Clarence subdivision plan stalled for decades is now subject of court fight

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A developer is taking the Town of Clarence to court to revive a planned upscale subdivision that remains stalled even after receiving Town Board backing two years ago.

Cimato Enterprises is asking a judge to let it proceed with its proposed Woodland Hills subdivision – a project of 76 houses more than 25 years in the making.

The legal fight hinges on an adjustment Cimato made last year to the development plans. The town found the amended plan violates Clarence’s zoning code and the Town Board in November rejected Cimato’s updated application.

Cimato argues in its legal filing, known as an Article 78 challenge, that the Town Board’s action is “arbitrary and capricious” and should be overturned.

“The town anticipates that we will successfully defend this lawsuit,” said Town Attorney Lawrence M. Meckler, who declined to discuss specifics.

Owner Fred Cimato and his attorney Ralph C. Lorigo did not respond to messages seeking comment on the filing.

Cimato, who acquired the 52-acre property in 1995, has pursued the project since the late 1980s. The town’s formal review of the proposed subdivision began a few years later.

The subdivision, first named Fox Trace East and now known as Woodland Hills, targets a rectangular piece of vacant land between Greiner Road and Sheridan Drive.

Harris Hill Road and Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church are to the west, and Meadowbrook Road and Brookfield Country Club are to the east.

Cimato initially planned to build as many as 92 single-family houses on the site.

After neighbors objected to smaller houses eyed for about 28 of the lots, Cimato backed away from that piece of the project. Neighbors over the years also have raised concerns about drainage and traffic.

The Town Board in 2004 rezoned the property from agricultural to residential.

The developer had to work around wetlands on the property and the question of how to construct a sewer connection to the property also led to long delays.

At the time the project was unveiled, homes in that section of Clarence were served by septic systems but the site was added to the town’s Sewer District No. 10 in 2013.

Cimato previously said the houses will start at $350,000 and, after receiving Town Board approval in March 2018, said it hoped to start construction on the first phase of the 77-house subdivision that fall.

Published by The Buffalo News

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