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PLANNING BOARD TO RULE ON CONVENIENCE STORE PLAN

The promoters of a proposed Wilson Farms convenience store and gas station on Grand Island -- which is opposed by neighbors -- face their first test at a Planning Board meeting Monday.

The board is set to give its opinion on the proposal for a 2,845-square-foot convenience store at Ransom and Stony Point roads.

The Planning Board makes a positive or negative recommendation on the project to the Town Board, which has the final say.

Tops Markets, Wilson Farms' parent, and its developer, Parkland Enterprises, in recent months have refined the project in response to traffic, environmental and aesthetic concerns.

But neighbors of the site, which is across the street from Grand Island High School and Middle School, aren't satisfied.

"We have gotten to date over 500 signatures (on petitions) against the project," said Eileen Cobello, who lives on Tracey Lane.

The developers met with members of the Planning Board, the Town Board and the public Thursday to go over any last-minute concerns with the site plan for the store.

Planning Board Chairman Gary Roesch and other town officials raised three issues with the developers:

They want a sidewalk and culvert on Ransom Road in front of the convenience store extended to ensure the safety of pedestrians crossing at the corner.

They want to ensure that any gasoline spilled by tanker truck operators as they fill the tanks at the convenience store pumps is properly contained.

And they want Ransom Road widened to two lanes in front of the store to avoid traffic jams as drivers turning left into the store meet buses and cars going to the schools.

The developers Thursday concurred with the town on the first two points raised.

But Matthew Moscati of TRM Architects said that the traffic on Ransom is a pre-existing problem and that the cost of building a second lane shouldn't fall solely on Tops.

Traffic is a problem on Ransom Road only in the early morning and midafternoon when buses are dropping off or picking up students, the developers said.

But residents dispute a traffic study done for Tops, saying it underplays the effect of the Wilson Farms on Ransom traffic and uses outdated numbers.

G. Granson Geis, a Stony Point Road resident, urged the developers Thursday to build earthen berms and to plant more trees to make the store less obtrusive.

Tops has agreed to install faux smoked-glass windows on the Stony Point Road side of the store, to build a pitched roof and to match the wall concealing the store's dumpsters to the rest of the store.

These were all requests of Tops made at Tuesday's Architectural Review Board meeting, said Council member Richard W. Crawford Jr.

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