LEWISTON, N.Y. (WIVB) – Neighbors say something stinks about the proposed Bridgewater Estates senior luxury apartments in Lewiston – namely, who’s behind the project.
Steven Reiter, the former Lewiston supervisor, was questioned last year by the FBI as part of an investigation into use of taxpayer-funded services and equipment on private property.
Reiter has a 19 percent ownership stake in Bridgewater Estates, LLC, which is seeking to build the 138-unit apartments at the corner of Route 104 and Model City Road.
Lewiston’s Zoning Board of Appeals put off approval of the project on Thursday night, following a public hearing where residents and the attorney for a neighboring business park voiced their opposition.
“It is crystal clear in [Lewiston's comprehensive plan] that what the town envisions for this part of the town and east is low-density residential. This is clearly not low-density residential,” said Charles Greico, an attorney representing Lewiston International Business Park, which has filed a lawsuit to block the apartment development.
Residents who live next door and across the street are worried about the dangers posed by increased traffic entering and leaving the apartments, and about poor drainage on the lot. The development would add two ponds.
“And it’s literally a foot outside of my fence line,” Maryann Day, who owns a house that the apartment property would horseshoe around, told News 4. “The ground bubbles like a witches’ brew when it rains too much, but we’re going to add 139 apartments?”
Many are also distrustful because of Reiter’s involvement.
“I’d like to have you guys reconsider all of it,” Marland Schmitt, who lives directly across the street, told the Zoning Board. “There were some other agendas when Mr. Reiter was in office.”
Reiter’s mother used to own the land. She sold it to Bridgewater Estates LLC for $1.4 million last year.
“His motive is money. He wants to line his pockets. He doesn’t care about me or my children or what’s going to happen,” Day said.
Lewiston’s Town Board approved the plan for apartments in July 2013, after a six-month review process. Attorneys for Bridgewater say that several environmental studies found no negative impact, and that the State DOT determined an extensive traffic study wasn’t necessary.
“My client has not done anything wrong. They’ve provided all of the documentation, all of the engineering plans and everything that’s required for the approvals for this project,” attorney Jennifer Dougherty said.
“This was before the Planning Board, which Mr. Reiter was no part of. This was before the ZBA, which he was not a member of. And Mr. Reiter – there was an incorrect entry in the NCIDA application, stating that Mr. Reiter was the owner of the property. He was not the owner of the property, never was at any time. It was Marjorie Reiter, his mother’s, property. And he recused himself from the vote at the Town Board meeting on July 22, 2013,” she said.
Following Thursday’s public hearing, the Zoning Board of Appeals chose to table further discussion of the project until its next meeting in June.