LEWISTON – A few vocal residents spoke out at a public hearing by the Village Board on Monday, protesting what they felt was an incomplete traffic study submitted on behalf of Ellicott Development’s proposed mixed-use plaza at 790 Center St.
The traffic-impact study, prepared by SRF Associates of Rochester on behalf of Ellicott Development, concluded that “no significant impact” to traffic would result from the proposed $14 million plaza.
But residents who appeared before the trustees Monday disputed that.
Property owner William A. Paladino, CEO of Ellicott Development, has been talking with village officials since 2013 to try to win approval of the plaza, which would be on 4.1 acres on Center Street bordered by North Eighth and Onondaga streets. The plaza would include a restaurant, 13 apartments, a drugstore with a drive-thru lane, a coffee shop and five to six boutique-style retail shops.
According to the study, the proposed plaza is expected to generate about 71 vehicles entering and 66 exiting during the peak time of 5 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and an additional 134 entering and 125 exiting vehicles on Saturdays between noon and 1 p.m.
A major concern expressed by residents was that the traffic study was done in October, which is not a peak time in the village, and that it was done in 2014, before plans were presented for Fairchild Place, a 28-unit apartment complex proposed on Onondaga Street.
“October is ridiculous. I have a business on Center Street and I close in October,” Neil Garfinkel said. “You have to do (the study) in the summer when we have a lot of traffic.”
His wife, Donna Garfinkel, agreed, saying, “We have Artpark. We have festivals. We have the Peach Festival, which is right on the corner where you are doing (this plaza).”
The Village Board discussed the traffic study but took no action. Mayor Terry C. Collesano said the Village Board wanted more time to study the lengthy report.
Ellicott counsel Peter J. Sorgi said the project follows the plan for developing a growing village.
“The Village Board is not just looking at traffic,” Sorgi said.
“You have a developer that wants to do in-fill development, meaning not sprawl, but in the village. It should be in the village. It makes sense. That’s exactly what your comprehensive plan says.”
He added, “Traffic is a problem until you have no traffic. You want villages to be vibrant.”
The residents who spoke at the meeting said they would like traffic to enter and exit the plaza from Center Street, a proposal that was rejected by the Planning Board and not recommended by the traffic study.
The study recommends that driveways along Onondaga and North Eighth streets should allow traffic to exit and enter, but that a driveway along Center should be an enter-only driveway, to improve safety for all drivers as well as pedestrians on Center.