by Terry Duffy
The Town of Lewiston is taking a wait-and-see approach following Thursday's determination in State Supreme Court that now places the Bridgewater senior housing proposal back into the hands of the town.
According to news accounts, a suit filed earlier by interests of the Washuta family had sought to put a stop to a plan to construct a four-story, 138-unit complex on property owned by Marjorie Reiter, mother of former Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Reiter.
Rane Property Management of Amherst, a group active in similar housing ventures in Amherst and currently eyeing a mixed housing development for Whitehaven and East River roads on Grand Island, submitted a plan last year called Bridgewater Estates for the Reiter property, a parcel of land on Ridge Road east of Model City Road that includes the Hillview Café.
According to the Rane Property Management website, the Bridgewater plan calls for 138 units geared to seniors, offering studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments in what's described by the development group as "senior luxury living at its best."
"Bridgewater Estates, a new community offering one and two bedroom apartments for vibrant adults that balances luxury and sophistication with comfort and convenience. If location means everything to you then we have it all here: easy access to shopping, restaurants, bakeries, drugstores and much more. Enjoy the very quiet, tranquil country setting. Our caring management and well-appointed apartments make this new 55-plus community one you will be proud to call home," touted the Rand Property Management web page.
Problem was, it triggered opposition by neighboring interests, including Modern Disposal and a group known as the Lewiston International Business Park. They filed a suit claiming improper zoning by the town and arguing the Rane plan for high-density housing could impact their activities. The lands are currently zoned for light industrial.
In a State Supreme Court, that claim was rejected by Justice Mark A. Montour, who said he wanted to see how the Town of Lewiston Planning and Zoning boards and the Lewiston Town Board ultimately rule on the project.
Town of Lewiston Supervisor Dennis Brochey said yesterday that he considers the Bridgewater proposal back to stage one. "Looks like we'll be starting everything all over again," said Brochey. "It will again have to go through all the channels, and then a decision by the Town Board."
Brochey said that as far as he was concerned all the initial zoning reviews by the town were in fact conducted properly but that other issues could still face muster, including traffic studies. He said he was uncertain on the expectation or need for a full-blown state environmental quality review, however.
Regarding a possible traffic study he said, "My concerns are the potential health issues for the seniors who would be living there," said Brochey. "There's plenty of diesel trucks there. I'm not sure of subjecting seniors to that type of atmosphere."
Moving on to another issue, Brochey said he met Thursday with representatives from the towns of Wheatfield, Pendleton, Marilla and West Seneca regarding Quasar Energy and possible plans for a mass rally in opposition to the company and its plans for the communities, including Lewiston. "It's an idea," he said. "We're considering various locations and a date, possibly in mid-June."
More on this as news develops.