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The tussle over a proposed business that would include a collision shop continues in Clarence.

Gabe’s Collision wants to build a combination collision shop, rental car facility and used-car sales operation at 5817 Transit Road, north of Highland Farms Drive. The project’s request for a required special-exception use permit was the subject of a lengthy – and at times contentious – public hearing Wednesday.

The Town Board ended up voting, 3-2, to send the project back to the Planning Board, to answer a few specific questions and then report to the Town Board for further action.

Several residents of neighboring developments called a collision shop inappropriate for that location, citing what the town code allows, as well as concerns about emissions, noise and property values.

Jeffery Palumbo, a lawyer representing Gabe’s, argued the Town Board has the authority to allow a project with a collision shop to be built on the property, and he contended the operation would not have the negative impact that neighbors asserted.

“You will not hear it, you will not smell it, and you will not even see it with the forest that we’re building on this site,” Palumbo said.

He was referring to a revised plan that calls for adding 10-foot-tall trees that would enhance the buffer between the project and neighboring homes.

Palumbo also highlighted the $4 million to $5 million new investment Gabe’s planned to make, the 50 new jobs the business would create, and new taxes that would be generated for the town.

But neighbors who spoke out were unswayed, arguing that the Planning Board had already recommended that the Town Board deny approval of the permit.

Chris Dibble, a Greystone Court resident, questioned why the project keeps shifting between the Town Board and Planning Board, as part of a lengthy review process.

“It almost appears that somebody is afraid to make the decision, afraid to say, ‘No, this is not the right use of this space,’” Dibble said.

The Town Board narrowly approved sending the project back to the Planning Board, to review the interpretation of the zoning of the property; to look into possible carcinogens that could be emitted, what the emissions’ toxicity might be, and how they could affect nearby homes; and noise the business might create.

Councilmen Bernard J. Kolber and Peter DiCostanzo both voted against referring the project back.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com