A group of Amherst residents opposed to the potential construction of a six-story hotel near the site of the present two-story Lord Amherst Motel on Main Street in Snyder began a petition drive Thursday aimed at derailing the project before it is officially proposed.
“We don’t know what may be proposed,” Town Planning Director Eric W. Gillert and his assistant, Gary B. Black, told about 150 people at a meeting in the Harlem Road Community Center. “It’s all hypothetical. No application has been received, there is no site plan, and no analysis has been done.”
They said officials of the town Planning Department have not yet met with the potential developer, Iskalo Development Corp. of Amherst, and no action is pending before the Planning Board. Michele Marconi, a resident who presided at Thursday’s community meeting, acknowledged, “There are no plans on file yet.”
Iskalo, however, hopes to build a Hyatt Place Hotel on the Main Street site adjacent to an off-ramp from the Youngmann Memorial Highway.
David Chiazza, executive vice president of Iskalo, said in a letter to Marconi that the developers already met with nearby residential property owners and “modified our conceptual plan to enable us to reposition the new hotel further away” from their property. “We will continue to meet with those residents,” he said, “despite their concerns about aspects of our proposed project.”
Nobody from the company attended Thursday’s meeting, which was “intended to attract those opposed to the project,” Chiazza said.
Ray Paolini, a neighborhood leader, said that most of the people at the meeting were “not opposed to development” in Amherst but that they would fight against commercial encroachment on their residential property.
Petition forms labeled in “opposition to proposed Iskalo 6-floor hotel in Snyder” were distributed at the meeting, although several speakers said they were not opposed to the present two-story motel there. Objections centered on a six-floor hotel from which “guests will be able to peer into the backyards of homeowners, … and the hotel will dominate the views from the back of these homes.”
Zoning for the site permits buildings up to 65 feet high, which is sufficient for a six-story hotel.