Neighbors frustrated with problems they say are caused by a deteriorated Super Flea site on Walden Avenue raised concerns Monday night about the accountability and the plans of a developer looking to remake the parcel.
Questions about whether Benderson Development will keep its promises associated with erecting a new, 185,000-square-foot building -- including maintaining a proposed buffer with adjoining residences, as well as the potential effects on traffic, noise and drainage -- came out loud and clear during a public hearing in Cheektowaga Town Hall.
About 60 people attended the session, called to take input on the proposed rezoning of the Super Flea site at 2500 Walden from "light manufacturing" to "general commercial."
Concerns about rodents already creeping into the neighborhood and noise from delivery trucks and traffic coming to the site were among the issues neighbors brought to town officials.
"Why is Benderson always building these empty buildings?" said Barbara Mongiovi, of Evergreen Place, who pointed to buildings owned by Benderson in the town.
"Some of them have been there for years and I don't understand. As long as the flea market is being used, why can't we just keep it being used instead of having another empty building?" said Mongiovi, who was one of the 15 people to speak during the hearing.
Donna Michalek, of Nantucket Drive, told the board she's had concerns over how Benderson has maintained the property, noting the firm has previously replaced tattered downspouts on the building with other broken ones.
"They say they're going to maintain it," Michalek said of a proposed 50-foot buffer area -- with a berm, another fence and trees -- between the proposed building and the residents who live behind it. "Is it going to happen?"
The hourlong public hearing included a presentation from James Bogliosi, an attorney for Benderson.
The developer's plans call for the new building to replace three others, which will be demolished. There would be three driveway entrances to the site -- fewer than the current five -- and the firm is proposing a traffic light on Walden Avenue, though final approval has not been granted by the state Department of Transportation, he said.
Bogliosi said studies about traffic, noise and storm water runoff have come to the conclusion that the proposed redevelopment will bring no significant adverse impacts.
He noted that as the property is zoned currently, many other uses, including manufacturing, are permitted there.
No action on the proposed rezoning was taken Monday night. In order to move forward, the project will need the new zoning designation, as well as site plan approval from the Planning Board and the Town Board.
Bogliosi said Benderson has no tenant lined up for the site yet.
Town Planner Daniel Ulatowski previously said a home-improvement tenant, like Lowes, might be interested in the site.
Rich Stanton, a Buffalo attorney who said he is representing several of the project's neighbors, warned officials, saying he believed the town was not following the proper environmental review process for the project.
Lydia Lane resident David Ulatowski questioned the results of Benderson's various studies, telling the board he wondered how increasing the use of a site from two days to seven days, as is proposed, and not have more effect than the firm is claiming.
"How you can have a study to find out what's going to happen without knowing what you're putting there, I don't know," Ulatowski said.
Ulatowski said he submitted petitions signed by more than 50 residents opposed to the proposed rezoning.
In other business:
The board set a public hearing on a developer's proposal to build 84 apartments at 4989 Genesee St., near Transit Road.
In order for the proposal to move forward, the developer, Bella Vista Group, has requested the 6.2-acre parcel be rezoned from a general commercial and residential designation to an "apartment district."
The hearing will be held at 6:45 p.m. July 5 in Council Chambers in Town Hall, 3301 Broadway at Union Road.
On April 14, the Planning Board recommended the parcel be rezoned, contingent upon the public hearing, according to the board's meeting minutes.