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Today in City Hall: Budget vote

By Jill Terreri

Mayor Byron Brown's proposed $482.5 million spending plan is up for a vote by the Common Council during a special meeting at 3 p.m. today in Council Chambers. 

Council leadership and the administration are working out the details this morning, and the amendments have not been printed up, I'm told. 

The Council's budget hearings involved questions to department heads related to many matters outside of what was contained in the budget, so it's unclear what Council members will do to change the proposal. 

Fillmore Council Member David Franczyk had suggested the Council add money for crime surveillance cameras, enough for one in each Council district. Franczyk is in the minority so it's not a sure thing that will happen, but the Buffalo Police Department has about 600 requests for the cameras, and the clerk's office rountinely receives requests for cameras from block clubs.

The Council is not expected to change much in the budget - many of the members praised the document since it was released May 1. They will also likely not give Brown a headache with their changes, as seven of the nine Council members have appeared by Brown's side during his re-election campaign: President Rich Fontana, Majority Leader Demone Smith, President Pro Tempore Bonnie Russell and Council Members Darius Pridgen, David Rivera, Joe Golombek and Chris Scanlon.  

In other activity today, the Planning Board met this morning and heard an intense debate about a proposed 90-foot cell phone tower on the property of St. Martin de Porres church on Northampton Street. 

On one side was lawyer Adam Walters, representing T-Mobile, and on the other was lawyer Adam Perry, representing the church's neighbor, Community Action Organization of Erie County. 

T-Mobile had a cell tower on the former Deconness hospital site nearby, before it was demolished. It now rents a temporary space owned by CAO and thought it could locate a permanent location on CAO property, but a suitable site couldn't be found, Walters said. 

Walters tried to paint CAO as upset that they lost the tower lease to the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, but CAO said they objected to the proposed location for other reasons, that it is too close to the sidewalk and makes the land around it undevelopable.

Perry said even though he represents CAO, he brought T-Mobile to the church in order to find a suitable site on that property, but that the proposed location they came up with is not appropriate for CAO's planned developments in the area. 

CAO and Kaleida have a development agreement for the former Deaconess site, and L. Nathan Hare, executive director of CAO, said the organization will soon control the nine-acre site and could work with T-Mobile to locate it there. 

Linden Park resident George Stokes told the board that the neighborhood is improving and that he didn't want the tower - and its 50 foot-by 50 foot base - so close to the street, but he didn't mind if it was set farther back. 

The matter was tabled at the request of Ellicott Council Member Darius Pridgen, who urged the sides to work out their differences.  

The Council will also have a vote on the tower, as special permission is needed to locate one in a residential district. 

The Planning Board approved several projects, including architect Steve Carmina's makeover of a building at 9 Genesee St., that he and his wife, Brenda, are planning to move into. He is planning to return the building to what it looked like in 1930, and is applying for historic tax credits. The first floor would be used by a commercial tenant - as yet unknown - and the residence would be on the second and third floors.  

A new music club planned by Savarino Companies at 49 Illinois St. was approved, though Marisa Proietta-Milbrand, co-owner of the nearby Cobblestone Bar objected, saying that Savarino tenants have complained about noise and that in the past complainants have reported her bar to the police department and the state liquor authority. 

"There are many people in the Cobblestone district who are opposed to this project," said Proietta-Milbrand, who has been there for 14 years. 

Because of complaints about her business, she is confused by Savarino's entry into the entertainment business, she said. She also complained about rodents in the area. 

Savarino's director of development, Kevin Hays, explained that a Dumpster for the club will be located at a property that Savarino owns behind the club, and that the renovation of 49 Illinois will help to curb the rodent problem. He said the neighbors Savarino has spoken with - mostly Savarino tenants - support the project.  

Other approvals include an outdoor patio with four tables for Manakeesh and More at 1146 Hertel Ave., and a new restaurant in Allentown. Khalid Ammur plans to open Luna Luci, a French and Italian restaurant at the old French Quarter at 220 Allen St., on July 1. A new sign at the Ambassador apartment building at 175 North St. was also approved.   

The board waited on approving an additional level on a planned parking structure at Catholic Health System's new headquarters on Genesee Street near Route 33, and said a new public hearing must be held first. 

Catholic Health is proposing adding a new level to the parking ramp to make room for 220 additional cars. 


Byron Brown | city spending | Common Council
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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |