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2006-01-18
Amherst, NY. Town Changes Zoning To Block Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart's first steps into Amherst, New York were not very auspicious. Town officials have begun efforts to push the project right out of town. Here's a report from residents in Amherst about this week's events: "At the Amherst Town board Jan. 17th meeting 3 resolutions brought up by different council lmembers were voted on. The outcome was this: 1. The parcel of land at 4300 Millersport Hwy was essentially down-zoned to
a 'more appropriate' zoning for rural/residential/mixed use area from 'Shopping center'. This was passed 7-0 approval by the town board. This will take a while to be reviewed by the Town attorney and a public hearing will then be necessary before it can be adopted. The Planning board can then deny approval for the Wal-Mart site plan on the grounds that it is not zoned for this development. It will then probably go before the zoning board of appeals. A resolution to put a stay (moratorium) on all development in the 100 year floodplain and floodways in Amherst pending a stormwater drainage study was put on hold. The comprehensive master plan which was previously approved by the board was never adopted. This, in part, because of possible changes which were deemed necessary when the sinking homes and stormwater drainage problems came to light. There were over 50 residents who spoke at this meeting and probably 3 times that many in seats and in the halls outside of the council chambers. The area under consideration is a 'sensitive' protected/buffer zone by the NY State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP). These zones were set up to provide sensitive historic sites with protection from development which might harm them. The entire proposed development is located in the state- delineated 'sensitive' zone. The developer would need a clearance letter from the NYSOPRHP before this Wal-Mart could be built. There are rumors that Wal-Mart does not really want this site for a supercenter and plans to pursue a site at Sheridan and Bailey Roads for a supercenter after the furor for this fight tires everyone out. They are determined to get rid of Target which has stores on Niagara Falls Blvd and Transit Rd (West and East Amherst respectively). Apparently they are having problems with the Sheridan/Bailey site because of potential traffic issues (probably from the Town traffic safety committee) since this is in a very commercial area plagued with traffic gridlock. They probably will try to offer this as a concession for giving up the Millersport site."

What you can do: Already Wal-Mart is mired in potential litigation, which means time and money to the giant retailer. If it expected to get into the ground quickly at this location, that hope is now down the drain. Wal-Mart often will select two or three sites in an area and see how their #1 pick goes. If that gets off badly, they can switch to site #2. It will be interesting to see if the developer is willing to spend their money to challenge the town's vote to down-zone the land. If Wal-Mart still followed its founder's principle not to go where one is not warmly invited, Amherst would be done with Wal-Mart by now. For an earlier story, search Newsflash by "Amherst."










 
 
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