Town board rejects annexation of Davison Road complex

US&J FILE PHOTOThe Switzer building on Davison Road. Cazenovia Recovery pitched a plan to convert the building, which once housed the Niagara County Department of Social Services, to a residential facility for women recovering from drug and alcohol abuse disorders. The Lockport Town Board on Wednesday unanimously rejected a proposal to let the City of Lockport annex the Davison Road complex at the behest of the property owner. 

The Lockport Town Board on Wednesday unanimously rejected a proposal to let the City of Lockport annex the Davison Road complex at the behest of the property owner.

The city-town boundary runs straight through the 17.5 acre property, which includes the 104-year-old former Niagara County infirmary and six other buildings.

A Mulvey Construction Co. subsidiary, LHC Holdings, had asked the city to takeover the entire property to “streamline the development process.” Annexation would allow a developer to go through one series of municipal and planning boards, rather than both the town and city.

But, in its resolution rejecting annexation, the town board wrote that Mulvey’s argument was “not a sufficient reason to justify annexation when weighted against other considerations, including ... reduction of the present and future tax base.”

Dozens of neighbors filled town hall for the meeting and after the vote, broke into applause.

Several speakers said they oppose a proposal by Cazenovia Recovery Systems to develop the property into a mix of low-income apartments and a residential treatment facility for women recovering from substance abuse disorders.

“I’m against it because I feel low-income housing is going to lower our property values,” said Patricia Walker, of Cambridge Drive.

Neighborhood residents overwhelmingly opposed Cazenovia’s plan at a pair of public forums last month.

Cazenvoia representatives said they sought to provide residential treatment for up to 44 women in recovery, and up to 20 of their children, as well as develop 65 apartment units in five existing structures and five new buildings. The low-income apartments would have been divided between low-income residents and those who completed treatment for substance abuse disorders. Cazenovia has not yet purchased the building or submitted any formal plans for the proposal.

Some common council members had supported the annexation, despite being against the low-income housing and treatment facility, saying it could spur development of the largest vacant property in the city.

“I hope someday we can annex the property,” said 4th Ward Alderman David Wohleben.

However, Wohleben predicted the council will follow the town’s lead and reject annexation.

Neighborhood residents, meanwhile, said they were relieved by the town’s no vote.

“We think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Jim Hagenbach. “We want to keep it residential.”

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