Amherst neighbors want trucking company to hit the road

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – A showdown is brewing in Amherst between a trucking company and people who live nearby.

Neighbors argue it’s time for Mallare Enterprises’ big trucks to hit the road. But the company says, after more than 70 years at its present location, it has a right to stay.

The Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals has issued temporary permits for Mallare, allowing the company to keep its offices in a residential neighborhood on North Ellicott Creek Road since 2001, raising the question: How long is “temporary”?

Joe Palmieri and Melanie Smith started raising the issue after they bought their home next door, thinking the trucking company was only there temporarily.

“The noise… they start very early in the morning,” said Palmieri.

The couple soon learned the temporary use permit for Mallare Enterprises, on property zoned as agricultural, gets renewed every two years.

Palmieri and Smith now have a 1-year-old daughter, and Palmieri objects to the noise and the dust.

“It is very loud, it shakes our house. They use machines, like excavators and front wheel loaders, that shake our house.”

The couple almost feel trapped, because the company owns three lots adjacent to their home along the east and the north property lines. The couple is baffled that a heavy duty trucking company can operate in a residential neighborhood, zoned agricultural, and Smith said their neighbors are baffled, too.

“How it is even here in the first place, and that nobody has really done anything about it. But we are here to stand up, and we want our neighborhood back.”

Terry Ameno, a retired auto worker, has been living down the road from the trucking company for 27 years, and just built a new house next to his old residence.

Ameno said he doesn’t object to the trucking company taking care of business, he just wants it to move from the neighborhood to an area more suitable for heavy trucks.

“The trucks come up, they rattle your house. I lived in a 164-year-old house until we moved here. That house would shake, the dust is unbelievable.”

Clarence attorney Jeff Palumbo represents Mallare Enterprises, and said the property has been occupied by a trucking company under various owners since 1942, and is “grandfathered” in.

“Because the trucking company existed prior to the enactment of the [town zoning] ordinance, then the use of the trucking company is continued to be allowed. It is allowed as a trucking company. The change of ownership does not mean anything, it is the use of the property,” explained Palumbo.

The Amherst Zoning Board of Appeals took up the temporary permit issue again Tuesday night, but attorney Palumbo said this latest permit is for the house that Mallare now uses for its office, not the business itself.

“It is a classic case of ‘not in my backyard.’ These folks regret the decision, in my opinion, that they purchased a house next to a trucking company, and they are regretting that decision. So they are doing everything they can to stop the company,” said Palumbo.

But neighbors, such as Palmieri and Smith, spoke out against the zoning board’s “temporary permits” that seem to be permanent.

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