Fern Fouls Up Development

June 10, 2011 Updated Jun 10, 2011 at 9:13 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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June 10, 2011 Updated Jun 10, 2011 at 9:13 AM EDT

HAMBURG, NY ( WKBW ) Some local developers want to turn a piece of land into a subdivision called "Whispering Pines," but those plans are on hold because the location is where a rare fern grows.

At the Erie County Botanical Gardens, they have ferns from all over the world, but they don't have the "Blunt Lobe Grape Fern."

Erin Grajek, Director of Marketing at the Botanical Gardens told Multi-Media Journalist Adam Francis, "We don't have that specific ( fern ), but we've done some research on it, and we've found out it is native to our area, and it is an evergreen."

The small fern is also rare and endangered.

The last time it was seen in this area was September 19, 1931..and that was off Brompton Drive in Hamburg. That is the location where developers Nussbaumer and Clarke want to build a new subdivision.

However the Department of Conservation is saying, "not so fast!"

The DEC is requiring the developers to hire a biologist to survey the land to determine if the Blunt Lobe Grape Fern is, or could be, growing here - before they get preliminary approval.

Drew Reilly, the planning consultant for the town, sees several situations like this a year, but never involving a plant that hasn't been spotted in 80 years.

Nussbaumer and Clarke have hired a biologist to survey the land, and are awaiting results.

The DEC says that if the elusive Grape Fern is growing there, they will work with the project sponsor to avoid, or minimize clipping the fern.