The Orchard Park Town Board has delayed action on a permit for a new restaurant at the Quaker Crossing retail center -- despite the project's green light from the planning board.
The delay, proposed by Councilman Edward Graber Jr., should provide time to improve pedestrian safety at the shopping plaza before allowing a new business that will attract more traffic, Town Supervisor Mary Travers Murphy said.
Some board members grumbled at holding up a permit over what they saw as an unrelated issue.
"I'd like to judge this [permit] on its own merits," Councilman Mark Dietrick said before the start of the Town Board meeting last week.
Travers Murphy responded that the board should look at the bigger picture.
"I think it's a serious issue of safety over there, and we need to get it addressed," she said.
Concern about safety flared up last month after it was learned the plaza had blocked Metro buses from stopping on its internal roads. Landlord Gerald Buchheit said that the 100-acre plaza was designed for cars and that encouraging foot traffic would create a dangerous liability.
Metro buses now stop on a town-owned road that cuts through the plaza. The stop lacks a sidewalk, and riders walk across parking lots to reach stores, restaurants and movie theaters.
"We prefer to drop people off where there is a sidewalk . . . but this is not that atypical," NFTA spokesman Douglas Hartmayer said. Other stops lack sidewalks, such as on Grand Island Boulevard and on Orchard Park Road in West Seneca, he said.
Two Metro routes, the 14 Abbott Road and 14 Lackawanna, now serve the plaza with a combined total of 15 stops daily.
Target, an anchor store in the plaza, would like to see a more pedestrian-friendly solution, if one can be found that addresses the landlord's concerns.
"We would support something that would improve things for our guests and team members," said Peter Firestone, district facilities manager for the retailer in Buffalo.