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LOCAL NEWS BRIEFS - Niagara

Wal-Mart Supercenter draws plea for support

NIAGARA FALLS -- Supporters turned out Monday to ask the Planning Board to approve a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter and Sam's Club shopping complex on Military Road.

Monday's meeting followed a hearing earlier this year it which the board approved several items necessary for Benderson Development's seven-building complex to go forward.

But the board must reapprove all

those actions because an attorney for a group that opposes the shopping complex found some paperwork was missing when the development packet was sent to the county Planning Board for approval.

Citizens Against Sprawlmart, residents who all live near the expected 550,000-square-foot development site, is suing the Planning Board because it claims the board did not properly evaluate the planned complex for state environmental review. The residents believe the complex will hurt the surrounding area due to increased traffic.

The city Planning Board last week reasserted that the development will not hurt the environment in its surrounding area. The City Council still must have to reapprove site plan and rezoning as well.

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Police overtime budget to be exceeded, chief says

LOCKPORT -- Police Chief Neil B. Merritt said Monday the department will exceed this year's overtime budget by $40,000 to $60,000.

The city budget allocated $141,198 for police overtime this year. Merritt blamed the problem on a shortage of officers; the department has two vacant patrolman positions, and four other officers are on workers' compensation or light duty.

One of the injured officers, Capt. Roderick Stuart, will retire shortly, Merritt said. The city has already hired three rookie officers, who are now at the county Law Enforcement Academy, to fill the two vacancies plus the one Stuart's retirement will create.

Merritt said the money not spent on salaries because of the vacant positions will be used to make the $9,800 final balloon payment for a lease on a community policing vehicle and to replace a broken $20,000 recorder used to tape incoming telephone calls to the dispatching room.

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