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OFFICIALS MORE UPBEAT THAN RESIDENTS ON NEW WAL-MART PLAN

Town officials said Wal-Mart's revised plan for a supercenter at the Lockport Mall site, released Monday, responds to many of the concerns the Planning Board and residents raised last year.

But one neighbor who opposes the plan said it's still not good enough.

The proposed 24-hour supercenter, which combines a regular Wal-Mart with a full-size supermarket, is about 18,000 square feet smaller than the version submitted last year. That plan was withdrawn in September after the board made its dissatisfaction clear.

The 185,642-square-foot store would be built on the site of the mall on South Transit Road at Shimer Drive. The site is about one-quarter mile north of the existing 9-year-old Wal-Mart, which would be traded to the mall owners, General Growth Properties, for redevelopment.

The only surviving part of the mall would be the 81,510-square-foot Bon-Ton store, which would stand alone to the northwest of the new Wal-Mart and share a 1,452-space parking lot.

The supercenter's back wall would be 100 feet from a 10-foot wall that separates the mall property from the back yards of residents on Badger Drive. Last year's plan had only a 50-foot setback.

The 10-foot wall would be extended around to the northern border of the 17.8 acres Wal-Mart is to acquire, thus protecting homes on Dorchester Road, too.

A drainage feature would be a long, narrow "detention pond," about 40 feet wide, between the back of the store and the wall.

Earthen berms would be built along Shimer Drive, and the side entrance to the property would remain where it is now, at the signal at Shimer and Snyder drives. Last year's plan called for moving that driveway away from the signal.

Company officials could not be reached to comment Monday, but Town Supervisor John B. Austin said there was clearly an effort made to respond to public concerns. "I thought it was a much better plan than they had before," he said.

He and Planning Board Chairman Lester G. Robinson Jr. were especially pleased that the proposal no longer includes gasoline pumps at the southwest corner of the property, just behind M&T Bank.

Austin said, "They'll still need some variances, but not big ones. They're short a little green space, and they're short a few parking spaces."

Margaret Magno, of Lockport Citizens for Smart Growth, saw it differently. She said Wal-Mart still isn't complying with the rules of the commercial overlay zoning district on South Transit Road.

She insisted the store should be built closer to South Transit Road, which would create a larger rear setback. Wal- Mart officials last year said they don't want parking behind the store.

"If they would just go by the zoning, they'd be OK. I guess I'm going to have to make them do that," Magno said. "If they'd move the store forward so they'd have parking on the sides and more green space in back, less noise, I think the neighbors would be less freaked by it."

Austin said, "One of the things they have to do is mute the activity in the back, the lighting, the noise, so the semis don't run all night."

Robinson said the Planning Board would take its first look at the proposal at its work session next Tuesday and begin the formal review process at its regular session at 7:30 p.m. April 20.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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