The fight over senior apartments proposed for Youngs Road in Amherst is headed to court.
Opponents of the planned project at 1055 Youngs Road have filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court against the developer and Town of Amherst Planning Board in hopes of blocking the 59-unit apartment building from going up.
It’s the latest development in a battle that has been brewing for months.
“The intention is obviously to get their attention and let them know that we’re very, very serious about fighting this thing,” said Patrick Welch of Treebrooke Court.
Welch, president of the neighborhood group Protect Amherst Life Association, filed the lawsuit in April along with 10 of his neighbors.
The 5½ acre property, located south of Renaissance Drive and north of Treebrooke Court, is properly zoned for apartments, prompting the Planning Board to approve a site plan for a two-story, U-shaped building in March and declare that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment.
But the crux of the lawsuit – a so-called Article 78, which tries to overturn decisions made by local governments – is over wetlands.
Neighborhood opponents insist more than half of the property is wetlands containing channels that allow water to flow into Amherst Ditch No. 4 and eventually empty into Ellicott Creek. Destroying those wetlands, which in essence act as a sponge, would create the potential for flooding in the surrounding area, the neighbors contend.
In addition, there’s concern about plans for the project’s injection wells, which would pump the storm water deep underground in an area of Amherst known for its abandoned gypsum mines. That could create the potential for the ground to become more unstable, Welch said.
The lawsuit also buys more time for the Army Corps of Engineers to properly evaluate the site. The residents believe the property needs to be regulated by the Corps and asked the agency to step in. Corps agreed to revisit the issue, but has yet to report its findings.
Welch credited the developer, Michael Jordan of Redtek Development, for not clearing the site until the Army Corps has weighed in.
“Despite having the required approvals the developer has voluntarily agreed to wait until an updated determination has been made by the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Sean W. Hopkins, the developer’s attorney.
Attorneys in the case are scheduled to appear before State Supreme Court Justice James H. Dillon on July 30.