Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart has been ordered to stop work on its new $2.5 million gymnasium until the school submits its plans for parking to the Town of Amherst.
The project under construction at the rear of the school on Main Street previously had received site plan approval from the town’s Planning Board, but it wasn’t until recently the Building Department discovered that the issue of parking had not been adequately resolved.
The stop-work order was issued by the Building Department Monday, and then reaffirmed by the Town Board by a 4-2 vote at its Monday night meeting.
The school should never have been issued a permit and needs to submit a site plan for 167 parking spaces, said Councilmember Guy R. Marlette.
“Our job is to ensure all the rules, regulations and codes are followed by everybody,” Marlette said. “Unfortunately, in this case, I don’t think they’re being followed.”
“I don’t want to see Sacred Heart harmed,” added Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein, “but they have to comply.”
The school has been using the parking lot at the adjacent Key Bank property for years, but apparently couldn’t work out a suitable agreement that would satisfy the town.
School representatives told the board Monday that it was devising a plan to put 167 spaces on campus, but said the stop-work order would delay construction and a scheduled spring opening.
Jennifer Demert, head of school at Sacred Heart, told the board the steel already had been delivered to the site.
Demert looked stunned by the latest development and did not want to comment on the latest turn of events.
“I’m kind of taken by surprise,” Demert said after the meeting.
Sacred Heart received more bad news Monday, when the Town Board decided to rezone .35 acres of land at the back of the school along Maynard Ally from office and commercial to residential.
Sacred Heart argued that the change would provide further restrictions on the school and the potential for any future development on the property.
The zoning change, however, would provide for greater setbacks and more of a buffer from future development for residents along Crosby Boulevard who had opposed the gymnasium project.