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Landmarking meeting airs gripes about Preservation Board

Mike Desmond

Buffalo's Common Council wants some changes in the way buildings and neighborhoods in the city are landmarked.

The Buffalo Preservation Board recently set up a sub-committee to look around the city to find buildings everyone always thought were landmarks and make them legal landmarks. The Council agenda Tuesday included three: Kensington High School, Masten Avenue Armory and the joint Bennett High School and All-High Stadium.

There has also been a struggle over two privately owned Frank Lloyd Wright homes, whose owners say they were not properly notified of the attempt to landmark them. Councilmember Joel Feroleto said advance notification is an issue.

"There have been other properties where the homeowner comes to the public hearing at the Buffalo Common Council and stated that they have never had notification from the Preservation Board," said the Delaware District representative. "So the Preservation Board is required to have the public hearing first and we've heard at least a few times where property owners say they were unaware that the Preservation Board had a public hearing."

Council President Darius Pridgen said he wants transparency in the process.

"These are some significant buildings, personally, at this point, that should be landmarked. I just want to know the process why we're receiving three immediately, approximately," Pridgen said. "If there is a rhyme or reason, fine. What I want to make sure is that the public knows that there isn't someone going out cherry picking or waking up in the middle of the night and saying, 'Let's landmark this building.'"

Feroleto's proposed changes to the preservation ordinance would require notice of possible landmarking to owners by certified mail.

"All we're doing is just changing it so that the property owner's notified," Feroleto said. "They're sent the notice of the public hearing via certified mail and that way we know that it got to the owner's house."

The three potential landmarks on the Council agenda will get public hearings May 22.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Bennett High School is among the structures up for landmarking.

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.
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