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Developers run roughshod over residents of Amherst

Another Amherst neighborhood just got cheated.

Despite, or rather in the face of, a packed room of residents, the Planning Board swiftly approved a new apartment complex on a virgin wetlands site on very busy Youngs Road. It was approved on land zoned for community facilities (CF) meant for public buildings, like a library, school or church, after midnight on March 20.

This was possible because the Town Board has allowed for non-public uses, such as multifamily housing, to be included in the CF zone at the request of developers who did not wish to rezone their specific parcel. In this way, changing the zoning ordinance instead of changing the zoning on a parcel, the required notice to neighbors is circumvented. A high-level, lame-duck town official supported the neighbors’ efforts to delete the offending amendments to the CF zoning. But this same official forgot to tell the neighbors that the zoning law change would be effective only after this building was approved.

It would seem that the next stop for this project is the Amherst Industrial Development Agency for the typical handout of developer gifts in the form of tax exemptions. So heads up, Williamsville school officials, because every dollar of school taxes exempted is another dollar of revenue foregone. And to all Amherst and Erie County taxpayers, every dollar in taxes that Amherst IDA projects do not pay is another dollar added to your tax bill.

So we know that the adjacent neighbors got cheated. And every taxpayer in the county will get cheated, too, if the Amherst IDA approves exemptions for this high-end senior complex that will rent for upward of $1,400 per unit.

Michele F. Marconi

Amherst