Op­po­si­tion mounts to re­zon­ing on Walden

Pro­posed slaugh­ter­house re­sisted by city neigh­bors

The Buffalo News - - CITY&REGION - By Jonathan D. Ep­stein and Jane Kwiatkowski Radlich NEWS STAFF RE­PORTERS

Op­po­si­tion is mount­ing to a pro­posal to put a poul­try slaugh­ter­house on the site of a for­mer Dairy Queen on Walden Av­enue in a Buf­falo res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood.

Masaab Dar­wish wants to open a street­front res­tau­rant and a slaugh­ter­house, mainly for fresh chicken and tur­keys, at 822 Walden, near Academy Road. He is ask­ing the Buf­falo Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals for a use vari­ance to al­low him to con­vert a block build­ing in the rear of the site into the slaugh­ter­house.

Dar­wish said that it would be one of the few slaugh­ter­houses in the area and per­haps the only one in the city. It would op­er­ate un­der halal, the Mus­lim di­etary laws that also guide how an­i­mals must be killed in or­der for the meat to be eaten.

Dar­wish, of Cheek­towaga, stated in his ap­pli­ca­tion to the city that he has spo­ken to neigh­bors and gained sup­port for the ven­ture.

But neigh­bors in­ter­viewed Thurs­day ex­pressed re­sis­tance to the idea.

“I think it’s a hor­ri­ble idea; ev­ery­body does,” said Ju­lia Ruf­fin, who lives on St. Marys Road, which runs par­al­lel to Academy. “There are no slaugh­ter­houses in Buf­falo. We are a neigh­bor­hood, and we don’t want that in our neigh­bor­hood. I don’t think any­body would.”

The Academy Road Block Club, which rep­re­sents res­i­dents on Academy and St. Marys, has cir­cu­lated a pe­ti­tion against the busi­ness. Res­i­dents met Wed­nes­day night to dis­cuss the mat­ter at the Ge­orge K. Arthur Com­mu­nity Cen­ter, 2056 Ge­ne­see St. Ac­cord­ing to those present, an over­flow crowd at­tended.

Dar­wish wants to put a res­tau­rant into the build­ing on the par­cel clos­est to Walden, which once was home to a Dairy Queen, said Ulysses Wil­liams, 57, who lives on Academy, di­rectly be­hind the par­cel.

“A slaugh­ter­house is not needed here,” said Wil­liams, whose fam­ily has lived in the neigh­bor­hood since 2002.

He said other busi­nesses – in­clud­ing a MetroPCS, a Dairy Queen and an elec­tron­ics re­pair shop – had all moved out of the site.

“The last one here was an auto re­pair shop, and it lasted two months be­fore it was gone,” Wil­liams said.

The neigh­bor­hood, lo­cated a few blocks from the Cheek­towaga border, has seen bet­ter times, said most of the neigh­bors in­ter­viewed for this ar­ti­cle. Many of the houses on Academy and St. Marys have barred win­dows and doors. “Be­ware of Dog” signs are com­mon. A street sign near the be­gin­ning of Academy de­scribes the street as part of a neigh­bor­hood watch pro­gram im­ple­mented by the block club.

“It was great neigh­bor­hood at one time, but now you have a lot of peo­ple


job and re­sented Levin’s re­turn. Chan­nel 2 has to hope that Benigni’s move to “Day­break” will ease the re­sent­ment.

Benigni be­comes the sec­ond sports di­rec­tor on Buf­falo tele­vi­sion to move to news in the past few years. WKBW’s (Chan­nel 7) Jeff Russo left sports for news in Jan­uary 2015.

“Adam did a great job filling both evenings and morn­ings,” said Toell­ner. “It was ob­vi­ous his tran­si­tion to news was go­ing to be a smooth one. It was also ob­vi­ous that his em­phatic per­son­al­ity and quick wit would be per­fect for morn­ings and ‘Day­break.’ ”

In a brief tele­phone in­ter­view, Benigni, 48, said he de­cided this sum­mer to make the move to news.

“I re­ally wanted the chal­lenge of deal­ing with top­ics out­side of sports, es­pe­cially in a com­mu­nity where I have lived for 20 years and have grown to love,” said Benigni.

He added he talked to other for­mer sportscast­ers who have made the switch to news about a va­ri­ety of top­ics, in­clud­ing the early morn­ing hours he will be work­ing.

“It is go­ing to be an ad­just­ment,” Benigni con­ceded. “My en­tire ca­reer up to now has been on the night shift.”

Ac­cord­ing to a source, Benigni ex­plored other op­tions be­fore de­cid­ing to take the “Day­break” job.

Benigni seemed the log­i­cal choice to re­place Beard, who has de­layed his de­par­ture from Chan­nel 2 a few times be­fore an­nounc­ing it def­i­nitely would be the end of the line at the end of 2017.

Benigni’s move to “Day­break” would seem to be a blow to Pete Gal­li­van, who had been the morn­ing show co-an­chor for about 11 years be­fore Beard came aboard in 2009.

Gal­li­van is ex­pected to be­come the pri­mary fill-in an­chor for Levin and Benigni, who get a good deal of va­ca­tion time. He also could move to sports now that there is an open­ing there with Benigni of­fi­cially ex­it­ing his for­mer role.

Jonah Javad, who has been at Chan­nel 2 for five years, is the log­i­cal choice to be named Chan­nel 2’s sports di­rec­tor. He has taken over many of Benigni’s du­ties for the past sev­eral months. But no an­nounce­ment has been made.

Javad also is am­bi­tious and may not be as wed­ded to Western New York as other TV per­son­al­i­ties and could even­tu­ally leave for a big­ger mar­ket.

WGRZ-TV sports re­porter Jonah Javad, who has been with the sta­tion for five years, seems to be the log­i­cal choice for sports di­rec­tor.

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