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OK expected Wednesday for Wal-Mart

Approval of plans for a Wal-Mart Supercenter on Southwestern Boulevard is expected at Wednesday's Hamburg Planning Board meeting, but whether the matter will end up in court remains to be seen.

"Barring any unforeseen happenings, I expect it to be approved," said Gerard Koenig, Planning Board chairman.

The approval of a special use permit, subdivision and site plan will come with three pages of conditions -- including no gasoline pumps -- but they have already been agreed to by Wal-Mart and Benderson Development Co., Koenig said.

A group of area residents opposed to the plan has threatened to go to court to try to stop it, and that remains a "definite possibility," David J. Seeger, attorney for Hamburg First, said Friday.

He said the project will total 500,000 square feet of new construction, including the 205,000-square-foot Wal-Mart, and its size demands a detailed environmental study.

But the Planning Board in September issued a "negative declaration," meaning the developers have addressed all issues concerning such things as traffic, drainage and sewers.

A traffic study done by Wal-Mart was approved by county and state agencies, and the town hired two additional traffic experts who agreed traffic will be manageable, Koenig said.

"They don't have a leg to stand on," he said of those who would seek to block the project because of traffic concerns.

The supercenter is planned on the site of Brierwood Square plaza, which has been virtually empty for years. The current Wal-Mart at the "Seven Corners" would close.

Also, the Town Board supports the project and steered Wal-Mart toward the Brierwood site.

Seeger, who previously warned the Town Board the matter could end up in a costly court battle, said the Town Board can't "wiggle out of its responsibility" by saying it is a Planning Board decision.

He said the "combined effect" of all the projects planned along Southwestern Boulevard, including a possible Lowe's store, must be considered.

But Councilman D. Mark Cavalcoli, liaison to the Planning Board, said the fact remains it is a Planning Board decision and projects such as Lowe's are not far enough along to even be "on deck" for Town Board review. He said he supports the project "because we are looking for economic growth and jobs. That plaza has been derelict for 25 years."


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