New project leaves town look­ing at zon­ing is­sues

Or­chard Park pro­posal called largest in decades

The Buffalo News - - PICTURE PAGE - By Bar­bara O’Brien

Or­chard Park has had its share of ma­jor de­vel­op­ments, from shop­ping cen­ters and med­i­cal parks to an NFL sta­dium.

But the one town of­fi­cials are look­ing at now from El­li­cott Devel­op­ment is un­usual, even by those stan­dards.

The pro­posal be­ing con­sid­ered on open land in the town but a short dis­tance from the heart of the Vil­lage of Or­chard Park would in­clude the town’s first mul­ti­story ho­tel, 70 sin­gle-fam­ily homes, small re­tail space and pos­si­bly a fa­cil­ity for peo­ple with de­men­tia.

“This is cer­tainly the big­gest project the town has looked at in re­cent decades,” Town Plan­ning Board Chair­man Harold Fabin­sky said.

Sev­eral re­zon­ings and vari­ances would be needed for the 91-acre prop­erty, which is sure to raise con­cerns about traf­fic and char­ac­ter in the town of nearly 30,000.

While El­li­cott Devel­op­ment had pro­posed 100 rooms in a four story-ho­tel, the height has been re­duced to three sto­ries af­ter dis­cus­sions with town plan­ners, ac­cord­ing to Sean W. Hop­kins, at­tor­ney for the de­vel­oper.

Or­chard Park is home to sev­eral large de­vel­op­ments, in­clud­ing the Quaker Cross­ing shop­ping plaza and the BrookBridge Med­i­cal Park on Big Tree Road, but this ap­pears to be the largest mixe­dused project planned to date. There are three mo­tels in the town, all on South­west­ern Boule­vard.

If the ho­tel is ap­proved on the par­cel just out­side the vil­lage, the com­mu­nity would join nearby vil­lages of East Au­rora and Ham­burg with ho­tels.

“A ho­tel is some­thing many peo­ple think we need. The ques­tion pri­mar­ily be­ing, is it go­ing to be a large ho­tel in­con­sis­tent with the gen­eral char­ac­ter with the com­mu­nity?” Fabin­sky said.

The limit on build­ing height is 2.5 sto­ries, said town planner John Bernard. The ho­tel is planned next to the Buf­falo Med­i­cal Group build­ing and be­hind busi­nesses on North Buf­falo Road, which are a lit­tle higher in el­e­va­tion than the ex­ist­ing houses that front on the street, he said.

The project is planned for va­cant land west of North Buf­falo Road and south of Web­ster Road. Two new roads, one end­ing in a cul de sac and the other link­ing with Hol­land Lane, which would be ex­tended, are planned off Web­ster. Re­zon­ing is needed on four parcels. The de­vel­oper is ask­ing for a more re­stric­tive zon­ing for the res­i­den­tial sec­tion.

The 70 up­scale homes are planned on 70 acres, and the de­vel­oper has re­quested they be part of a con­ser­va­tion

man­age­ment over­lay. The over­lay al­lows the homes to be built closer to­gether than usu­ally al­lowed, as long as half of the par­cel re­mains green space and the over­all den­sity is one home per acre.

The cur­rent zon­ing would al­low a much higher den­sity of sin­gle-fam­ily homes and hun­dreds of apart­ments, Hop­kins said.

He said the de­vel­oper has com­mit­ted to build only sin­gle-fam­ily homes and no apart­ments.

Hop­kins said El­li­cott has agreed that no big-box stores would be de­vel­oped, and com­mer­cial build­ings would not be more than 30,000 square feet.

“We’d like to ac­com­mo­date se­nior-re­lated uses, in­clud­ing a po­ten­tial mem­ory care cen­ter and as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­ity,” Hop­kins said.

Traf­fic will be an is­sue, and town of­fi­cials said a traf­fic study is planned. The de­vel­oper has agreed to have the com­mer­cial struc­tures be part of an ar­chi­tec­tural over­lay dis­trict, which would re­quire town re­view and ap­proval to make sure they meet de­sign cri­te­ria, Hop­kins said.

The Town Board is the lead agency on the re­quest, and will be the board to ap­prove re­zon­ings. The town will re­quire a traf­fic study, as well as stud­ies of wet­lands, wildlife, sewer and wa­ter ca­pac­ity, Bernard said.

Fabin­sky said the project qual­i­fies un­der State En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity Re­view Act as a “type one” ac­tion, which could have ad­verse en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts and could re­quire a full en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment. Pick 4 Evening: Pick 4 Day: Take Five 7 9 15 28 32

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