ADVERTISEMENT

Elma Town Board members this week approved a one-year moratorium on building permits for multiple dwellings of three units or more until town building codes can be reviewed and updated.

Their move came after a town developer purchased a well-known former historic camp and submitted plans to build multifamily apartments on it.

Developer Bryan A. Young filed an application Monday with the town building inspector to construct 14 units, each containing four two-bedroom apartments with garages behind Pond Brook Town Houses on 14 acres along Bowen Road.

The site is part of the former 80-acre Camp Centerline he purchased several weeks ago.

Young – who has prompted criticism from neighbors about dust, flooding and the potential for traffic woes near his growing Bowen Road landscaping business – already has razed a 1912 mansion on the camp property built as a summer home that had been a popular stomping grounds a century ago and whose owner hosted automaker Henry Ford on more than one occasion.

Young declined to allow preservation officials to tour the mansion before he demolished it, Marlene D. Baumgartner said.

Baumgartner and other residents who attended a Town Board meeting last month and had wanted the mansion spared were angry that the board didn’t act fast enough to join a preservation group that could have provided historic status to the structure.

Councilman Michael P. Nolan said that the board did not have the time to do the paperwork to preserve the mansion but recommended that a citizen committee be formed to prevent this from happening in the future. Residents at last month’s meeting expressed worry that the property, known for its natural beauty, would be developed for multifamily housing.

Young asked the town this week for a permit to build the multifamily apartments. Board members assured them that zoning would have to be changed.

A patch of the former camp property where the apartment project would be located is zoned Residential C, which allows for multiple dwellings but for no more than one apartment building per acre.

The moratorium is effective immediately, though a public hearing on the matter is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 23 in Town Hall, 1600 Bowen Road.