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Hearing set March 30 on Wal-Mart plans

The Town of Lockport Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing at 7 p.m. March 30 on plans for a Wal-Mart supercenter.

Town Planner Andrew C. Reilly said Wednesday that will be the final public hearing on the project, but two periods will be available for written comment before a final vote, which will not be taken at least until June.

The retail giant wants to demolish most of the Lockport Mall on South Transit Road and construct a 185,000-square-foot store that would combine a regular Wal-Mart with a full-size supermarket.

Only the Bon Ton store would remain from the mall. It would become a free-standing store sharing a parking lot with Wal-Mart.

The current Wal-Mart, a quarter-mile to the south, would be swapped to General Growth, the current mall owner, for reuse.

Previous hearings produced a long list of questions about the impact of the plan. Wal-Mart responded with about 1,000 pages of answers, which constitute the draft environmental impact statement.

That will be the topic of the hearing, to be held in Town Hall, 6560 Dysinger Road. Reilly said a public comment period must remain open for at least 10 days after the hearing, although it could be longer; that period hasn't been set.

After that, the Planning Board will determine what topics raised by the public are substantive enough for Wal-Mart to address in a final environmental impact statement.

Although the company will draft the statement, Reilly said, "We can make any changes we want to." Another public comment period will follow before the vote on the impact statement.

The board also has to vote on a special use permit and a site plan, and if Wal-Mart's plan doesn't fully comply with zoning regulations, the Zoning Board of Appeals might have to consider variances, Reilly said.

Final approval "could be a long, long time away," Planning Board Chairman Lester J. Robinson Jr. said.

Senior Building Inspector Eugene Nenni said Wal-Mart's plans will be available for review from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays in Town Hall and in his office on Robinson Road. The draft also will be posted on the town Web site,

On other topics, the board left a public hearing open until next month on Westcott Estates, a 74-lot residential subdivision on Raymond Road.

The board questioned the grading plan, which was submitted late, and sought fewer driveways than the six proposed along Raymond. Peter Sorgi, attorney for CL&F Development, said the company wouldn't accept combining driveways as a condition of approval for the plan.

The board accepted Niagara Hospice's plan to construct a $4 million, 18-unit residential facility behind its Sunset Drive headquarters. It acted over the objections of Beverly Cornelius, a neighbor who said Hospice promised never to build a residential facility.

She also said her land is constantly flooded by runoff from Hospice property, but town engineer Daniel Seider said a clay-lined retention pond that Hospice intends to dig should solve that problem. John Lomeo, Hospice chief executive officer, said construction of the facility could begin late next month.

Approval of the new $10 million Lockport YMCA headquarters on Snyder Drive was held up for a month pending a new set of engineering plans incorporating some minor design changes.

The board took no action on a proposed community center near the South Transit Road entrance to The Woodlands mobile home park, since no one from the park management showed up to discuss it.


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