Weekly Feature

2018-04-12 / Front Page

Supervisor: salon ideal for Union Road location

Residents say design standards create safety concerns, lower neighborhood property values

Since the adoption of the West Seneca Comprehensive Master Plan in February 2016, no business has dared be the flagship under the rule-changing vision — until Monday night.

The lot at 1420 Union Road has been approved for rezoning from residential to commercial to allow for a parking lot to be constructed at the site of the future “Revolution” salon.

Approval from the West Seneca Town Board came after nearly 40 minutes of resistance from neighbors on Greymont Avenue during a public hearing on the request.

“We’re fighting this. We don’t want it at all,” said Charles Siwy, a homeowner on Greymont who said the business will lower his property’s value by $12,000.

The owner of another property estimated a drop of at least 20 percent, an injustice following years of work to make the lot a home.

Residents argued that they did not intend to live in a commercial area when they purchased their homes.

“I think the proprietor has done their homework,” said Supervisor Sheila Meegan. “Mr. Siwy, you referred to your structure as having commercial on all three sides, so you’re already in a commercial area.”

The supervisor added that the investment in the town by this business owner has been substantial.

“I don’t see that we’re putting you in harm’s way because this was already there,” she said.

Frank Wailand, of F.J. Wailand Associates Inc. in West Seneca, represented the business owner and said the business will face Union Road with 17 parking spaces in the rear of the property.

Wailand said the driveway will be widened to commercial standards, with screening and an emergency vehicle entrance to the parking lot with a Knox lock gate for fire department access from Greymont.

A single light will be in the parking lot to reduce light filtration, and Wailand said the business will maintain typical hours, with a half-day on Saturdays and closed on Sundays, except by appointment only.

Certain aspects of the site plan bring safety concerns to others in the neighborhood.

Jessica and Robert Shanahan have three young boys in their home on Greymont. The couple said their children should be able to live on a residential street without the worry that comes with the constant flow of commercial traffic.

“From Center Road to Holland [Avenue], there’s at least 10 kids on our street, from a few months old,” Robert Shanahan said.

“Growing kids, and we all play and we all love each other. We all take care of each other,” Jessica Shanahan said. “It’s hard to feel that hominess when you have a parking lot and a 14-foot gate.”

Siwy said this is a prime example of spot zoning.

“You can put something in there that’s not going to be friendly, without too much trouble,” he said, adding that with a variance the site could become home to retail, laundry services, offices, a drive-in bank, hotel or motel, or a day care center.

According to the board, the project meets all of the town’s design standards and is in compliance with the comprehensive plan. Additionally, the board noted that this is the flagship business to fall under the Union Road Overlay District.

“The Union Road Overlay District is what the applicant is seeking to comply with, and that is a legislative decision of the Town Board as opposed to a guiding principle that the comprehensive plan would establish,” said Town Attorney John Fenz.

“We’re going to approve this tonight because of the comprehensive plan, and the law and all of this is on their side and the side of where the town, as a whole, wants to move,” Meegan said, noting that movement is in the direction of a walkable community.

The supervisor said this is the ideal development type for similar lots along Union Road.

Site owner Michelle Monaco said the comprehensive plan suggests having retail space up front, parking in the rear, and investing in the rebeautification of Union Road to make it a walkable community, which is exactly what they have outlined.

“If we can successfully push one business through to do that, I think other businesses will follow. There’s three or four folks waiting to see what happens here because they don’t want to run into the same issues we’re facing,” Monaco said. “I’m hoping this will spearhead a project that in the long run will be appreciated by the entire town.”

The project will now go before the West Seneca Planning Board for site plan approval.

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