Category “Planning Board”

“Green Light in Amherst”

We were having trouble deciding who wrote an editorial “Green Light in Amherst” in a local publication.

At first its amateurish pie-in-the-sky tone sounded typical, Wow, Amherst is getting Cricket AND Pickleball too!!

But eventually we realized it’s probably highlights from some powerpoint presentation Kulpa and/or Mensch (what’s the difference?) sent to the publication.

There is so much wrong with this piece of propaganda:

1. “The plan to transform more than 200 acres of prime real estate in Amherst cleared a key hurdle last week.”

We bet all of you Amherst Taxpayers, who wonder where your land and taxdollars went, didn’t know you were just “a hurdle” to be cleared. This disrespect tells me Kulpa/Mensch/Ciminelli, et al is behind this editorial.

2. “Indeed, it’s easy to see this development as part of a larger vision by Supervisor Brian Kulpa”

Right. The larger vision of Kulpa is to show that he plays nice with Big Money so that he can move on to Albany. He’ll probably brag that he did it all in a Pandemic without telling anyone the truth of what was going on.

3. “Developers are going to develop; the ventures on the Audubon property allow Mensch to profit from its investment.”

People of Amherst – It might be public land and taxpayer money but who are you to think you have any say in it? These are the masters of Amherst, they know better of what is good for the people, ignoring what they have repeatedly been told. We are just useful pawns to pay for their corruption. We are in Orwellian territory. Animal Farm and stifling voices. It is extraordinarily scary!

4. “but it wouldn’t make much sense for the Westwood property – which stretches near North Forest Road from Sheridan Drive to Maple Road – to remain vacant for another generation.”

Why not? What’s wrong with park land? What’s wrong with it remaining vacant for 10 generations? What’s wrong with keeping it a golf course?
Must all of Amherst be bulldozed and paved? Does Amherst need another Hotel, Office Building, or Parking Lot?

5. “ Growth and development are inevitable in Amherst, which once consisted largely of farmland.”

The old “Manifest Destiny” play: Concrete good, Farmland bad. Vacant land only exists to be turned into profits for Developers. That isn’t a field to walk your dog through, it’s a 4 story parking ramp. That isn’t a ball field, it’s the UBMD 250,000 sq ft building. You don’t want to play golf, you want virtual golf.

Finally, “ Not everyone will get what they want from the project”.
Well it sure looks like the Town Board & the Developers won and Amherst lost.

But why do the Developers always win? One reason is because they count on us being NIMBY’s (a name developers made up and always used to divide). Those close to Westwood/Audubon don’t much care about Transit Road and vice versa. And neither care about Amazon grabbing Grand Island land. What we need is a person or body of people who will coordinate against these attacks, get the big picture, and fight for the rights of residents and their healthy environment.

Sadly, we already have that “person or body of people.” They’re called the Town Board and Town Board Supervisor but instead of helping us they’re selling us out. And it’s the same all over Erie County where Big Money buys the influence of those who are supposed to be looking out for us.

Comments (1)

OPEN MESSAGE TO TOWN BOARD

Amherst Town Board Councilmembers

By Judy Ferraro

To start…a few points

I firmly believe that everyone should have proper information and a voice in what should be built on Westwood and their Audubon Parkland. All will be varied, depending on where they live, priorities thereof, and recreational interests. That applies even among our own small group. exemplifying why it is so important for everyone to have the information and is able to partake in the development of these two prime beautiful examples of green space in Amherst.

There is no hard resolution deadline to proceed at warp speed as we are doing. It was changed once It can again. The resolution is non-binding.

Whatever was done before is irrelevant. It is the current plan that is being obfuscated and out of the public eye. This project having a document dump on July 2 and the SEQR submitted, today, the day of the vote, should never happen…All of you should know that.

