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Lewiston's growing pains: Town hears development concerns

Sat, Sep 2nd 2017 07:00 am
Garfinkel named alternate DCO
By Terry Duffy
Editor-in-Chief
Monday's Lewiston Town Board session saw limited action, with a number of agenda items either discussed briefly and not acted upon, or tabled and deferred as being incomplete with action anticipated for next month.
With that, news of interest from the session came in residents' comments, as concerns were vetted to the board with regard to a growing worry in the town - that of future housing development.
Currently, Lewiston, through its Planning, Zoning and Town boards, has before it a number of proposals for planned unit developments both above and below the hill. A sample includes:
•Above the hill, a proposal by John and Joe Rubino of Amherst, for the development of 205 units in an 80.2-acre area located on the north side of Upper Mountain Road, east of Bronson Drive. The project has seen Planning Board approval of a concept plan with a condition that a traffic study, last evaluated in the early 1990s, be updated.
•Nearby, straddling the Town of Niagara and Colonial Village in Lewiston, discussions continue with both towns on the Bri Estates proposal, which call for more than 100 units of high-density housing adjacent to Grauer, Colonial, Miller, Heritage, Kay and Ellen roads.
•Below the hill, a proposal again by the Rubinos for upward of 175 units of mixed-density housing, including more than 90 patio homes eyed for areas meeting and north of the Saddlewood housing development off Pletcher Road.
•And nearby, a minor, nine-lot development under consideration by Roman Kuziomko at Calkins and Creek roads.
The latest proposals come on top of developments either ongoing or underway, particularly in northern Lewiston, including Oak Run, Riverwalk and French Landing.
Town Board members heard Monday from residents leery of the Rubino brothers' proposals, namely for the Saddlewood neighborhood.
Resident Dan Benuto of Paddock Lane expressed his concerns to Supervisor Steve Broderick and board members who were taking action on the Rubino proposal on Upper Mountain Road that evening.
"As you know, Rubino is going to build all around Saddlewood, down Bronson, behind James, and there's not really (anyone) happy about it," Benuto said.
Among his concerns, he said, was the potential placement of townhouses adjacent to his, planned roadways, aesthetic issues, plus drainage problems
"In Saddlewood ... the last four townhouses in Saddlewood on Carriage Lane, the lot line goes right to the end of their deck to the end. Don Smith ... owns the land, but, before he sells the land, I think he should be responsible to give the association at least 51 feet behind his deck, which is town code ... it goes right to the lot line," Benuto said.
Broderick said, "We're aware of it and addressing it.
"Also the drainage issue is horrible," Benuto said. "To really think (that) they want put a road right down the middle of the Saddlewood development ... T-boning right in the middle of Paddock Lane, in front of our townhouse, which means that they'll have backyards facing Carriage Lane.
"Now, if you spend $300,000 for your house on Carriage Lane, and all of a sudden you have a backyard in front of you, and a backyard behind you, I don't really think that's right at all."
Discussion closed with Broderick inviting the resident to continue dialogue on the Rubino development.
Next came resident Patricia Nashwinter of The Circle Drive, who also shared her concerns on a Rubino proposal - not above the hill, but below.
"We are asking the board not to approve the project; it will directly impact the quality of life. We feel, like many of us, we have been tried by the Planning Board or whoever, the Rubino brothers, they're trying to dumb us down," Nashwinter said.
"The original project called for 144 homes, with the homes that are existing in Saddlewood," she noted. "The new project they are trying to tell us has lessened a footprint on the area is actually 175, because they are trying to take out the homes that are already existing. ... It is 144 on the original plan, and now it's up to 175. They've taken away a major part of the area they were going to build in, because it's been proposed a wetland. Now the project is an extreme dense area, with many more homes in a small area. ... It will directly impact the quality of life of the surrounding residents in the Town of Lewiston. It's a direct impact on the environment, the traffic and the burden on the existing infrastructure."
No response was to come that evening from Broderick to Nashwinter.
Later on, the Town Board went on to approve a negative declaration and concept plan approval to the Rubino proposal for Upper Mountain Road, plus the Kuziomko proposal on Calkins and Creek roads.
No action was considered nor taken with regard to Saddlewood neighborhood.
In other news from the session:
•The Town Board moved on naming Donna Garfinkel, who serves as town clerk and tax collector, as an alternate dog control officer under DCO Dave Sheriff. The measure names Garfinkel as an officially authorized DCO under Article 7 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets law. She has assisted the town in the past when needed in the picking up of stray dogs.
"I want to thank you Donna for stepping up, above and beyond," Broderick said.
On a related matter, the town announced it is now pursuing plans for a three-kennel dog shelter eyed for town property behind Town Hall. Town grant writer Bernie Rotella said the project would be eligible for grant funding via New York State Agriculture and Markets.
•Town Finance Director Martha Blazick reported the town has renewed its $1.25 million bond anticipation note with KeyBank N.A. at a rate of 1.48 percent. The renewed BAN covers a period of one year.
•The Town Board approved a lease between the Sanborn Professional Business Association and property owner Paul Wendt for placement of a 12-by-25-foot rectangular sign to be located at the southwest corner Saunders Settlement Road near Buffalo Street in the hamlet. The sign would be for the purpose of promoting Sanborn area events and businesses by the SBPA.
•The town announced it would hold two public hearings at 6 and 6:10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, prior to its work session. One hearing will cover a historical preservation law amendment, the other a local law on electronic message displays in Lewiston.
•The town announced the resignation of Senior Center staffer Dick Butkus as senior van driver, and the hiring of Randy Gorzka as his replacement.

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