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A 45-minute closed-door session before Monday night's Alden Town Board meeting that included Supervisor Richard Savage, Village Mayor Michael Retzlaff, Village Attorney Chris Trapp and three representatives from Tops Markets angered councilmen and residents who wanted to air concerns about the proposed Tops plaza.

"We came for an open meeting," one resident said. "When you walked out, the open meeting ended."

Savage apologized, saying he assumed it would be open.

"You know me well enough to know that I don't like doing business in the dark," he said. "The important thing is that differences were ironed out."

He said discussion centered on distribution of sewer and water taxes and police service to the plaza since two-thirds of it will be located in the village and one-third in the town.

Councilman Robert Smith expressed concern about the effect on small business in the village with Tops moving farther away and beyond walking distance for village residents.

Savage said he had been assured by Tops real-estate representative Patrick Broderick that Tops is committed to finding a new tenant for the building it will vacate in the village, with eight years left on its lease.

He also said that the village is considering extending the sidewalks to the new plaza.

"The bottom line is that they're going to protect their interests by finding a store to service the area -- not a competitor to take their business. I truly believe it is not going to sit there empty," he said.

Savage said Tops estimates $21 million in sales its first year in the new store. He said the company will be paying $70,000 to $80,000 a year in taxes. "This is a win-win situation for both the town and the
village," he said.

A hearing on the preliminary 1997 budget drew no comment.

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