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NEW TOPS STORE PROMPTS PLENTY OF COMPLAINTS

The honeymoon period for the new East Aurora Tops supermarket at the edge of the Aurora Village Shopping Center has ended for some Knox Road residents living nearby.

East Aurora trustees got an earful Tuesday night from three West End residents who complained for nearly an hour about traffic, parking and safety concerns, in addition to loading dock noise and alleged truck route violations for Tops-controlled trucks traveling to the supermarket.

In the end, residents demanded that the Village Board be firm in not granting any future concessions to Benderson Development Co.

"Tops and Benderson got what they wanted -- a new 55,000-square-foot store on Grey Street. What, if anything, has East Aurora gotten in return?" said Arthur Giacalone, a local attorney who is an outspoken critic of the store that opened in December.

"We still have our shabby little plaza, and Benderson has the monthly rent check from Tops, and that's truly a disgrace," said Giacalone, of Knox Road, who ticked off a lengthy list of concerns at the plaza and safety issues for pedestrians.

Giacalone criticized the lack of progress by Benderson to renovate the Aurora Village Shopping Center, which it owns -- as well as no demolition progress on the old Tops store that sits vacant at the edge of the Main Street traffic circle with a "For Lease" sign in its windows.

"They really want the rest of the plaza to collapse. They don't want Jubilee and Ames there. They want bigger fish," Giacalone said of Benderson. "Profits come before the safety of this community."

Village trustees Tuesday voted 5-0 to approve proposed revisions by Benderson to modify the facade design of the plaza to better accommodate snow loads on the roof of the plaza stores. Trustees Patrick McDonnell and David DiPietro were absent.

In a Feb. 13 letter to village officials, Benderson said the earlier design would have caused more disruption to plaza tenants and also carried an additional cost of more than $400,000. The village first approved the plaza development plan two years ago.

The revisions call for a lower roof line, with towers to be about 4 feet lower than originally planned, and 2-foot-shorter parapets. The towers also will be designed to be partly open in spots to allow for wind to blow through some of the facade sections.

Plaza renovation work is expected to begin within 30 to 45 days, Mayor John Pagliaccio said. Despite initial concerns about the facade redesigns, village officials said they hope the plaza changes will be a much-needed improvement when completed.

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