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DATO Development's Proposed Townhome Project

Updated: Jan 3

At the 01/02/24 zoning board of appeals meeting, Sean Hopkins on behalf of DATO summarized the project & requested the 5 variances per #4 of the attached agenda.  After his presentation, a number of homeowners spoke against granting the approvals.  However, the chairman of the zoning board pointed out that if they refuse to approve the variances, then DATO can build rental units which do not require any variance approvals.  Sean confirmed that DATO would build rental units.  After the meeting, I discussed the possibility of moving the entrance from Briercliff to Cloverbank.with Sean.  He will look into it.

At the 11/15/23 meeting, the planning board issued a negative declaration which means they believe that the proposed project will not have significant adverse effects on the environment. In addition, the planning board stated that DATO has met the required 27 acres of open space based on the original agreement. The next step is for DATO to request variances with the zoning board. If they receive the variances, they will request preliminary plat approval from the planning board.

At the 10/04/23 planning board meeting, DATO's attorney stated that they have provided the required 27 acres of open space. They are requesting a negative declaration & preliminary plat approval. DATO’s project will be tabled until the 11/15/23 planning board meeting. Waiver of recreation fees is a town board issue which we will address with the town.

On 09/06/23, the Hamburg planning board held another public hearing re: DATO's proposed development. DATO's attorney gave an update. Sean Hopkins presented the 57 unit townhouse subdivision for approval. This rendering included a heart trail, tot lot and acres of unusable open/recreational space.

We presented arguments against the project moving forward. 31 years ago, Burke Builders promised to build a 6 miles long heart trail, build a tot lot and donate 27 acres of open space for recreation. The Burke family has not followed through on their promised land to be used for Briercliff families to recreate.

Rafael Pignataro spoke first regarding the Burke recreation fee waiver in lieu of the 27 acres of permanent open space in the quarry development depicted on the PUD map from 1992. Although they are included on the map, 19 of the 27 acres are unusable (ponds, cliffs, railroad buffers, wetlands, etc.). Rafael went on to say that one parcel that was originally included in the quarry development was moved to Sawgrass. This eliminated open space that Burke was counting in the 27 acres.

Mark Depalma was our second speaker and implored the planning board not to provide a negative declaration to DATO on this project. When DATO proposed building apartments here, the apartments were 140 feet away from the tracks, with proposed garages along the tracks to buffer noise, etc. Since then, average train speeds have increased to an average of 70mph and train traffic has increased 500% (from 100 to 500 trains per week).

Don Grundtisch was the 3rd speaker mentioned that at the last planning board meeting, consultant Drew Riley recommended that DATO’s project be evaluated on its own merits and the homeowners address the recreation fee waiver directly with the town. However, the planning board needs to complete its work. Then the town board can speak to the waiver issue.

Don explained this lack of fidelity has cost the Briercliff HOA thousands of dollars to maintain the ponds and build our own playground.

In our submissions to the Planning Board, using the 1992 map as a guide, we showed that Burke was never held accountable for the promised amount of greenspace/recreation acreage for the PUD. Eagle Ridge Commons, which is currently being developed, was supposed to have 18 acres of greenspace but only has 14. None of the parcels met their proposed greenspace acreage per the 1992 map.

The planning board asked DATO to respond in writing to the issues we presented. In addition, the planning board attorney will be attempting to find the final, signed and executed Town Board resolution that waived the recreation fees. The planning board attorney will be reviewing all of our submittals to date and will provide her recommendation to the planning board by the end of September. DATO’s project will be tabled until the October 4th planning board meeting.

In the meantime, the Board is going to put together a letter to submit to the planning board summarizing our position to date and will request that as many homeowners sign as are willing.

At the 07/19 planning board meeting, DATO requested preliminary approval of their revised plan of 57 townhomes in conjunction with a SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) negative declaration. DATO believes they have the required permanent open space. Another public hearing is scheduled for 09/06. We will be formulating our game plan for the public hearing and encourage a large homeowner turnout. Waiver of recreation fees is a town board issue which we will address with the town.

DATO presented their color-coded map of the open space at the Hamburg planning board meeting on 05/17/23. We sent our color-coded map before the meeting. The definition of open space vs recreation space was discussed. The planning board requested more information from DATO for their next meeting on 07/19. We demonstrated how and why the originally promised recreation space of over 27 acres has been significantly reduced by Burke. The specific acreage and trail system were Burke's legal consideration in return for the town awarding a recreation fee waiver for the entire PUD.

At the 04/05/23 planning board meeting, DATO presented a plan reducing the number of units from 96 to 57 on the 9.37 acres which results in an increase from 1 acre of open space to 5 acres & a 135' buffer from the railroad tracks. The entrances will be reduced from 2 to 1. One entrance will be sold as a duplex. With these changes, DATO believes that they have met the open space acreage requirement. Chairman Bill Clark requested color coded maps of the open space from DATO & from us so he can compare. We will get a copy of DATO's map. DATO was tabled until the 05/17 meeting.

The planning board held a public hearing regarding DATO Development's proposed townhome project on January 4, 2023. We presented a number of exhibits supporting our opposition to the project. The public hearing remained open until the planning board meeting held on February 15, 2023. The meeting was attended by over 50 Briercliff residents. Thank you to everyone who showed up. A number of homeowners reiterated the compelling reasons this development should not be approved. The public hearing was then closed but the Planning Board will still take public input via email or handwritten letters. Per Drew Reilly (engineering consultant to the town), there’s a lot of confusion regarding the PUD and SEQR documents that are over 30 years old, and they have at least 20 boxes to go through. The next public meeting with DATO on the agenda will be on 04/05/23. We are aggressively pushing this greenspace deficiency by Burke/DATO and will pursue all legal options to stop the project. DATO must prove to the town planning board that they have provided the legally required greenspace acreage which Burke guaranteed in return for the town waiving the recreation fees on building permits.

DATO sketch plan
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