Weekly Feature

2017-04-20 / Front Page

EA Planning Commission moves forward with Hamlin Avenue rezoning

by KATE PELCZYNSKI
Editor

The East Aurora Village Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend that the Village Board rezone a property on Hamlin Avenue from Residential to Residential Group-New Townhouse. The decision, which was made Tuesday during a Planning Commission meeting, comes after strong opposition from neighbors who live on the street.

“I just think that when you look at the Comprehensive Plan, it clearly is showing that this area is one for revitalization, but in a way that does not adversely affect the character and balance,” said Dan Castle, chairman of the commission.

The plan, developed by RAS Development I LLC, would create a two-story,

15-apartment complex at 41

Hamlin Ave.

Currently, the site is home to an abandoned bus garage. Rent in the apartments would range from $1,500 to $1,900 a month.

Despite the commission’s decision to recommend rezoning, several neighbors shared their concerns about the plan. Paige Heutter, who lives near the proposed development, said that while the site is an eyesore, an apartment complex isn’t the answer.

“I understand something should go there, but it’s hard to see, especially living at this end of town. Everyone that lives in the village loves the village because it’s quiet and quaint.”

Mark Warren, a Center Street resident and a member of the Historic Preservation Board, worried about how the complex will impact the historic nature of Hamlin Street, named for businessman Cicero Hamlin.

According to Warren, Hamlin owned a large horse farm that spanned from Maple Street to the northern part of Main Street. He said there are three remaining vestiges of that farm, one of which is located at 19 Hamlin Ave., just one house from the proposed development.

“I think we all know, living in this village, our historic character in this village is core to our identity, and we all care a great deal about that,” he said. “We need to think about impact on that historic resource.”

Daniel Sheff, a member of the Hamlin/Fillmore/North Willow/ Parkdale Neighborhood Association, presented the board with a petition containing signatures of residents in the village opposed to the project. He also told the commission about Freedom of Information Act documentation he requested, which shows that the intersection of Main Street and Hamlin Avenue was the “third most accident prone” intersection in the village.

Peter Sorgi, attorney for RAS Development I LLC, said he is willing to work with neighbors on the plan.

“It’s the right thing to do, and frankly, it’s the best thing to do for us, anyways, from a pure business perspective,” he said.

The recommendation, however, comes with several stipulations. The commission said the developers must “obtain site plan approval for the development consistent with the character and the history of the area.” The developers must also provide any necessary documentation required by the Village Board regarding traffic impacts that may be more detailed or comprehensive than what it has been provided.

Castle said two things everyone can agree on is the current site is an eyesore and needs to be cleaned up.

“I think everyone wants to see this site become some productive use for the village. So the big question before us is, what is an appropriate level of development at that site?”

The commission’s recommendation will go to the Village Board, which will review the facts and vote on it in the near future.

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