Controversial project for Elmwood Village draws residents, business owners to city zoning board meeting

A sketch of the proposed four-story mixed use building Chason Affinity hipes to build at Elmwood and Forest avenues.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A controversial project slated for the Elmwood Village is on hold after it was a hot topic during a city zoning board of appeals meeting Wednesday night.

Chason Affinity is hoping to build a mixed-use building at Elmwood and Forest avenues in the Elmwood Village. The plan requires demolishing some existing structures to build the new building, which would house 40 condos.

Chason Affinity is asking the zoning board to make some exceptions to the newly established Green Code for the proposed building. According to the Green Code, the structure should not exceed three stories tall-  but Chason Affinity is looking to build four stories. They’re also asking for 195 extra feet in length.

Dozens of residents and business owners came out Wednesday to speak both for and against the project.

Those in support of the project feel it will spark more commercial spending in the area and benefit local business. Those against it say that it spits in the face of the new green code, and goes against the tradition of Elmwood Village architecture, which features mostly shorter buildings with less modern architecture.

Councilmember Joel Feroleto indicated the vast majority of residents he’s heard from support the variances to the Chason Affinity project.

A legal expert testified the developers have the legal grounds to request the veriances currently on the table, even given the Green Code.

The moderator of the Appeals Meeting,  James A. Lewis, had to call the crowd to order on several occasions, as residents voiced frustration when the public comment period was over.

More than two dozen residents indicated they planned to speak on the issue.

The developer admitted during the hearing it’s impossible to please everyone, but stated he disagrees the project disregards the Green Code altogether.

The developer indicated he current proposal “underdevelops” the site.

Many residents argued the demolition is a threat to historic buildings in the area. The developer argued to Lewis that simply because buildings fit a certain character, doesn’t qualify them as historic.

The Zoning Board will either approve or deny Chason Affinity’s requests for variances.

The project will be revisited next month.

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