Message:

I appreciate the efforts put forth to acquire Westwood and make it a beautiful, passive park with a touch of classic entertainment provided by Musical Fare. I appreciate the committees chosen to brainstorm as to how the transfer of Westwood would/could be achieved. I was on one of those committees. My understanding of committees, working with honorable people, on an honorable task, is that, in the end, the combined findings make their way to the owners…In this case, it is the PUBLIC. It is the TAXPAYERS. It is THEIR land, THEIR money and THEIR lives that will be affected by the consequences.. good or bad. THEY are the integral part of this transaction. And THEY have been excluded and their voices stifled. Is that/was that by design???

Deciding to move this latest rendition forward in a fog of no information or convoluted, confusing information while everyone is still in a Covid-19 stupor is disgusting, corrupt and evil. It is a breathtaking abuse of power…And a serious diversion of what you all ran on. Residents first. No, This is a blatant display of developers first, probably the worst that I have seen. And a wholesale sell-off of our parkland. The alienation of 93 acres was a huge mistake, in your hands! Any one who is complicit in this subterfuge, knowingly or not…would hopefully reexamine and/ or educate yourselves as to the underhandedness of what is going on here and deny the rezone, or any other action until such time as the public can be informed with all the details including financially and how their taxes will be affected. To do otherwise is an abdication of your duty to the electorate and betrays who you truly are.

Now, suddenly, we have to supercharge the charade to get it done? Still without people being fully informed and able to participate in decisions, while in a pandemic. Is it possible to be more out-of-touch, arrogant and corrupt??

Who knows, the community may like what you have created. But until they are told, no one knows. As it stands, the question now is, Westwood at what cost, the public must decide not selected people or group in CENTRAL PLANNING.

Never forget that you govern by the consent of the governed. They can’t be ignored. Deliberately circumventing them as you have been doing procedurally during the entire process is criminal. Subjugating yourselves to be in the service of developers to destroy central Amherst under the language of Amherst Central Park only underscores the web of deceit that you have employed to perpetrate one of the biggest con jobs on the people of Amherst.

Vote NO on any Comprehensive Plan amendment and/or rezoning of anything until the people are fully informed. This exchange of the people’s parkland is too important for the community to be excluded.

Comments (21)

SPECIAL Planning Board Meeting Thursday, June 25th at 6:30 PM

 

UPDATE June 25th:    Apparently the rezoning vote on June 18th will stand. A procedural problem with a previous Z-2020-04 vote on April 23rd requires another vote to rescind that action at the next Planning Board meeting on Aug 20th.


This is a rather unusual situation since the Planning Board met just last week. What’s going on here?

Agenda: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2676&Inline=True

The Minutes of June 18th Planning Board haven’t yet been finalized, and somehow a Special Planning Board meeting has been scheduled in less than a week to reconsider a rezoning request that was unanimously voted down at that meeting.

REQUEST TO REZONE 0.39± ACRES FROM R-3 TO OB,
Z-2020-04 Property located at 21 Klein Road (835 Hopkins Road)
RJK Buffalo Properties LLC, Petitioner

Call-In Instructions: 1-646-558-8656
Meeting ID: 842 7493 5505
Password: 743990

For those who would like to see something different and educational, this is the meeting for you.

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Planning Board Meeting Thursday May 21st

Source: Z-2020-05_500 Maple Rd_052120_Drawings

Just a reminder that the Planning Board will hold five PUBLIC HEARINGS this Thursday May 21st at 6:30 pm via Zoom video conferencing.

Agenda: http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2635&Inline=True

The last two public hearings concern the preparation of 14.97 acres of the Audubon recreational area for sale to a private owner. The fourth public hearing is to discuss if the Comprehensive Plan should be amended to allow this rezoning (RC to CF).  Expect a quick positive vote with little discussion so they can move on to the main event of the evening, the rezoning request.

