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Planning Board rejects proposal for 'big box' retail development

The Ellicott Town Planning Board has unanimously rejected a plan to rezone 30 acres of land on Fairmount Avenue in West Ellicott for a "big box" retail development.

The board made its decision late Wednesday night after hearing from almost 50 people on hand for its meeting.

The recommendation, which now goes back to the Town Board, does allow the development group, headed by Robert Roller of Michigan, to downsize the project so it fits Fairmount Plaza's current zoning.

The decision was good news for residents of Elmwood Avenue, Westbury Court and Avalon Boulevard.

Avalon Boulevard residents Sharon and Terry Truver, who helped lead the opposition to the proposal, said they like the current plaza's size.

"It's been there for 50 years," Sharon Truver said. "It's functioning, it's working. Oh, you may say it's old. That may be true, but it's functioning."

The Planning Board's recommendation also stated that any zoning change would have to be approved first by the new Zoning Commission, or the current zoning board.

The board also commended Roller for his efforts to address residents' concerns about the size of the project and its potential impact. The developer only indicated that his firm, Island Capital, would "go back to the drawing board" on the project.

The Town Board will make the final decision on the developer's rezoning request.

Town Supervisor Pat Tyler said it's unlikely the Town Board will overrule the Planning Board's decision. He had been a staunch supporter of the original project, as well as the revised one.

"I'm only one of five votes," Tyler said. "I know the project, somehow some way, is going to happen somewhere in the town, we hope. Whether it happens on this site, I don't know."

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