Residents Fight Proposed Hotel In Amherst

12:44 PM, Jul 27, 2012   |    comments
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SNYDER, N.Y. -- People who live near the Lord Amherst Hotel along Main Street in Snyder are taking the Town of Amherst and its Zoning Board of Appeals to court to try to block a proposed hotel tower nearby.

Iskalo Development wants to construct a 6-story hotel just behind the Lord Amherst Hotel site; if built, neighbors say it would tower over their properties, allowing hotel guests to peer down into their windows and backyards.

"There's no question it would not add value to the neighborhood and would really serve to diminish the values of all of our homes," Resident Michele Marconi, who lives along Livingston Parkway, said.

The neighbors are especially upset because they believed they would never have to worry about this.

In 1969, a "condition" was put in place, restricting building heights in that area to just 2 stories tall. Town of Amherst Building Commissioner Tom Ketchum recently ruled that restriction was still in place. But the Zoning Board of Appeals overturned that, finding that newer zoning ordinances approved in 1976 and 2006 replaced those earlier "conditions." Residents were outraged.

WEB EXTRA:

Zoning Board of Appeals members who voted in favor of Iskalo Development: F. Robert Danni, F. David Pollack, Carl Balmas

Zoning Board of Appeals members who voted against Iskalo Development: Colleen Bogdan, J. Matthew Plunkett

Click here to view the minutes from the meeting

"Never in a million years did we think that a 65-foot tower could be literally feet from our homes," said Ray Paolini, who added that he never would have built his home in the current location had he known of the loophole.

Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman F. Robert Danni defended the decision, which was split 3-2, saying town board members in 1969 "intended to apply (the height restriction) to the plans submitted at that time, not necessarily forever."

Ketchum said he worries the zoning board's decision could have far-reaching effects, doing away with conditions that owners thought were in place when they invested in their property.

The residents along Livingston Parkway aren't giving up; they are accepting signatures on petitions and will ask the zoning board to reconsider. Their lawsuit goes before a judge in August.

2 On Your Side spoke with a person at Iskalo Development, who said the company vice president would call us back after his meeting; the call was never returned.

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