Residents living near the Lord Amherst Hotel property that Iskalo Development wants to turn into a “hospitality campus” came before the Town Board on Monday night to try to push the commercial development as far from their backyards as possible.
About two dozen residents, most wearing red, came before the board seeking to rezone a nature area known as “Mike’s Pond.” This 0.63-acre property buffers single-family homeowners along Livingston Parkway from Iskalo’s property at the junction of the I-290 and Main Street.
Iskalo Development wants to build a six-story hotel behind the Lord Amherst Hotel on Main and announced Friday that the hotel brand would be Hyatt Place, the first in the region.
Right now, the pond and surrounding nature area separate the new hotel from the residents on Livingston. The pond is partially zoned “residential” and partially zoned “commercial.”
Residents want the entire pond to be rezoned as residential property. Though no one could live there, the zoning designation of Mike’s Pond matters because it determines the distance from which any commercial structure can be built.
A residential rezoning of Mike’s Pond would require Iskalo Development to build 65 feet away from the edge of the pond property, instead of only 25 feet away, though Iskalo Vice President David Chiazza said his company has already planned to accommodate the longer setback.
Board members said they favor rezoning Mike’s Pond as residential but tabled the rezoning decision in a 4-1 vote because the neighbors and the developer are not currently in agreement on the pond boundaries. Council Member Mark Manna voted against the open-ended vote delay.
Lawyer Jeffery Palumbo, speaking on behalf of the residents, said there are two small areas in dispute and expressed optimism that both sides could reach agreement. No representative from Iskalo Development spoke at the public hearing.
Several council members said they don’t want to be placed in a “judicial position” of deciding where the property boundaries are and will wait to vote on the rezoning until agreement on both sides is reached.
In other action, the board:
• Approved the establishment of a 20 mph school zone on Kings Highway adjacent to Amherst Middle School.
• Lifted a zoning restriction on Hausrath’s Landscape Maintenance/Bison Turf Equipment at 451 Meyer Road, next to the Mel Ott Little League baseball fields.