Tonawanda News

The City

December 18, 2013

City zoning board denies People Inc.'s request again

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — The location of the parking lots as well as the number of spots were also not up to code.

Sean Hopkins, an attorney representing People Inc., appeared before the board Monday night to discuss some of the members’ concerns. Since the last meeting, People Inc. hired an engineer to conduct a traffic study which indicated that during peak hours, traffic around the building would be less than what it was during its time as a school.

“While yes, there would be an increased traffic in comparison to a vacant building, it would not be significant,” Hopkins said. “Whatever goes on there is going to generate some traffic.”

Hopkins also said that People Inc. has completed a draft of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement, a $6,000 offer that Assessor Dave Marrano said is too low.

“We would be looking at between $500 and $1,000 per unit to be on target with other PILOT programs,” he said. “What I would suggest is that we sit down with these folks and make sure we get a fair return for them coming into the city.”

But he noted that the PILOT aspect of the project is up to the common council, not the zoning board, and spoke to the merits of the redevelopment.

“In defense of People Inc., there has been a lot of research on reuse of residential schools,” he said. “The reuse potential for anything beyond residential use is outright impossible. You are not going to see a commercial building, you’re not going to see a retail building.”

The building has been vacant since 2009.

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.

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