Court gives west side houses temporary reprieve from demolition

Jun 19, 2012

Wrecking crews will not be going to work near the Peace Bridge tomorrow.  State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Glownia issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday barring the demolition of seven homes along Busti Avenue. 

The order will remain in place until the court receives and reviews additional court papers and conducts an oral argument on the petitioner's request for a preliminary injunction. Late last week, Buffalo Re-use began tearing out items from the homes for preparation of the demolition.

Campaign for Greater Buffalo attorney Richard Lippes the lawsuit is not about the Bridge, but rather the plaza for green space and construction of a new duty free store.

"We do not believe that the demolition of these homes has anything to do with movements of traffic or construction of a new bridge, but merely expanding the plaza so that this new duty-free store can be built," Lippes said.

Lippes says three of the homes are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and the Wilkerson Home is a city landmark. He asserts the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process has been overlooked or disregarded.     

"Our claim in our lawsuit is that the bridge authority has not fulfilled the various responsibilities that they have under state and local laws concerning the protection of the environment and these historic resources and the neighborhood," Lippes said.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for July 6. All parties involved in the lawsuit have agreed to an expedited schedule.

 The Peace Bridge expansion project has also become a political hot potato between Congressman Brian Higgins and Mayor Byron Brown. Higgins says no more time should be wasted, while the Mayor says the bridge authority needs to reveal the plan to citizens.