The Amherst Town Board had some spirited debate Monday night about the need to reassess its 65-foot maximum height restriction for commercial buildings in light of two six-story buildings going up on the outskirts of Williamsville on Main Street near the I-290 exit.
The board also approved rezonings that will allow new luxury and senior apartments to go up in town.
Council Member Mark Manna submitted a resolution asking the Planning Department to review the maximum height restrictions allowed in commercial and office districts. The board was clearly divided on the matter, despite public pressure from residents.
“I think it’s time to re-evaluate where these six-story, or 65-feet, buildings are allowed to go,” Manna said.
Many area residents are upset by the six-story hotel and apartment building being constructed by Ellicott Development at Main Street and South Forest Road, and the six-story Hyatt Place hotel that Iskalo Development plans to build behind the Lord Amherst Hotel.
Manna said he doesn’t expect to stop projects like the Hyatt Place, despite neighborhood opposition.
“My goal was to make sure it didn’t happen to somebody else,” he said.
Council Members Richard “Jay” Anderson and Barbara Nuchereno supported his resolution, noting some of the public outrage over the Ellicott and Iskalo developments.
“These two buildings have let us know something’s broken, and we need to be responsive,” Nuchereno said.
Council Member Steven Sanders said the town has other pressing priorities, while Council Member Guy Marlette said the building height restriction issue should not be weighed out of context and that broader zoning issues should be considered.
The board ultimately agreed to support a resolution asking for a building height review by the Planning Department, with input from a committee that will include board members and others; a progress report to be given in four months; and a final report to be issued by the end of 2013.
In other matters the board:
• Approved a proposal by developers Paul Bliss and Michael Connors to rezone three single-family residential properties at the corner of Maple and Ayer roads as “multifamily residential” for the purpose of building an independent senior living apartment complex.
The complex would include a single building with three stories, comprising 98 units. Most would be two-bedroom apartments, while 18 would be one-bedroom units.
• Approved a proposal by Uniland and Bliss to rezone mostly vacant land at 6275 Sheridan Drive and 7610 Transit Road from “office building” designation to “multifamily residential” in order to build a “luxury” apartment complex.
The proposal calls for creating 70 luxury apartments, ranging from one to three bedrooms.