A judge has rejected two lawsuits against the controversial Hyatt Place Hotel on Main Street in Snyder, paving the way for work on the six-story hotel to proceed.
In a written ruling issued Friday, State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski upheld the decisions made earlier this year by two Amherst boards allowing Iskalo Development Corp. to build the $15 million, 137-room hotel near the Youngmann Highway.
Angry Hyatt neighbors – claiming the developer was shoehorning a huge hotel into a residential area – filed suit but failed to establish that the town’s Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals acted “unlawfully, arbitrarily, capriciously or otherwise abused their discretion” when granting approval for the hotel, Michalski wrote.
It’s the latest twist in a heated development battle that has rallied a Snyder neighborhood and became a focal point for debate during the recent Amherst elections.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed, and we’re going to appeal this,” said Raymond Paolini, president of the Livingston Homeowners Association, which filed the legal challenges against the town.
The ruling fails to address a number of substantial environmental issues, including the hotel’s impact on the private pond shared by homeowners and a dispute over the boundary lines, Paolini said.
Residents already are appealing a prior ruling that upheld the Zoning Board’s decision to raise the two-story height restriction for the hotel project. Arguments in that case are scheduled for next month.
Meanwhile, Iskalo’s attorney Monday said construction will continue on the Hyatt, which is going up behind the Lord Amherst Hotel, on the northwest side of the Main Street-Youngmann Highway interchange.
The developer had been limited to clearing the site and constructing a single story, because of a temporary restraining order issued until Michalski made a ruling in the case.
“We are pleased by the written decisions that were issued by the court,” said Sean W. Hopkins, the attorney for Iskalo. “We believe the written decisions upholding the exhaustive reviews of the project conducted by the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board validate the thoroughness of the review by those boards.”
“Based on the decisions that were issued by the court, construction of the project will proceed in accordance with all previously issued approvals,” Hopkins said.
The Buffalo News on Monday obtained a copy of the judge’s written decisions, one of which addressed residents’ complaints related to site plan approval by the Planning Board, the other considering the several variances granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The judge found the Zoning Board was not in violation of town law when granting the variances, and – in addressing the issue of the hotel trespassing upon residents’ land – said the Planning Board has no authority to resolve boundary disputes.
While the lawsuits argue that both boards erroneously declared the hotel project would have no adverse environmental impacts, Michalski said the boards “identified and thoroughly evaluated all significant areas of environmental concern.”
Attorney Richard G. Berger, who represents the residents, could not be reached to comment Monday.