AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB)
Amherst won round one in its fight with the owner of a vacant lot to take control of the former convenience store property.
The lot, a former Red Apple at the corner of Niagara Falls Boulevard and Kenmore Avenue has been vacant for 20 years, and now Amherst officials want to turn the site–plus an adjoining property–into a gateway for the town’s booming business corridor.
Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa
Last year, Supervisor Brian Kulpa and the Town of Amherst started the process of taking control of the lot through eminent domain, from property owner, United Refining Company of Warren, Pennsylvania.
“Every time I look at it I cringe and I say, that is the best the Town of Amherst has to offer at that intersection? It has been that way for a long time. Can we do better? Yes, absolutely.”
United Refining took the town to court challenge the eminent doman effort, and Friday, the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division is Rochester dismissed the challenge in a 5-0 unanimous ruling.
The town has purchased an adjacent property on Kenmore Avenue that once housed a beauty salon and funeral home, with plans to combine the two parcels to form a small “pocket park”, and a turnaround for Metro buses.
United Refining’s CEO John Catsimatidis responded to the ruling by phone, saying he disagrees with the decision, and that he plans zero new investment, and zero new business in Buffalo and Erie County, because of the area’s anit-business climate.
Catsimatidis has previously accused the town of trying to steal the property, but Amherst officials have offered to buy the vacant lot from the Pennsylvania company for what officials say is the full assessed value, more than $80,000.