Board members have heated exchange over dent repair business

Dent Pro Buffalo located at 3535 Genesee Street. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Dent Pro Buffalo located at 3535 Genesee Street. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA – A showdown between Supervisor Diane Benczkowski and Councilmember James Rogowski erupted during the council’s work session Tuesday afternoon after Ms. Benczkowski was going to pull a resolution regarding Dent Pro Buffalo, LLC on Union Road.

The dent repair business is hoping to rezone the property at 3232 Genesee Street from general commercial to a motor service district allowing them to perform “push to paint,” a technique used when additional work is needed beyond conventional paintless dent removal.

A business consultant for the company said at a public hearing in October that it has installed a $5,000 ventilation system, but not a full paint booth.  The push to paint dent repair technique would use around 3 ounces of paint.

Mr. Rogowski told board members that he’s concerned about the negative impact the oversaturation of dent repair businesses will have in the neighborhood.  

Since 1979, Gary Moscato has operated a collision shop a few doors down from Dent Pro at 4094 Union Road.  He told board members at the October public hearing that Dent Pro would take business away.

“I’ve been in business there for quite a while trying to keep my head above water to keep up with the Gabe’s and the Carubba’s – not easy to do.  Now I got someone 120 feet away that wants to do the same thing that I’m doing; that would just about knock us out,” said Mr. Moscato.

The councilmember also has concerns about the environment.

“They’re illegally fixing dents and painting cars illegally right now without even a filtration system which affects people that eat at a restaurant right next door,” said Mr. Rogowski.

He says the business has been cited for the illegal work, both by the town, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“They have been cited several times,” Mr. Rogowski said. “But now they’re doing it at night when our (inspectors) aren’t working.”

Ms. Benczkowski has concerns over the proposed positive SEQR declaration; a determination that the action may result in one or more significant environmental impacts.

“It was a short form first of all that raised a red flag for a positive SEQR, and second of all, the two reasons do not sound like (suitable) reasons,” said Ms. Benczkowski.

The SEQR says the rezoning will create a material conflict with the town’s 2010 Comprehensive Plan for the Genesee Street/Union corridor.  It also says the change will cause “future impairment” to the Our Lady Help of Christian’s National Historic Landmark across the street.  Mr. Moscato’s collision business, and other’s like his in the neighborhood are exempt because they were in operation when the plan was authored.

“We’re going to have a lawsuit,” said Ms. Benczkowski.

“You’re not going to have a lawsuit on something that is not zoned correctly for the business to go into,” Mr. Rogowski countered.  “It’s not zoned correctly to have a paint shop there.”

The supervisor at first was going to pull the positive SEQR Declaration in which she co-sponsored with Mr. Rogowski.

“I’m not pulling it, I’m the sponsor, and I’m not pulling it,” said Mr. Rogowski.  “You can table it. I’m the sponsor, and I’m not pulling it.”

“I’m the second on it – you don’t have a second on it,” said Ms. Benczkowski.

Councilmember Gerald Kaminski indicated that he would be a second on the resolution and Ms. Benczkowski tabled both the SEQR resolution and a denial of rezoning resolution until the next town board meeting.