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Walmart project moving ahead

A court-ordered review of a revised storm-water management plan for a proposed Walmart Supercenter seemed to breeze through analysis by the city's Planning Commission on Tuesday night, though the project may soon face another legal challenge.

While no formal approval was given, the plans were forwarded to the Niagara County Planning Board for review, paving the way for final city approval next month.

However, an attorney for the group that filed the previous lawsuit to stop the project said his clients are considering further legal action. "I think we're on a collision course again," David J. Seeger, attorney for anti-Walmart group North Tonawanda First and independent grocer Frank S. Budwey, said after the meeting.

The group still has concerns about water quality issues it feels are not adequately addressed in the storm-water plan, Seeger said.

A final decision on further action will depend on the action the commission ultimately takes, he said.

The proposed Walmart is planned for the site of the former Melody Fair and Bluebird Bus garage near Niagara Falls Boulevard and Erie Avenue.

State Supreme Court Justice Ralph A. Boniello III ordered the additional review by the city in June. At the same time, Boniello dismissed 10 of the 11 complaints contained in a lawsuit filed against the project.

City Engineer Dale W. Marshall reiterated his support for the storm-water plan in a discussion with the commission Tuesday.

"We take our cues from the city engineer," Commission Chairman Gary Przewozny said afterward. "As long as he's happy with it, I think the board is happy with it."

The main change to the storm-water plan involves shrinking the size of the outfall line from the site to the city's stormsewer system to slow down the flow from the site into the system, Przewozny said.

The installation of catch basins is also planned between berms and nearby homes in order to keep additional runoff from moving toward residential property, an engineer for FRA Engineering, a firm hired by Walmart, told the commission. Once the commission formally approves the storm-water plan, it must also approve a final site plan for the project.

After the commission finished its discussion regarding Walmart, Mayor Lawrence V. Soos offered his thanks to the members for their review. Soos also turned his attention to opponents to the project who were in attendance, asking them to "drop any more frivolous lawsuits."

The commission is tentatively scheduled to hold its next meeting Oct. 5.


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