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One more look at suburban farmland

Efforts to save farmland and open space across Erie County were detailed in a story that ran Tuesday in The Buffalo News.

But for a better picture of the development pressure facing some of these suburban towns here is a map showing protected farmland and open space, in green, against the backdrop of single-family parcels, in tan.

The map was created by Enterprise Editor Patrick Lakamp.

Farmland and single-family homes in Amherst and Clarence

Smart Growth forum set for tonight in Williamsville

The formula for building better suburbs isn’t a mystery.

Just look at East Aurora or the Village of Hamburg or the Village of Williamsville – concentrated suburban pockets offering stores, shops and restaurants within walking distance from the surrounding neighborhoods.

The question is, how can the suburbs do more of this?

That’s the focus of tonight’s forum in Williamsville on using villages as a model for growing suburbs the smart way.

One final look at the 2013 elections

We'll close the book on the 2013 elections in Amherst now that the Erie County Board of Elections signed off on the final vote tallies this week.

Of course, there were no surprises after Board of Elections recanvassed the close four-way race for Town Board, which ended up just as it did on election night.

But for all you political junkies, here are the official results:

Walter looking to feast on "Dirty Dogs"

Everyone’s getting into the spirit of Friday’s Class A state championship game between Williamsville North and Queensbury at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

Assemblyman Ray Walter, R-Williamsville, has made a friendly wager with his state counterpart, Dan Stec, R-Queensbury:

If Queensbury wins, Walter owes Stec a bucket of Crown Royal BBQ wings from Amherst Pizza and Ale House.

If Williamsville North wins, Stec has to fork over a meal of hot dogs – or “Dirty Dogs” – from New Way Lunch in Queensbury.

“I’m really looking forward to this Friday’s game at the Carrier Dome for a couple of reasons,” Walter said, “seeing our Williamsville North Spartans win their first state championship and seeing what my colleague Assemblyman Dan Stec’s district has to offer.”

-- Jay Rey

Public hearing date called into question

Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart and its neighbors continue to clash.

The latest issue involves Thanksgiving.

Hyatt project continues, as residents wait decision on appeal

Construction on the controversial Hyatt Place Hotel on Main Street is moving forward again, despite an upcoming court decision that could change the outcome of this ongoing saga over a six-story hotel.

Crazy scenarios in Amherst elections

As today's story about suburban elections notes, there's a lot that could happen in Amherst in November. 

Here are some possible -- if unlikely -- scenarios:

-- A 4-1 Republican majority with a Republican supervisor

-- A 4-1 Republican majority with a Democratic supervisor

-- A 4-1 Democratic majority

-- A 3-2 Democratic majority on a board with a Republican supervisor

-- A board of two Democrats and two Republicans split over the appointment of a fifth member

Let us explain: The board would consist of a 4-1 majority if incumbent Republican Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein and incumbent GOP Council Member Steven D. Sanders and GOP challenger Howard D. Cadmus are victorious.

But if Democratic Council Member and supervisor challenger Mark A. Manna and Democratic Town Board challengers Ramona D. Popowich and Patricia S. Dunne all claim victories, a Democratic board majority could vote to appoint another Democrat to the Town Board seat vacated by Manna – creating a 4-1 Democratic majority.

Meanwhile, if Manna loses the supervisor’s race, he would still retain his Town Board seat. So if Manna loses and Weinstein and the two Democratic board challengers win – an unlikely scenario – Weinstein would retain the supervisor’s post but face a 3-2 Democratic majority.

Another puzzling scenario would arise if Manna and one other Democratic Town Board member were victorious. That would leave two Democrats – as well as Republican Deputy Supervisor Guy R. Marlette and the victorious Republican board member – to fight over who would fill Manna’s vacated Town Board seat.

Manna, meanwhile, could win the supervisor’s race and be left to deal with a 4-1 Republican majority if the GOP picks up both Town Board seats and appoints a Republican to Manna’s vacated seat.

We'll wait to see what really happens -- but it's fun to consider on a Sunday morning in September. 

Amherst Town Board meets Monday

Check out today's story about the race for Amherst Town Justice, which is heating up.

Then take a look at Monday's meeting agenda of the Town Board. Up for discussion are elected officials' salaries, settlement money from the State Insurance Fund and noise restrictions. 

The board will meet for a 3 p.m. work session and 7 p.m. regular meeting at the Amherst Municipal Building, 5583 Main St.

Yes, they have historic buildings out here

Williamsville is bullish on its historic buildings -- so much so that it will add a few dozen more to its list. 

Stop down to Village Hall, 5565 Main Street, at 6 p.m. if you want to get a sneak peak at which buildings those are.

The Clinton Brown architectural firm will recommend to village officials about 30 buildings that could be nominated for state or national historic designations. Those will join 15 buildings in the village that already have been marked to save.

Village officials say it's all part of an effort to "preserve the historic character of Main Street" as they spruce the area up.

We will post the full report on the historic properties as soon as we get it.

Strong reactions to new Amherst hotel


People either love it or despise it. 

We're talking about the new Wyndham Garden hotel that opened yesterday in Amherst. 

Reactions on The News' Facebook page to Samantha Maziarz Christmann's story in today's paper were strong and polarized, like these:

"Ruins the whole look of entering the Village," remarked reader Doris Jones. 

Sage Kadow called the project "a total monstrosity."

Others, though, say the hotel -- now that is has been built -- is actually pretty nice.

"It's really a beautiful building inside....nice apartments with great finishes!" said Sandy Nelson.

Joel Altre-Kerber said the project grew on him to the point where he now likes it.

"Building to the sidewalk, not set back, makes it a much more accessible and integrated into the environment," Altre-Kerber said. "The Hampton Inn up the street was a missed opportunity after knocking down The Williamsville Inn."

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