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EAST AURORA BOARD ERRED BY DENYING WAL-MART REZONING BID, DEVELOPERS SAY LEGALITY OF PROJECT'S ENVIRONMENTAL-IMPACT STATEMENT IS QUESTIONED

The East Aurora Village Board's final environmental-impact statement does not provide a legal basis for denying a rezoning for the Commerce Green shopping plaza project, representatives of the developers maintain.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. today to act on the rezoning request for the $12 million project, which includes a Wal-Mart. A denial is considered likely.

But the environmental statement is criticized in detailed comments to the board submitted on behalf of the developer and dated last Friday.

"We urge the board to reconsider," Anthony DiFilippo III, lawyer for the developer, told the board. "It is our opinion that any action taken by the board based on the environmental statement in its current form will be without proper legal authority."

"The 'conclusions' contained in the environmental statement regarding the impact of the proposed plaza are not based on supportable facts. In most cases, no substantive evidence or analysis is offered to support these conclusions," and the statement was prepared without the necessary technical expertise, he said.

FES Associates of Rochester, consultants for the developer, say the environmental statement gives more weight to "unsubstantiated claims of project opponents" than the facts.

The environmental statement contains errors about the zoning and use of property immediately north of the project site, the consultants said. The adjacent property is not residential, and most of it is not industrial, they added.

"The statement that the size and appearance of the buildings in the proposed plaza are not in harmony with the historic and charming structures of East Aurora ignores the fact that the existing buildings in the project site vicinity are commercial in appearance and modern and that any industrial development of the site also will not be in harmony with an historic and charming look," the letter added.

Other comments on behalf of the developers, National Realty and Development Corp. of Purchase, criticized the environmental statement's conclusions about the project's effect on jobs, traffic, and water quality.

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