The fifth and final public hearing is to discuss the rezoning of a portion of 500 Maple Rd (Audubon) by Audubon Park MOB LLC, petitioner. Also expect a rather quick positive vote with little discussion. The deal to get a UBMD facility built on this parcel has been in the works for months. Over a year ago the town’s started the process to request that the State grant the alienation 93 acres of Audubon property in anticipation of selling some or all of it.

Comments (1)

He feels the NEED… the NEED for SPEED…

Source: Z-2020-05_500 Maple Rd_052120_Drawings

The agenda of the May 21st Planning Board meeting contains two public hearings related to the 500 Maple Rd rezoning that must be held quickly in order for the Supervisor to get his Audubon parkland alienation/UBMD/Westwood/Ciminelli/500 Maple Rd rezoning deal done on time.  But the clock is ticking, TICK, TICK, TICK!

How much time remains to get this deal done you might ask. The short answer is apparently 9 months after Oct 3, 2019. The Governor signed Senate Bill S6285A into law for the Audubon parkland alienation on Oct 3, 2019.


For those who want the messy details, let’s start with Town Board Resolution 2019-617 of May 20, 2019 which states at one point that …

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a signed MOU for the Town’s question of  Westwood must be in place within 9 months or the Town Board directs the Town Attorney to re-designate the Audubon property as inalienable parkland,  and

Resolution 2019-617:  https://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?ID=20469

But it wasn’t until Aug 19, 2019 when Resolution 2019-990 was adopted that the unsigned MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) first appeared in public. This MOU contained a 9 month “Exclusivity” clause between the Town of Amherst and Bones&Guts, LLC, a legal entity insulating other involved parties.

Resolution 2019-990:  http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?ID=20882&highlightTerms=2019-990

Will the Town of Amherst hold true to it’s promise of a 9 month window to get this deal done?  The answer is  … MAYBE, it all depends how much we trust our Town Board to act with honesty and integrity.

Comments (3)

Planning Board Meeting May 21th

The Amherst Planning Board will meet via Zoom video conferencing on Thursday May 21th at 6:30 pm. The Planning Board “public work session” is 30 minutes earlier at 6 pm.

According to the agenda the public will be allowed to participate this time.  At the last Planning Board meeting on April 23rd the public was not allowed to speak at any of the public hearings.

Agenda : http://amherstny.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=2635&Inline=True

There are 5 PUBLIC HEARINGS on the agenda (2) for SITE PLANS (1) for SUBDIVISIONS and (2) for REZONING/BICENTENNIAL PLAN CHANGES. These last two (4 and 5) are by far the most widely concerning to all Amherst residents.

Property located at 500 Maple Road (portion)
Audubon Park MOB LLC, Petitioner

This is the comp plan/rezoning portion of the “UBMD deal” the Supervisor has been putting together. It started with the alienation of 14.97 acres of the Audubon recreational area by New York State. Where it ends is as yet a mystery. More details soon!

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TRUST- the “glue” that BINDS the people AND government

Where PUBLIC TRUST starts!

One sad aspect of the closed-to-the-public government in the Town of Amherst during this time of a pandemic is going to be the possible lingering impression somehow town government likes it that way. This is not good for anyone, either the public or town government because it can erode the public trust of town government.

Historically public participation in town government has been lackluster at best, with only a few residents bothering to come to Town Board meetings, and even fewer to Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals meetings. Of course there have been times when public attendance at a specific Town Board or other meeting has been “through the roof”, but these are rare. The recent upset with the proposed changes to the Audubon Golf Course comes to mind here.

It is understandable that knowing that public participation at Town Board meeting is normally quite small that the Supervisor would conclude that there was no need to allow the public to “attend” a video only Town Board meeting. But the recent large and complex Planning Board and ZBA agendas tell another story to those willing to listen.  The Planning Board chairman can be heard on the April 23rd meeting video stating loudly and often that no public comments would be allowed based on the Supervisor’s Executive Orders to that effect.

