After 6 years, expensive Buffalo fence is finally back on track

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Construction of a massive wrought iron fence in a North Buffalo neighborhood is back on track, and the finish line seems to be in sight.

The project at Nottingham Terrace and Lincoln Parkway, known as the Miller Mansion, started nearly six years ago, but a year after construction started, neighborhood opposition and missteps by city zoning officials forced the project to be shut down.

Neighbors said the big black Gothic style fence was just too big and gaudy–one of the gates was nearly 20 feet high. They hired an attorney, challenged the Buffalo Zoning Board, which had approved the fence, and that led to the board reversing its decision.

Attorney Terry Connors, who represented the neighbors said, zoning officials determined the fence was too high, and so were the gates, in violation of city ordinances.

“There’s restrictions that are very clearly articulated in that zoning ordinance and they were found to be in violation of those as well.”

The owners of the Miller Mansion, Albert and Donna Haid had to go back to the drawing board, and to comply with the zoning laws, they agreed to dig a two-foot deep swale, or ditch, along the perimeter of the property which would lower the 8-foot fence enough to satisfy the ordinance.

Rather than going to all the trouble of digging a swale, why not just cut two feet off the bottom of the fence?

The Haids’ attorney Rafael Gomez said the fence was designed by a renowned wrought iron designer, and cutting off any part of the fence would ruin the effect.

“Just the way the fence itself was designed, it was going to be too difficult to do it. So from an economic standpoint, as we reviewed a number of the options–the ones that we thought looked best–building the swale ended up being the one that they selected.”

But digging the swale had its own challenges, including drainage issues. Also, a 20-foot gate for the car entrance had to be deleted, and in 2017, three years into construction, an agreement was reached.

Gomez said it was a matter of satisfying the neighbors’ concerns, “and ultimately it was nice to see the ‘City of Good Neighbors’ becoming good neighbors and we were able to reach a resolution.”

A few weeks ago, construction of the re-designed fence resumed, and now it seems to be nearing the finish line.

“It has been a long time, but it is good to see that it is finally occurring,” said Connors, “and that the fence built the proper way, in accordance with the regulations, in accordance with the local ordinance, is going to be done soon.”

Gomez added, the fence is just the first stage of an overall restoration project for the Miller Mansion– roof repairs, new eaves, and other work is to follow.

Unfortunately, the mansion’s co-owner Albert Haid won’t get to see his plans reach fruition. He passed away last spring.

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