ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Orchard Park Town Board is considering a slew of zoning changes for the area around the new Bills Stadium. One councilmember is proposing changing the rules for people who let Bills fans park at their homes on gameday. Homeowners are throwing the challenge flag, saying restrictions are unnecessary.
If you’ve driven down Big Tree or Abbott Roads in Orchard Park on a Bills gameday, you’ll see several homes and residents flagging drivers to park in their front lawns. The town is considering several proposals by local leaders, one of them could limit the lots you park in.
“We are opposed to any type of permit system or legislation that will hurt the people of this community,” Mark Lester, owner of Yellow Brick Parking, said.
The Bills season brings big bucks to residents like Lester, who turns his front lawn and two other vacant lots he owns into parking areas for fans and event goers at Highmark Stadium. He says his family has owned his home on Big Tree Road for three generations.
Councilman Conor Flynn is proposing several changes to the town code, including adding a permit process for residential parking lots near the stadium.
“On those days they are parking cars, they are operating as a business and should be subject to the same rules and regulations that the private lots are,” Councilman Flynn said.
Commercial lots are already required to have a permit, per Flynn. He says private lots operated at area homes are not required to have permits right now, but should be subject to the same requirements.
“When police or emergency services have tried to get in to address a medical event, they haven’t been able to get in quick enough because the cars have been parked too close together. It’s a matter of public safety,” Flynn added.
The proposal is below:
Lester says he shouldn’t be subject to additional regulations to park cars on his property.
“When the town board comes and acts on whatever they are trying to propose, that they come to the people. I can tell you right now nobody wants to be under additional restrictions,” Lester said. “To eliminate those rights and land uses through some kind of subjective system is unfair and should not be tolerated.”
Councilman Flynn says the proposal is in its initial stages and it may limit how many cars can fit in these private lots. Homeowners fear it may cause a parking predicament.
“After I fill all my lots in advance, they pass something where I have to turn people away and refund their money, they are not going to be happy,” Lester said.
These proposals are purely ideas according to Councilmember Conor Flynn and his proposal isn’t the only one before the board. According to Flynn, other members of the town board have zoning proposals about what the town should do about the area surrounding the stadium. Once the board decides a scope, they can move forward with changing the codes. He says the board wants to work with the community to reimagine this section of Orchard Park.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.