Over the objections of nearby residents, the Town of Tonawanda Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday approved two variances for a proposed four-story hotel on Niagara Falls Boulevard.
The developers of the Holiday Inn Express planned for a parcel that occupies most of the block between Forbes and Thistle avenues, just south of Ellicott Creek Road, sought permission to place the front of the building closer to Niagara Falls Boulevard to buffer the property from nearby residences. They also sought a second variance to exceed the town’s maximum building height of 45 feet.
It was the second variance request that drew the ire of the roughly 40 residents from the town’s Parkview neighborhood who assembled for the hearing.
“Clearly, a four-story complex is not in keeping with the character of our neighborhood,” said Laura Dierken of Dexter Terrace.
She expressed concern that residents would lose their privacy to hotel guests on the third and fourth floors of the building.
“Their vantage point will make our homes easy pickings for a transient population. We will be forced to keep our shades, blinds and curtains closed 24/7 to maintain safety and privacy. In addition, the sight of a building that size towering over our homes will greatly decrease the value of our properties. Obviously, we are against a variance that would permit a hotel of this scale,” she said.
Members of the board expressed sympathy for the residents’ plight but noted that many of their complaints regarding the project’s aesthetic and traffic impacts would be better addressed to the town’s Planning Board.
“I can’t analyze the complaints the residents have addressed to the board tonight without commenting on the validity of them at all, but they have to be addressed at a different forum,” said Zoning Board Chairman John Joseph.
Joseph noted that the town’s building code does not prohibit four-story buildings along that stretch of Niagara Falls Boulevard; it just restricts the maximum height to 45 feet.
The height of the proposed hotel is 42 feet, but the developer said the roof facade would reach nearly 50 feet. The facade would hide some of the mechanical elements of the hotel, such as the air conditioner. Chandrakant Patel, the petitioner for the variance, insisted that regardless of whether the developer received a height variance, it would still pursue plans for a four-story building but possibly without the building facade work that would hide the mechanics.
Councilman John Bargnesi, who attended the Zoning Board hearing, assured residents that they would have another opportunity to air their concerns.
Those concerns can be addressed at the Planning Board level after the site plan for the proposed project is reviewed by the Town Building Department, he told them.