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Passions run strong during Tim Hortons debate in Cheektowaga

Plans for a controversial Tim Hortons coffee shop in Cheektowaga were tabled Monday night by the Town Board, which still got an earful from both sides in the debate.

Carol Robichaud told the board she and her neighbors fear a Tim Hortons built at the current site of the Captain’s Cove seafood restaurant on Dick Road would bring more rush-hour traffic into their already congested neighborhood.

“It’s the traffic that is the issue,” said Robichaud, a Crandon Boulevard resident. “We can’t get out.”

She also said there have been increased incidents of “road rage” and accidents in the area.

“People are cutting down very harshly the side streets to try to get onto Genesee (Street) to beat that traffic,” she said.

But the franchisees’ attorney, Ralph C. Lorigo, said a traffic study by SRF & Associates concluded the coffee shop would not have an adverse impact and any additional traffic from the shop would be “minuscule.”

Fredy and Judy Stamm, under the name Silvertip Ventures LLC, have proposed demolishing the single-story frame restaurant and two sheds and constructing a 1,766-square-foot Tim Hortons with a drive-through window.

The restaurant would also create 40 jobs, create additional tax revenue for the town and improve the site with substantial landscaping, Lorigo added. The project meets zoning and master plan requirements, he said.

“All of these things are a plus,” he said. “All of these things meet the requirements that your board needs for the project to be approved by the board.”

The Town Board voted 4-2 on July 5 to defeat a special-use permit and variances for the project after residents raised concerns about traffic. But that vote had to be rescinded last week because of a procedural error.

The board on Monday tabled resolutions on the project’s environmental impact and its site plan until a new public hearing can be held.

Deputy Supervisor Tim Meyers said board members have learned since July 5 that they cannot deny a permit unless they have a valid legal reason.

“For anything to be denied, there has to be a legal reason to back it up and public opposition is not,” he said.

Councilman James P. Rogowski said he has reached out to the state Department of Transportation to ask for the timing of traffic lights on Dick Road, especially at Genesee and the entrance to the Kensington Expressway, to be synchronized to improve traffic flow.

Supervisor Diane Benczkowski, who previously voted against the project, said the town may conduct its own traffic study.

“We want to help the residents,” she said. “They’ve come out very strongly against this project. I feel the governmental process should be able to listen to our constituents and vote according to what they want. To be told I can’t, that bothers me.”

Also Monday, the board approved plans for Calspan to build a vehicle crash test facility at 4455 Genesee St. Calspan currently conducts crash tests outdoors and moving them indoors will limit noise to the surrounding neighborhood, Rogowski said.

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com

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