Planning Board backs rezoning for WellNow — but not Severyn

The Buffalo Planning Board Monday backed a zoning map amendment that would help a proposed new urgent care center project move forward at Elmwood Avenue and Amherst Street — but again held up Severyn Development's planned five-unit townhouse project at Jersey and 14th streets.

The board recommended approval by the Common Council of a request by Caliber Commercial Brokerage to change the zoning of 709 Amherst from residential — it holds two houses — to a mixed commercial and residential category.

That will allow Caliber to combine the property with 1597 Elmwood, where it plans to construct a 3,500-square-foot WellNow urgent care facility, if it gets additional variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals in its third attempt .

The houses, along with two commercial structures holding a bookstore and former sign shop, will be demolished if the plan moves forward.

The board approved special-use permits to allow outdoor dining at 299-301 Parkside Ave. and minor vehicle repair at 1082 Kenmore Ave., as well as a proposed new microbrewery and taproom at 249 Allen St.

However, Severyn's Symphony Row plan for five townhouses at 390 Jersey St. is still encountering resistance from board members — who felt it seemed out of place with the immediate neighborhood, even after multiple changes to address concerns.

The board tabled it once again to allow Severyn to come back with a revised design for the fourth-floor penthouses, which contain a staircase and exit to rooftop patios as well as building mechanicals. Board Vice Chair Cynthia Schwartz said the box-like structures looked like sheds on the roof.

"We're at close, but no cigar for me," she said. "I just detest the penthouse sheds … It looks to me like five outhouses stuck on top of the building."

Story topics: Buffalo Planning Board / jonathan d. epstein / Severyn Development / special-use permit / townhouses / urgent care / WellNow / zoning map amendment