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Walmart report decision likely today

Orchard Park Town Board members tonight are expected to formally accept or reject an environmental report submitted last month by Walmart, which is seeking to build a 135,000-square-foot store off Milestrip Road across from Quaker Crossing.

While Walmart launched a radio and direct mailing campaign supporting its cause in Orchard Park, board members have rejected similar environmental reports as incomplete three times.

The most recent rejection came last March, when the board cited more than 20 reasons for deeming the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) "inadequate and incomplete," including the failure to address some traffic issues.

The board had planned to conduct a work session on the submission Tuesday night but canceled it last week in the wake of the pro-Walmart campaign and efforts to review the 12-inch-high report.

"Walmart handed us this DEIS in the middle of the holidays," Supervisor Janis Colarusso said. "We were really pushed to a deadline with the time frame they gave us."

Under state law, the town has 30 days, which expire Saturday, to accept or reject the report.

Colarusso said postcards announcing Tuesday's meeting had been sent, apparently by Walmart or its supporters, to residents. Some that could not be forwarded were delivered to Town Hall by the post office, but she said the town did not send out the postcards.

The Tuesday meeting was to have been a work session, and the board does not accept public comments at work sessions. Court was in session in the board room Tuesday night, and the board had planned to move the meeting from the supervisor's conference room to the basement meeting room in the Municipal Center.

"I was afraid there would be too many people here," Colarusso said.

But the meeting was canceled instead and an announcement of the cancellation was placed on the Municipal Center door. The extra day gives town officials more time to develop a response to the report and to announce the board's decision at a meeting where residents can make public comments. The board's annual reorganization meeting starts at 6 p.m. and will be followed by a regular meeting.


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