Opponents of the Hyatt Place hotel in Amherst were dealt a blow Tuesday when a judge denied their request to stop the project.
But the feisty neighbors say they have more tricks in their bag – and the sound of noisy bulldozers clearing the site appears only to have emboldened them to try harder.
“I hate these guys,” resident Michele Marconi said Wednesday. “I am certainly doing everything I can to stir this pot.”
State Supreme Court Justice Paula L. Feroleto late Tuesday denied the neighbors’ request for a temporary restraining order on the Main Street property.
David Chiazza, executive vice president of Iskalo Development, said the judge “made an appropriate ruling” to let the project move forward.
Even before Marconi uttered her remarks, though, Chiazza seemed to anticipate a nasty response from the neighbors, predicting that “the accusations of injustice” would fly.
“At some point we would hope the reality would set in that no injustice has been done to anyone,” Chiazza said. “In fact, it is the project opposition and Councilman [Mark A.] Manna that have been the aggressors.”
The Livingston Parkway residents have banded together to fight the hotel development on the grounds that it would destroy the character of their residential neighborhood. Manna has sided with them and has made the issue a large part of his campaign for supervisor.
Marconi was undaunted by the judge’s ruling, predicting the residents would get a victory to stop the project soon enough, either at another State Supreme Court hearing on July 17 or before that date.
The residents have three separate appeals pending, two dealing with zoning variances and another with environmental reviews.
Two of the legal challenges have been combined for the July 17 court date, while another on the property’s previous height restriction will be argued at the Appellate Division in December.
Manna said that Iskalo “is not the victim here. They’ve gotten everything they wanted and they’re still not happy.”
Meanwhile, work continues on the hotel site in the wake of a building permit granted last week that allows Iskalo to perform initial construction to ready the site for a foundation.
Chiazza said the work was outlined during a sit-down meeting five weeks ago with the neighbors in which both sides tried – and failed – to put their differences aside.
The work is visible from I-290, which the six-story hotel will face, and where heavy brush and trees once separated the area in back of the Lord Amherst hotel from the highway.
Those trees are gone, but under a gentleman’s agreement with the neighbors ,Chiazza said the developer has agreed to stay away from the property closest to the homes.
“We’re basically working on the land, which we have approval to do, and staying away from” the disputed property closest to “Mike’s Pond,” which sits in the backyards of the homeowners, Chiazza said.
The developer is not interested in making a point or trying to intimidate the neighbors by going into that area first, he said.
“We waited a little longer than we wanted to, but we just have to start,” Chiazza said. “None of this should be a surprise to them.”
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