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A collision shop operator’s request to build a combination collision shop, rental car facility and used-car sales operation in Clarence hit a final road block with the Town Board Wednesday night.

A special-exception-use permit required for the project proposed by Gabe’s Collision at 5871 Transit Road, north of Highland Farms, was rejected, 3-2, by board members during a meeting attended by at least a dozen residents of neighboring developments.

Councilman Robert Geiger and Supervisor David Hartzell Jr. voted to approve the request while Councilmen Bernard Kolber, Patrick Casilio and Peter DiConstanzo voted against it.

“I have a problem with introducing a project in that neighborhood where there could be deadly fumes going into that neighborhood,” said Casilio.

Casilio said he also has a problem voting against the recommendation of the Planning Board, which determined that a collision shop was not an allowed use at that location.

“I voted for a collision shop in my own backyard and it was upon the recommendation of the Planning Board, but it was thousands of feet away from my home,” said Casilio. “This one is hundreds of feet or less from existing homes. I voted for a car dealership at the end of my road. Who would ever do something like that? But it was the recommendation from the Planning Board. Those are dedicated people.”

Gabe’s request for concept plan approval and a recommendation under the State Environmental Quality Review Act was denied by the Planning Board at a meeting on May 1. The Town Board had previously voted, 3-2, on April 11 to send the project back to the Planning Board for more study.

“It was primarily based on community character and master plan issues,” said Planning Board Chairman Robert Sackett.

Nancy Robinson, a resident in the neighboring development of Laurel Park, also referred to the Planning Board’s recommendation in addressing the Town Board.

“I have to remind the board that the Planning Board, which is I guess the experts or a good part of the experts, studied this again and again and again have denied their recommendation and denied their request not once, not twice, but three times, emphasizing that it’s an inappropriate use of this particular parcel of land,” said Robinson.

Jeffery Palumbo, a lawyer representing Gabe’s, said that the Planning Board never made a recommendation on the project, but instead on whether or not a collision shop was a permitted use in the commercial district.

“Obviously we’re disappointed that the town has allowed this to go on for over 15 months and forced the petitioner to spend over $100,000 to make a determination that it’s not a permitted use when the vast majority of the collision shops in the town are all zoned in the same thing we are,” said Palumbo.

“I mean what they did was they bowed to a vocal minority. That’s what they did.”

Palumbo said they will now let a court decide.

Casilio warned residents that although Gabe’s request was denied, it does not stop other developers from coming in and building something else near their property.

“I do have to warn residents that something is going to go in there,” he said.

In other business Wednesday, a proclamation was presented to Clarence High School for its musical production of “Chicago” and May 30, 2013, was named Clarence High School Musical Day.



email: lmariacher@buffnews.com