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Variance sought for Rite Aid site

A lawyer representing the Rite Aid drugstore proposed for Bowen and Bullis roads appealed to the Town Board on Wednesday night for a variance to let the project move ahead during the town's commercial building moratorium.

Attorney Ralph Lorigo said Rite Aid is asking to complete the process the firm started months ago, which included a traffic study and a full set of engineering plans.

The yearlong moratorium was enacted Feb. 14 to give the town time to put together new building codes.

"Rite Aid had applied for a permit months before the moratorium [and] had spent $50,000 to prepare engineering plans," Lorigo said. "We have been sent to the Planning Board and then back to the Town Board. We have done a traffic study as requested and have done substantial work at a substantial cost. We realize there is more to the process to go through but believe we should be able to continue to put our project forward."

Lorigo noted Rite Aid gave the town $5,000 for a State Environmental Quality Review, which was halted by the moratorium.

Building Inspector Joseph Colern noted $5,000 was returned to Rite Aid after the moratorium was enacted. Lorigo replied that he was unaware of that.

Lorigo noted that Rite Aid is aware of town opposition to the drugstore and resoned, "Unless we can continue, how will we be able to deal with it."

He referred to a grass-roots effort by Elma First, which gathered thousands of signatures opposing the construction of the store. The organization wants Rite Aid either to build a much smaller store or buy out local pharmacist Gerald Robbins, owner and operator of Cy's Pharmacy in the Elma Plaza.

Deputy Supervisor Dean Puelo, acting in the absence of vacationing Supervisor Michael Nolan, advised Lorigo to become familiar with what is permitted under the moratorium when he applies for the variance.

Puelo said a public hearing would be scheduled when the board meets next Wednesday.

This is the second request for a variance. General Welding & Fabricating was granted a variance and special-use permit for an addition to its plant on Maple Road on March 21.

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