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ATTACK ON A BIG BOX

Citizens and businessmen in Amherst and Cheektowaga have shown that working together can get results. We hope their political leaders were paying attention.

In this case, Benderson Development Co. agreed to temporarily pull its plans to build a big-box store at Harlem Road and Cleveland Drive after people from both communities objected to the company's plans. Benderson will put the project on hold until the state Department of Transportation's plans for Harlem Road can be discussed with business and community members.

Residents have been working on a plan to turn the Harlem Road area into a pedestrian-focused strip that would capture the feel of an old-time village center. There's renewed hope that may happen after the two communities and Benderson avoided a battle over plans for the site.

Two weeks ago, Benderson submitted site plans in Cheektowaga to build an 11,180-square-foot retail building on the southwest corner of the lot. Problem was, the site plan bore a striking resemblance to the one the Cheektowaga Town Board approved four years ago for a Rite Aid. That project was never completed.

The latest move by Benderson set off alarms because Amherst and Cheektowaga community members didn't know about it -- and they were infuriated. Besides, the area already has three drugstores, all on corners, and six gas stations within four blocks.

Amherst and Cheektowaga community members and business owners have been working on a master plan from the Kensington Expressway to Saratoga Road and from Century Road and Kensington Avenue to Main Street. The area borders the City of Buffalo and passes through both Amherst and Cheektowaga.

The master plan for the vacant lot at Cleveland and Harlem included a retail building set closer to the street that would house a coffee shop or bakery. Benderson had wanted a large, nondescript building set back about 90 feet from Harlem and more than 20 feet from Cleveland.

Benderson deserves credit for listening to the desires of the two communities. We trust it won't make another attempt to impose this plan on an unwilling neighborhood.

Meanwhile, it's nice to see the people of two towns combine for the betterment of both communities. It ought to happen more often.

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