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2000-12-08
Aurora, NY. Wal-Mart Dies in One Week

A proposed Wal-Mart supercenter for Aurora, New York had a short, unhappy life this week. On December 5th, only one week after being proposed, the supercenter was dealt what the Buffalo News called a "double-whammy." The Aurora Planning Board voted 5-0 to support a moratorium on rezonings of 2 or more acres, aimed at big box stores larger than 50,000 s.f. The Wal-Mart weighed in at 155,530 s.f. The six month moratorium on commercial projects was designed to give the town time to complete work on a comprehensive regional plan for five communities in the Aurora area. Planning Board member Alvin Fontanese told the Bella Vista Group developer: "We spent $250,000 of my, and taxpayers hard-earned money for a Master Plan. Why you'd jeopardize that is beyond my comprehension." But the developer told the newspaper the superstore was not dead. "It's like the Gore-Bush deal. It'll keep going. We'll have to come up with an idea on how to proceed for the project. If we find a majority don't like Bella Vista and don't want us, we'll gladly move out." The developer wanted to rezone 13 acres of agricultural land to business zoning. But the project is located in a floodplain and the Cazenovia Creek runs through it. Neighbors warned that the superstore would cause super-flooding of the area. "I believe this is the wrong kind of growth for Aurora," resident Amy Westbrook said. "We need smart growth that preserves Main Street. We do not need a gigantic supercenter inflicted upon us by the largest and most detested retailer in the world." In addition to voting for a moratorium, the Planning Board also voted to deny the rezoning request, noting that no development could happen on the floodplain. The town's zoning code prohibits new construction or alterations in a floodplain area. Even nearby farmers couldn't put up a chicken coop on that land, the Board said. The following day, most members of the Town Council indicated they would oppose rezoning as well. Town Supervisor Tom Cotton said "I think, without a doubt, this will probably put it to bed. I think the Planning Board pretty much eliminated the possibility of any construction on that site."

What you can do: The developer has not thrown in the towel in this case, and proceeded to criticize the Planning Board for not continuing with the state environmental quality review process. The developer said "bad flooding" would not occur (is there such a thing as 'good flooding'?) and said "People build in floodplains with certain specifications." Town Councilors reiterated the importance of the Comp Plan being written, and the barring of development in floodplains. "A lot of us feel their plan was very poor," Councilman Jeff Harris to the Buffalo News. A final vote is up to the Town Council, and could happen later this month. The developer could try to come back with plans for a Wal-Mart chicken coop. For more info, see www.buffalonews.com










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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