One blatant example that comes to mind immediately is the seemingly fast and furious effort of the Planning Board and ZBA to move a specific project located on Park Club Lane as quickly as possible past all the hurdles it faced with little/no public participation or potential public opposition.  What makes this process even more suspicious is that the attorney for the petitioner and his support people were allowed to present their arguments for the project inactively over video while all public attendees were continuously muted and could only listen! At one point there were 52 people on this video meeting, but ONLY the Planning Board members, appropriate town staff, or agents for the petitioner could speak (i.e., were NOT muted)

The Town Board was also busy this year providing “Relief of Zoning Condition” for a project on Park Club Lane. Check out Resolution 2020-215  passed at the March 6th Town Board meeting just before the Supervisor’s first Executive Order of March 15th.

Comments (1)

MISSING: Public participation at Town Public Meetings this week!

This is a full week for Amherst Town government activity.

1. The Town Board “meets” on Monday, April 20 at 4 pm.
2. The Zoning Board of Appeals “meets” on Tuesday, April 21 at 6:30 pm.
3. The Planning Board “meets” on Thursday,  April 23 at 6:30 pm.  (“Pre-meeting” at 6 pm)

Link to Agendas :   http://amherstny.iqm2.com/citizens/

The agenda content for each of these “meeting” is full, in fact very full as if for the Town of Amherst, the corona virus pandemic is not happening.   It’s business as usual, and get as much done as possible regardless of the collateral damage to meetings caused by the pandemic.

But there is one thing that is different, actually overwhelming different.  It appears ways of fully including the public in the process of a “public meeting” do not yet exist.  While it is clear that the corona virus pandemic makes public gathering almost impossible at this time, it is also clear that the the town hasn’t yet found OR proven it has an minimally adequate replacement.

The Town of Amherst must first PROVE, not ASSUME, that the Zoom Meetings videoconferencing process it is attempting to use for the first time for ZBA and Planning Board meetings is “good enough” to support robust and meaningful public participation.  Starting with meetings that contain heavily loaded agendas,  where some of these items appear both complex and controversial is asking for trouble.

So start simple, reduce the number of agenda items and put off the controversial ones for a month or two. Work out the problems with Zoom Meetings videoconferencing, and if it is not good enough, find a better way and test that method. But don’t fail to adequately provide for public participation by insisting to schedule large agendas where public participation is not properly supported.


ALSO ...

  • Town Board: The Town Board “meeting” this Monday does not even support any meaningful or effective form of public participation. No live streaming. just a video posted later. The justification appears to be that since this “meeting” has no public hearing, no live streaming and no public expression is OK.
  • Planning Board: Also it appears the Planning Board agenda is a “double stuff” one, at least two months of REGULAR agenda items crammed into one. Actually it might even be more than that, so this agenda is even more suspicious than usual as to why it is NOW so full.

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New Way for Important Government Meetings in Amherst

The Town Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Planning Board meetings for the month of April will held remotely using videoconferencing software. While this is the right way to protect the board members, town employees and public from potential viral infection, it also makes it more difficult to have a public meeting that is truly public.

The ZBA announced it would use Zoom videoconferencing for its April 21, 2020 meeting with the meeting id and password on the Town of Amherst (TOA) website. The Planning Board later followed with its own Zoom videoconferencing meeting id and password for its April 23, 2020 meeting.

TOA website link: http://www.amherst.ny.us/content/track-us.php

The Town Board held its March 25th and April 6th meetings using remote videoconferencing software, but decided not to publish the meeting id’s or passwords. Will they do this for the next Town Board meeting?

Comments (8)

Big Buildings Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood – Benderson Edition

Fittingly the former Friendly’s Restaurant on Sweet Home and Maple is

about to become very un-friendly with a proposed 6-story hotel working

its way thru town approvals. Site plan approval for this “friendly hotel”

is on the Planning Board agenda for its next meeting on Feb 20 at 6:30 at

Town Hall.

 

Comments (1)