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Town of Niagara eyes protections while considering Military Road development request

Fri, Mar 10th 2023 11:00 am

By Timothy Chipp

Contributing Writer

Town of Niagara officials are pushing back a request to rezone a portion of a land parcel in the 3400 block of Military Road, citing a need to include the entire piece of land.

The hang-up comes after Uniland Development Co. requested a portion of the land at the address be rezoned from multi-family residential (R-3) to light industrial (L-1) to accommodate two new warehouses they wish to build.

In the requests, according to Building Inspector Chuck Haseley, Uniland is seeking to keep a portion of the land zoned as R-3 to provide a buffer between the new facilities and residents in the area.

But Haseley said he doesn’t think this approach would protect those residents, and suggested a more permanent approach to shield against misunderstandings or changed minds of the future.

“It would be easier to put a deed restriction on the property and collect industrial taxes on the whole parcel,” Haseley told the board during Wednesday’s work session. “We’re not always going to be around. Things are suddenly different, the people are different, and things get lost in translation and suddenly (it’s developed).”

Board members largely agreed with Haseley, choosing to delay the company’s request to schedule a public hearing on the rezoning request until at least May while they make the necessary adjustments to the wording.

Such a change would require a deed restriction on the property, which would forever prevent developing the land Uniland Development Co. plans to use as its buffer, rather than relying on a handshake agreement.

It’s a decision, Supervisor Lee Wallace said, that could go a long way to earning the support, or just tempering dissatisfaction, from those who will be impacted in the community.

Originally, the board was considering scheduling the public hearing for April.

While they await the future of the Uniland Development Co. request, a different industrial project seems to have been shuttered.

Wallace said Wednesday that a planned expansion of a Covanta Environment Solutions LLC solid waste transfer facility, considered for Quarry Road, has been put on indefinite hold.

He said the company decided to focus on other projects.

“I wouldn’t consider this 100% dead, but it’s dead for the foreseeable future,” Wallace said.

The supervisor also gave a brief update on what he’s heard regarding the proposed Amazon warehouse facility for Lockport Road, which was approved by the Town Board this past summer.

Wallace said the developer, JB2 Partners, believes the project is still going to move forward. But he’s a bit skeptical, watching the company continue to contract as the American economy continues to battle high inflation stemming from concerns in Ukraine and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My guess is as good as everyone else’s,” he said about the project’s future.

According to numerous national media outlets in September, the company announced plans to close or cancel 44 and delay another 27 warehouse facilities, though the list did not include the Niagara location.

Facilities included locally were a planned delivery center in Hamburg, delayed from a planned third quarter 2022 opening, and a fulfillment center – similar in mission to the Niagara facility – in Gates, outside Rochester, pushed back from fourth quarter 2022.

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