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'Historic landmark' tag saves Amherst home from demolition

A woman faces away from the camera, addressing Amherst's Town Board of two men and two women, with one additional member absent, while cameras record and fellow residents look on from their seats.
Alex Simone / WBFO-NPR
An resident addresses Amherst's Town Board during a meeting Feb. 26 at Amherst Town Hall.

The fate of 22 Chateau Terrace has been a concern for Amherst residents for weeks, but the property’s new historic landmark designation means owner Benderson Development has to find an alternative to tearing down the property.

Sam Smith, who supports keeping the home, says it’s among the oldest in Snyder and one of only a few that has a stucco plaster exterior.

”If we are not being taught something, we are teaching ourselves and then having to teach others, so we've learned a lot," she said. "We've definitely have missed stuff and, to the point where we feel like, yes, we're running behind, but that still doesn't mean you need to demolish some of the oldest commercial buildings in Schneider, or not designate an entire property part of a historic district.”

The Historic Preservation Committee also pledged its support to designate the property a local historic landmark.

Prior to the official vote, multiple speakers questioned the board’s motives, with the audience interjecting several times to cheer, until board members opted for a five-minute recess.

Despite the board unanimously designating the property a landmark, it’s too late to completely prevent demolition, since the garage was torn down in January.

Residents aren’t alone in their frustration with how Benderson has handled the property, Amherst Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa said.

“When the garage came down, I did very verbally, at a work session prior to the last public hearing, express my outrage over the demolition of the garage," he said. "Since then, the property's been looked after, by police and code enforcement, because I’ve made it very clear that we're not letting anything else happen to the house.”

Benderson has not returned a request for comment, but previously expressed extreme opposition to the possible designation in a letter to the town board.

Jessica Black and other residents would be willing to buy the property, if that’s what’s needed to save the house, Black said.