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Noco seeks more parking for Elmwood Avenue station

Noco Energy Corp. wants to put in six new parking spaces and an access aisle on a single-family lot next door to its gas station and convenience store at the intersection of Elmwood and Forest avenues, to give customers more access to the business.

Noco, through Elmwood Village LLC, is seeking a zoning map amendment from the Common Council to permit the new use for the southern part of the 0.15-acre property at 1143 Elmwood.

That's just north of the store and gas station at 1131 Elmwood, which lacks enough spaces for its business, according to Noco's application to the city. The store is one of the company's busiest, with over 1,000 transactions per day.

Noco would also relocate its dumpster to the new site, and install new curbing and landscaping along the gas station property.

The Tonawanda-based energy company purchased the store and station - formerly a Mobil station - in 2004, long after it was already developed. Officials said the current site has only five spaces - two of which are parallel to the street and not in compliance with the Green Code - but they are very worried about "ongoing concerns" and liability issues related to both pedestrian and vehicle safety and access.

"For decades, there's never been enough parking," said attorney Sean Hopkins, representing Noco. "it addresses concerns that have been longstanding for decades about pedestrian safety as well."

The company bought the single-family house recently, but plans to renovate it as part of the project and will maintain it as a rental property. Noco officials also met with three adjoining property owners to gain their support.

Even so, the Planning Board on Monday night would not issue a recommendation to the Council to approve the project because two members did not like the loss of greenspace and the lack of an adequate buffer between the expanded parking lot and the house. The board also received eight letters in opposition.

"Make no mistake, the reason we bought this property and are seeking to expand is because we see a liability with the current pedestrian and vehicular interaction," said Noco executive Tim Boyle. "It is dangerous. This is one of our sites that has a heavy level of pedestrian traffic, and we feel an obligation to mitigate this liability."

Ultimately, Noco agreed to come back in two weeks with a revised plan that would include a new five-foot wide buffer of vegetation.

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