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No welcome mat for patio homes

      Patio homes are a booming business in Western New York. They offer a single-family home lifestyle without the single-family home upkeep.

   Targeted toward older adults and empty nesters, the homes frequently sell for big bucks. They're special because they look like traditional homes but are built in private developments and carry condominium status.

   Because of that, patio homeowners get huge breaks on their property tax bill. In exchange, they pay hefty homeowner fees to maintain their yards and roadways, which are considered "common areas."

   Town boards in Amherst, Lancaster and Hamburg want tax breaks for these homes to come to and end and support legislation to keep developers from taking advantage of what they consider to be a "loophole" in the state condo law.

   Developers say these homes meet an important housing need in Western New York. Patio homeowners use fewer town services and therefore deserve to be taxed less.

   Who do you believe?

   -- Sandra Tan

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