Amherst business owner wants developer to put his sign back up

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Jim Russo is starting to have second thoughts about helping a real estate developer build a new sub-division right next door in the Town of Amherst.

The Grand Island businessman said the sub-division, Evergreen Landing, needed two entrances to get the approval of town officials, so he let the developer use his driveway — connecting Minor Lanes II bowling alley to Tonawanda Creek Road — for that second entry.

Russo had a big sign along the road guiding bowlers to his 16-lane establishment but it was right in the path of the new street, Cherry Laurel Lane. Russo said he signed an agreement allowing the developer to re-locate the sign — an important sign because Manor Lanes is set in a wooded area roughly 600 feet from the road, which makes it hard to find.

“I had a gentleman the other day who said he lives five minutes from here, and it took him an hour to get here because he kept passing by the place,” Russo said.

While Russo believed the sign was only supposed to be down temporarily starting in May, he said it’s starting to be a financial setback.

“A business with no sign is a sign of no business,” he said. “People think we are closed.”

Russo says the developer blames the Town of Amherst for putting the brakes on his sign.

“Now they are telling me that the town will not allow it because the driveway that I gave them to make into a public road is now a public road, and they have the right of way, and I can’t put a sign on that property,” he said.

In exchange for conveying his access to Tonawanda Creek Road for $1, Russo got the Manor Lanes parking lot paved at the developers expense, and a new water line hook-up.

Call 4 Action contacted an attorney for the developer, who said they are waiting to hear back from the town’s legal department about their options for putting the sign back up. Call 4 Action is also waiting to hear back from the town’s legal department.

Russo said, these are all issues the developer should be taking care of.

“I am trying to run a small business and this was all thrown on me by the fact that they started this development,” he said. “They assured me at the time that this would all be taken care of under their umbrella — not me running around doing all of this.”

Town officials have corresponded with Russo, who believes he has a number of options for his sign. He suggested putting it next to Cherry Laurel Lane, or placing it along Tonawanda Creek Road. He said he could also ask a neighbor to put up the sign on private property.

All of those options would require a zoning variance.

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