AMHERST, N.Y. – A controversial development project was back on the table Thursday night at a public planning board hearing.
The developers proposing a multi-use residential development on North Forest Road requested rezoning for the site from “recreation conservation” to “traditional neighborhood development, “multi-family,” and “general business.”
However, they also asked that the board take more time before it decides to accept or reject that proposal.
Mensch Capital Partners presented changes Thursday, highlighting their intent to increase the amount of publicly accessible green space and their intentions to work with the Town of Amherst and possibly event the University at Buffalo on mitigating sewer capacity issues, a concern every resident who spoke brought up.
To clarify, parts of Ellicott Creek in Amherst are listed in a flood plane zone, in the same area where there is already a sewage draining problem. Residents have complained that for years, wet weather events cause the sewer capacity to overflow. Amherst is even under consent order from the D.E.C. to work on infrastructure solutions that will mitigate the problem.
That flood risk in that region of Amherst is among the biggest reasons residents don’t want even more homes tapping into the sewer line.
As a result, Mensch Capital is charged with presenting solutions, which they are still working on because the development company claims it only recently learned the scope of the flooding issue.
To recap, Westwood is the 170 acre proposed neighborhood and commercial development, with single family homes, town homes and a hotel at North Forest Road. Mensch Capital Partners has met massive resident opposition and has changed their concept a few times already since last year to try and meet a middle ground.
Residents still aren’t buying the assurances Mensch Capital made to the planning board.
“You'll have massive back up into people’s basements. It'll be a disaster,” one resident said. “So just forget about the traffic and the design of this project…the sewer system cannot handle it. It's simple: it cannot handle it.”
“Don't be fooled by the sponsor's misleading statement that this project preserves almost half of the parcel’s green space. Look at whether this green space will have any value to the residents,” another resident said. “This is not a plan designed to fit in with the surrounding neighborhoods or be consistent with the comprehensive plan and benefit the town.”
Residents are also concerned about increased traffic near an already congested area.