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In spite of overwhelming public opposition, Rite Aid Corp., through its local developer, has persisted in its attempts to enlarge its Elmwood-Bryant store in the Elmwood Business District. This special zoning district, in addition to other criteria, restricts new businesses to no larger than 2,500 square feet per floor.

The latest of three proposals was to replace the existing store with one that is 11,000 square feet. This would have required demolishing an adjacent brick mansion, moving a beautiful two-story home and paving an empty lot to make a 41-car parking lot.

Four public hearings were held, and all three of these proposals were rejected by the Buffalo Common Council and the Zoning Board of Appeals. Those of us in the neighborhood would like to believe the matter is finished. But is it? One zoning board official said he expects the ruling will be challenged in court.

What defense does a neighborhood have against a corporation determined to make it a battleground simply to gain a competitive edge over other nearby stores? Within less than half a mile of this store there are three other drugstores -- a Rite Aid, a Walgreen's and an Eckerd's.

It is likely that one of these stores will be unable to remain viable and will close. In the Buffalo area, Rite Aid has left a chain of empty stores -- hardly architectural gems -- to build larger replacements nearby. What can a neighborhood do to stop this endless intrusive conduct? Perhaps we should start shopping at the competition.

Sherwin Greenberg

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