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RESIDENTS UPSET BY PLANS FOR DELTA SONIC

The Main Street Delta Sonic between Barker and Bryant streets is popular with patrons, with more than 1,000 people streaming through the gas station and car wash each day.

But it's not popular with everyone.

Linwood Avenue residents who live behind the station say the business is noisy, congested, unattractive and unsafe. And plans proposed by Benderson Development to significantly expand the facility have had residents' alarm bells ringing.

A public hearing will be held at the MidCity Furniture building at 3 p.m. today for a final airing of neighborhood concerns.

The proposal, if approved by the Common Council on Tuesday, would dramatically change the landscape on a section of Main Street bordering a historic residential district.

"The business should reflect the character of the neighborhood, not be fast, easy drive-throughs," said resident Alice Hague. "People say they like to come into the city because of the beautiful houses, not because they can get gas at the Delta Sonic."

Benderson and Delta Sonic officials say they have worked hard to answer resident concerns. They also point to the 50 to 60 new jobs that would be created, and the possibility that the Main Street station could close because of declining profits if the expansion does not occur.

The new $3 million design would consolidate the company's training facilities and provide for a fast-food restaurant and drive-through, a market, oil and lube facility, and expanded car wash lanes and fueling pumps.

"It's important that we convey to the public that we believe this expansion will open up this entire corner and create new life and vitality to this corner," said Mike Yeomans, director of development for Benderson.

Residents maintain that the proposal does not suit downtown Main Street and will lower the value of their historic homes.

Yeomans pointed to numerous changes made by Benderson to address neighborhood and city planning concerns. A rooftop generator cooling tower would be replaced with a quieter model and installed on the ground to control noise. New car wash blowers would include silencers, and tall brick walls would be constructed to shield residents from noise.

Niagara Council Member Dominic Bonifacio said he's gotten the company to make more than a dozen changes to address resident concerns and will no longer oppose the project.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com

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