Clarence developers are outraged by a proposed amendment to a local residential development law.
At Wednesday night’s meeting of the Town Board, 12 residents pleaded to turn down Councilman Bernard Kolber’s proposed amendment, which would change a law that allows eight living units per acre in multi-family developments. The proposed amendment would reduce the number of permissible units.
The speakers spent more than an hour giving reasons why the proposed amendment to Clarence’s Multiple-Family Residential Developments law would affect their businesses in Clarence as well as the town’s overall look and movement toward economic growth.
Because of the discontent among developers, Town Superviser David C. Hartzell Jr. moved to make a final decision in two to four weeks when the councilmen can take time to consider both sides.
Kolber believes Clarence is largely a single-family town, so he questions whether more multi-family apartments would benefit the town.
Developers strongly disagree, arguing that the present rule for multi-use properties with commercial and multi-family use gives young professionals a place to live in Clarence and replaces outdated buildings that are not aesthetically pleasing. They also argue that any time the density of a piece of property is cut, so is the value of that property, so fewer tax dollars are generated.
“I could see it both ways, Hartzell said. “Anything I can do to raise revenue, obviously I like that. But on the other hand, I know that Clarence is a single-family town, I know people love their single-family homes. People move to Clarence not to live in an apartment, but to live in a house with a yard and go to great schools.”
Many of the developers present Wednesday night were concerned about their own projects that have been signed and paid for but not yet built. Sean Hopkins, an attorney with Hopkins & Sorgi Attorneys at Law, asked the councilmen to turn down the amendment. Hopkins represents Regent Development, and he explained that its property on 8230 Wehrle Drive is under contract to develop a mixed-use project with multi-family and commercial use. If the amendment is passed, its multi-family component would be reduced by 25 percent.
Hopkins, like many who spoke Wednesday, said that if board members don’t turn it down, then it’s only fair they exempt developers’ projects already underway.
Some developers complained that they just learned of the proposed amendment Tuesday, though Kolber said he announced the amendment at a Town Board meeting two weeks ago.