Lancaster Town Board tables law that would ban new commercial residences for a year

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Lancaster Town Board tabled a resolution Monday that would have halted the development of new commercial residential projects for one year.

The proposed law would put a temporary moratorium on applications for new apartment and condominium complexes. The board decided to hold off on the proposal before their Monday night meeting.

Council member and Supervisor-elect Robert Leary spearheaded the proposal. Leary, a Republican who will take over the supervisor’s office in January, told News 4 that major commercial development creates issues for the town, including traffic and safety problems.

“For me, it’s a safety issue. It’s a health issue and also a quality of life involved here,” Leary said. “We don’t want people sitting in traffic for a half hour every day to make it to work or get home from work.”

Leary’s proposed bill states that Lancaster “has experienced significant and rapid growth,” and says a halt is necessary to “protect the public interest.”

“If a temporary halt of such uses is not imposed, there is a potential that such uses could be located in unsuitable areas within the Town or on lots without adequate dimensional regulations in place,” the bill reads.

Leary said he intends to bring the law back to the board at the beginning of the new year.

Ronald Ruffino, Lancaster’s current Supervisor, told News 4 that the proposal would be “an impediment on the rights of the developer” and that it would expose the town to potential lawsuits. Banning commercial residential development, Ruffino said, would also cut off an important source of the town’s income.

“We’re a growing town with services and needs that are increasing,” Ruffino said. “And how do you pay for these services and needs? By putting a moratorium on, you’re basically cutting our throats in a sense to a new source of revenue to come into the town.”

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Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.

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