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Wal-Mart drops Millersport plans

The plan for a Wal-Mart on Millersport Highway in Amherst appears to be dead, but that doesn't mean the developers' lawsuit against the town is.

Jeffrey D. Palumbo, the developers' attorney, said Friday he has received verbal notice from Wal-Mart that it no longer is pursuing development at the intersection of Smith and New roads and Millersport.

"We haven't received official notification; we have received verbal notification," said Palumbo. "But things can change."

Palumbo represents James Collins and Anthony Cimato, who have filed notice that they plan to sue Amherst because its rezoning of the property blocked the development. Palumbo said he expects to file the suit next week.

"At this point in time, part of the damages are that (Wal-Mart) is not" developing the site, Palumbo said.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said the company is no longer considering the Millersport Highway site.

"That one is not in play anymore," said Philip Serghini, Wal-Mart's senior manager for public affairs.

The Amherst Town Board rezoned the land from "shopping center" to a new zoning classification, "traditional neighborhood district," in September.

Betty Croglio of East Amherst, one of the people who collected signatures on petitions opposing development on the site, said she was pleased that there were no plans for large-scale development on the site.

"I'm not opposed to Wal-Mart, and we never were," she said. "Our issues were and still are strictly environmental and had nothing to do with keeping Wal-Mart out. We're glad a building of that size is not going in there."
Croglio said the wetlands in the area are already "stressed," and a big-box store would cause more problems.

"There are quite a lot of reasons why they shouldn't build it in this area," she said.

Wal-Mart has filed plans to build a 192,000-square-foot supercenter in a shopping plaza off Sheridan Drive at North Bailey Avenue in Amherst.

It would replace a smaller Wal-Mart on Niagara Falls Boulevard north of the Youngmann Highway. The new store's site was formerly anchored by an Ames department store.

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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