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Wales proposal for vacant lot could bring Dollar General, Tim Hortons

A vacant lot near the intersection of state Route 16 and Emery Road in the town of Wales has drawn the interest of a developer, but it remains to be seen whether the town council shares his vision.

The project, which was informally presented to the council on Tuesday, includes construction of a Dollar General store and a Tim Hortons restaurant.

“We’re in conversations with them right now on how much land they need,” said property owner Mike Rupp, who presented the project on behalf of the developer.

Rupp, who didn’t name the developer but described him as a local builder, said he has a letter of intent from both Dollar General and Tim Hortons for the site.

“The fact that it’s the same developer makes the land even more inviting,” Rupp said. “He would build a common entrance.”

According to Rupp, each business would require about one acre of land, adding that “down the road,” he’d like to build a storage facility on the remaining land.

Rupp suggested splitting the nearly four-acre parcel into a pair of one-acre lots plus a third lot measuring about 1.9 acres.

The council appeared to balk at that idea, noting that Rupp would need to secure a zoning variance from the lot size; there was also a question of grandfather clauses and how the development would fit with the town’s master plan.

“It’s an aggressive use of the property,” added Supervisor Rickey Venditti. “Giving up ownership is big. It’s not like you’re splitting it in half but keeping ownership.”

“I’m open to any suggestions,” Rupp said.

Councilman Michael Simon suggested that Rupp submit a formal application, noting building inspector Walter Raichel has reviewed only an informal plan.

“Write down exactly what you’d like to do and give it to our town attorney,” councilman Donald Butcher said.

If the businesses were built, Rupp said they would bring about 50 jobs into the town, half of them full-time.

At least one resident wasn’t convinced of the jobs benefit.

Brenna Mager-Gawronski pointed to a restaurant near the intersection that specializes in breakfast, as an example.

“There are restaurants down the road as well,” Mager-Gawronski said. “It could possibly put them out of business.”

She also noted Dollar General has a store on Route 16 in Holland, about five miles south of the proposed Wales location.