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Opposition not wavering to "massive" planned developments in Elmwood Village

City residents and some elected officials are pushing hard for Buffalo's new Green Code to be enforced on a number of massive projects developing in the Elmwood Village.

Critics are attacking a perceived lack of enforcement of the Green Code planning rules, particularly size rules in the new code. Among the large projects campaigners are currently objecting to is Chason Affinity’s proposed development at the highly visible corner of Elmwood and Forest avenues.

The Green Code allows a length of 120 feet, while this plan covers 315 feet. Development critic Gretchen Cercone said she wants to know why the city will not take a stand against developers.

“So we’re right now focusing on hearing from our councilmembers and from the mayor on where they stand on allowing projects that are more than twice the size of what is permitted under the code that they signed into law and voted for unanimously as a common council,” she said.

Another target is Ciminelli Real Estate’s proposed Reverie project at Elmwood and Potomac avenues. Critics say its proposed buildings also violate the 120-foot length limit, saying it would be over two-and-a-half times longer than permitted unless a variance is granted.

Cercone said she and others want a community voice in what happens, especially enforcing the new development rules, as such plans effect the community in a myriad of ways.

“We want to ensure that there is rent in the Elmwood Village that everyone can afford, that young families can afford, that people who are just starting out can afford, that artists can afford," she said. "We’re not interested in seeing five-story walls of condominiums with rents that are only going to attract people who can pay $2,000 a month or higher.”

Cercone said residents also want to make sure they sustain their vibrant and diverse community with historic buildings that are protected. She said the proposed projects are seeking to demolish 12-14 structures in the area to make way for development.

Cercone said allowing code violations sends the wrong message to developers.

“If there are compliant projects that are put forward, they will have community support," she said. "But when they are proposing projects that violate the spirit and the law itself, they are going to face the backlash from the community.”

They hope Mayor Byron Brown, Elmwood Village Councilmember Joel Feroleto and the city’s Office of Strategic Planning take notice.

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.
Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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