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Planners approve Tops gas station

The town Planning Board on Wednesday granted Tops Market a permit to construct a gas station in front of its South Transit Road store.

Construction on the station, which will have three pumps with two nozzles each and a payment kiosk, will start as soon as possible after the project receives two variances, Tops attorney Jennifer Dougherty said.

The Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to vote Oct. 28 on two area variances, which Dougherty said don't even pertain directly to the gas station.

She said the town's rules on building setbacks have changed since the Tops-Wal-Mart Plaza was built in the early 1990s and thus the new project forces variances for the long-existing Sears Hardware and Payless Shoe Source stores in the plaza.

The Planning Board granted Tops a special-use permit for the gas station, to be built in the northwest corner of the plaza parking lot, on the condition that gasoline deliveries be limited to two-hour windows late at night and early in the morning and that a detention pond on the property continue to be properly maintained.

On another topic, the board had several concerns about plans by Sparks Customs Homes for a 70-home subdivision on Longview Drive, off Lincoln Avenue a short distance east of Ernest Road.

Peter Johnston of the engineering firm William Schutt and Associates told the board that the existence of protected wetlands in the 60-acre parcel already has caused the reduction of the plan from 71 homes.

The original plan called for 31 patio homes on small lots, considered cluster homes under the town code, and 40 full-size homes on larger lots. The cluster homes, now reduced to 30, are to have a homeowners association, Johnston said.

Robert Cebulski of Wendel Duchscherer, the town engineering firm, said the plan shows six lots with detention ponds in their backyards.

"As soon as it rains, [those homeowners] are going to have a lot of water in their backyards," Cebulski said. "It is our experience that [design] is not a good idea."

Johnston griped that he had met with town staffers and was told the location of the ponds was all right. Town Attorney Daniel E. Seaman shot back, "These informal meetings are not binding on this board."

Town Planner Andrew C. Reilly said of the backyard pond plan, "It's not restricted by the law . . . but people who move into those lots end up complaining to the town."

He said that has happened in other subdivisions in Wheatfield and Hamburg.

Johnston said after the meeting, "The real issue is, what density they're going to allow for the cluster homes."
The board also wants to know what use Sparks plans to make of the 56 percent of the property that is slated to remain green space.

"Green space is not supposed to be an open field," Reilly said.

The board will return to the issue when it reconvenes at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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