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Plans for 55 apartments on four acres just outside the Village of Williamsville have been given new life.

The controversial project was dead two months ago, when the Amherst Town Board listened to the wishes of nearby residents and denied rezoning the property just south of Linwood Avenue, between South Forest and South Union roads.

But the Planning Board on Thursday ruled that the project could be reconsidered by the Town Board – probably within the next three months – because the circumstances have changed substantially.

The change?

The residents of Linwood now want the project.

The Town Board on Dec. 16 denied the rezoning – actually reversing its decision from earlier in its meeting – after getting the impression that’s what Linwood residents wanted.

It forced the developer, Andrew Romanowski, to move ahead with a revised plan – 31 apartments – that would not need rezoning but would require extending Linwood with a cul-de-sac.

The residents, however, realized the alternative plan would destroy the character of their quiet, dead-end street and admitted they would be better off with the developer’s original project.

Linwood residents last month asked the Town Board to reconsider – even circulating a neighborhood petition in favor of the original project – but a town ordinance requires the developer to wait a year before voting on the same rezoning.

That is, unless the Planning Board determines the project has changed substantially – which it did on Thursday by a 5-0 vote.

The original plans – which call for four two-story buildings with 44 apartments and two single-story structures with 11 units – haven’t changed, but the fact that the neighbors are now in favor makes the difference, explained Gary Black, the town’s assistant planning director.

Meanwhile, the Planning Board also approved sketch plans for the alternative option on the Linwood site, but the attorney for the developer, Sean W. Hopkins, said those plans will be withdrawn if the Town Board rezones the property for the preferred project.

Hopkins expects that rezoning to be reconsidered by the Town Board again in May.