The Buffalo News editorial staff recently expressed support for Gerry Buchheit’s efforts to have his 20-acre Outer Harbor parcel designated a “Planned Unit Development” [PUD]zoning district by Buffalo’s Common Council. Apparently, no one at One News Plaza took time to educate themselves on the purpose and criteria for creating a PUD district. In fact, it seems as if the opinion writers at our region’s largest newspaper (despite the importance of their role) are caught in a silo where they don’t bother to go beyond the myopic words of the paper’s business reporters when reaching a position on important development matters.
My effort to share a different perspective with BN’s readership (and, the editorial staff) – by way of a letter-to-the-editor – appears not to have been deemed worthy of print. [Although the Sunday Buffalo News did find room for a letter from an individual who refers to opponents of the 20-story Queen City Landing tower as “narrow-minded, blind and ‘my way or no way’ fanatics,” as well as “hypocrites.”]
So, I’m sharing my letter-to-the-editor with the readers of this blog:
January 23, 2019
Outer Harbor “PUD” as ludicrous as “blighted” Gates Circle
Migratory birds are disoriented by the bright lights of a stand-alone tower, especially in inclement weather. Perhaps that’s what happened to the Buffalo News editorial staff when Queen City Landing’s proposed 20-story Outer Harbor project found itself in the midst of a seiche of opposition at a recent hearing.
It was last November when a Buffalo News editorial perceived the illogic in designating a portion of Gates Circle, one of Buffalo’s finest neighborhoods. “blighted.” It viewed with 20-20 vision the problem of a city “pushing legal boundaries” to make huge tax breaks available to a financially-strapped developer. And, it called City Hall’s maneuver a “sham” – noting that “words matter,” and praising a court ruling, which had declared the designation as contrary to the law’s intent, “a victory for common sense.”
Three months later, a News editorial appears blind to a similar display of City Hall’s arrogance and willingness to distort the law to help out a developer, Queen City Landing’s proposed “Planned Unit Development” adjacent to Lake Erie’s Small Boat Harbor.
Prior uses of the PUD zoning device in Buffalo involve multiple buildings, on multiple parcels, with a variety of identified uses and architectural styling. They represented, at least arguably, “planned” and “unified” development, as required by Buffalo’s Green Code.
In contrast, Mr. Buchheit is masquerading one mixed-use tower standing on the front 8 acres of a 20-acre parcel, and zero plans for the rear 12 acres, as a PUD. This illogical proposal was not born of creativity and innovation, the objective of a Planned Unit Development, but of Buchheit’s desperate need to circumvent the Green Code’s six-story, 90-foot height limits for his Fuhrmann Blvd. property.
As with Gates Circle, words matter, and common sense and the law’s intent must prevail.
With All Due Respect,