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Cheektowaga board OKs Wegmans construction plans for Transit Road store

Wegmans has the go-ahead to develop what many are expecting to be a liquor store near its Losson Road store at 4960 Transit Road.

The Cheektowaga Town Board on Monday night unanimously approved plans to construct a 15,700-square-foot retail space in the Wegmans parking lot. Based on similar developments around upstate New York, many believe the space is destined to become a liquor store.

Wegmans maintained that the properties would be leased to separate entities from the Rochester-based grocery chain, and that the businesses would be “complementary” to the main store.

“As of now, this building is for a retail tenant,” Wegmans spokeswoman Michele Mehaffy said before the Town Board meeting.

Although similar Wegmans-owned sites have become liquor stores, Mehaffy said nothing was set in stone for the Cheektowaga location.

“That may be one possibility, but that is not something I can firmly say that we are planning,” she said.

Cheektowaga Councilman James P. Rogowski supported the plans, citing the creation of about 15 full-time jobs to staff the extra business, no matter what it might be.

“It could be a restaurant,” Rogowski said of the approved building. “It could be a liquor store. It could be both.”

The outparcel construction proposal was not subjected to a public hearing because Wegmans already owned the land and the site was already zoned for commercial development.

Independent liquor store owners have complained about the property as unfair competition.

New York State Law prohibits grocery stores from selling alcohol other than beer, wine coolers and certain premixed alcoholic beverages. Wegmans lobbied the state for years to repeal that law, but dropped the fight in 2007, after Nicole Wegman, daughter of Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman, bought an existing liquor store and moved it to a plaza near a Wegmans store in Pittsford.

State laws also prohibit anyone from owning more than one liquor store at a time, but don’t prevent multiple ownership among members of the same family. A few independent liquor stores, owned or co-owned by Wegmans employees or members of the Wegmans family, have popped up around the state.