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Developer proposes changes to Elmwood Village project

rendering from Ciminelli Real Estate

Ciminelli Real Estate has pulled back part of its ambitious $40 million development near Elmwood and Bidwell. The developer, however, remains committed to building its Reverie project at Elmwood and Potomac.

The company was before the city Planning Board Monday explaining its general plan and saying it would be under the Green Code, hoping to start building this summer.

There was a hostile audience awaiting the proposal .

"There's been no community outreach at all, whatsoever, since this project was proposed," said one speaker, Gretchen Cercone.

"We have gotten our thoughts out. We have organized on our own. I have not once been contacted by Amber Holycross, by Mr. Penman, by anyone asking. We're organizing people all the time. We're organizing our own community meetings."

Opponents say there have been meetings but they aren't allowed to present their side of the fight.

Ciminelli lawyer Adam Walters sought to offer a conciliatory tone. 

"We'll engage stakeholders. We'll try to address concerns, as reasonably as we can. And, we'll try to overcome project objections so that everybody's happy at the end of the day," Walters said. 

"But, we can't make everybody happy. That's why we have a Planning Board.""

A major issue is that Ciminelli wants to build nine-feet higher than the Green Code allows and wants a variance to allow that. As an opponent shouted to reporters later, that's the equivalent of another floor for the building.

"It's as if they took a building from Williamsville and threw it up in our neighborhood," said Cherylrose Budd, who lives in the neighborhood.

"If we wanted to live in Williamsville, we would move there."

The four variances the developer wants require action before the Zoning Board of Appeals, possibly in March.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.