Council Forms Panel to Protect Fruit Belt Residents

March 18, 2014 Updated Mar 18, 2014 at 11:22 PM EDT

By John Borsa

March 18, 2014 Updated Mar 18, 2014 at 11:22 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Angela Hill has lived in Buffalo's Fruit Belt neighborhood for 20 years.

Once plagued by street gangs and drugs, the Fruit Belt is now booming with signs of progress.

New housing is being built across the street from Hill's home and construction cranes from the nearby Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus fly high in the sky.

"It's progressing. But what's that going to do for the rest of us that's here?" Hill asked.

It is a question many here are wondering about.

As new homes are built and property values increase, how will they be afford to pay higher property taxes?

"Why should my taxes go up because the neighborhood is being re-developed? That should not hurt us. I think that's unfair," she said.

Some members of Buffalo's Common Council agree. It formed a panel on Tuesday to explore ways to prevent gentrification, when the poor or lower middle class are pushed out of a neighborhood that is experiencing a building boom.

"So that we can craft something within the City of Buffalo that works. That encourages development but that doesn't price out the people in the neighborhood," said Council President Darius Pridgen.

The medical campus currently employs about 12,000 people. In two years, there will be just under 20,000, many of whom will want to live in adjacent neighborhoods like Allentown and the up-and-coming Fruit Belt.

"I fell like we should have a say, but we don't," said Hill. "Because when they start redeveloping they never came to nobody in the area and asked us how we feel about them redeveloping, how we feel about them putting a store there. They never asked us anything."

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