Weekly Feature

2017-07-13 / Front Page

Proposal for more apartments in village agitates homeowners

by CHRIS GRAHAM
Editor

One point is clear after Monday’s Village Board meeting, residents of the village want to see anything but another apartment building in the area.

The board held separate public hearings on two projects of Orchard Park Square LLC that would involve the creation of apartments.

The first public hearing dealt with a property at 4391 S. Buffalo St.

Mayor Jo Ann Litwin Clinton said the board would not be taking action on that property because the application she received had no mention of demolition of a building and new construction. She said the public notice did include the information.

Kevin Walsh, an attorney for the developers, said the plan would be to demolish a two-story home on the property and build one structure containing four townhouses with garages. The property is known as the Park Square Apartments, which Orchard Park Square LLC purchased in August 2015.

Michael Capriotto, who serves as the president of the Woodlawn Cemetery Association, was representing the interests of the cemetery, saying additional growth would cause more issues for the cemetery property, which is located at 4443 S. Buffalo St.

Capriotto said tenants use the cemetery’s road for parking and access to the complex.

“Increasing the density there is going to create more hardships for the cemetery association, our road upkeep and general maintenance that we shouldn’t have to do with increased traffic,” Capriotto said.

“If the project goes further, I’d like to see the residents be more respectful of the cemetery property, and in order to do that, a permanent barrier has to be erected at their expense to make sure that the cemetery property is not construed to be part of their apartment complex.”

Emery Wittmeyer, a resident of South Buffalo Street, brought up concerns with drainage from two catch basins on the property. He also had issues with where the property would put its snow and with the loss of greenspace.

Julie Carroll, who also lives on South Buffalo Street, had a litany of concerns with the project.

“I’m concerned about the balconies that I’ve heard are going to be going there. If there’s balconies they’re going to be watching us eat dinner and drink coffee in the morning,” Carroll said.

She added that there would be lighting for the tenants that would be shining into her backyard. She also said that with the garages being added, the chances increase of pets from the residences using area lawns to relieve themselves.

She also said that if trees are cut down for the garages, around 100 mourning doves, which nest in the area every night at dusk, would relocate.

The other hearing dealt with a property at 4403 S. Buffalo St. Walsh said the home on the premises would be demolished and replaced with a building that would house a nonretail office on the first floor and one apartment on the second floor. There would also be seven additional parking spaces on the property.

Greg Wollen, also a resident of South Buffalo Street, said the types of structures that would potentially be constructed do not fit into what the village is trying to do.

According to Wollen, there are 957 one-, two- and three-resident houses, but also 367 apartments.

“Do we want our village to show up as one giant apartment complex? Because that’s the way it’s going,” Wollen said.

He added that the construction of the two proposed buildings would take away the residential feel of the neighborhood and make it more industrial.

“Pretty soon when you run into somebody and you say you’re from Orchard Park, they’re going to say, ‘What apartment complex do you live in?’ rather than ‘What street do you live on?’”

Wollen also said the developers shouldn’t be replacing historic-looking homes with industrial-type structures.

Howard Rost, a resident of South Lincoln Avenue, opposed both projects, adding that he doesn’t mind the demolition of the homes as long as other single-family homes go up on the properties. He also said there are far too many townhouses on South Buffalo Street now.

“We don’t need any more apartments in here, and as far as I’m concerned, if they do put apartments in there, I’d like to see the name of Orchard Park changed to ‘Apartment Park’ because that’s where we’re headed,” Rost said.

Litwin Clinton added that both projects still have to go through the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals before any action is taken.

Plans for both projects are available for view in the Village Office.

email: cgraham@beenews.com

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