After tabling Wal-Mart revised site plan approval at their July 5th meeting until they could update conditions that would reflect the revised site plan changes, the Lancaster Town Board by the narrowest of votes, 3-2, gave the go ahead for construction to begin with numerous conditions that have to be met.
Neighboring Northwood residents, as well as others in attendance, believing the vote would be unanimous for approval, were stunned by the no votes cast by Council members Donna Stempniak and John Abraham.
Stempniak later confided she voted against the site plan approval because she didn’t like Wal-Mart’s labor practices and didn’t believe Lancaster needed a Wal-Mart.
Abraham stated that although the project was good for the economic climate of Lancaster, he learned that many of the residents felt as he that traffic and philosophical reasons led to his no vote.
Northwood residents Lee Chowaniec and Marty Galczynski addressed the board on landscaping, lighting and drainage issues. After their concerns were answered appropriately by the board and Wal-Mart project engineer Gary Olin, each thanked them in turn for being receptive to their concerns. “This site plan, with all the conditions being instated, is a far better plan than was offered by the previous developer,” Chowaniec stated.
Board members were thanked again for delaying site plan approval at the last meeting until conditions that were instated in the 2003 approval could be reviewed and reworked and the added conditions that resulted from the revised site plan approval.
Sponsoring the resolution, Stempniak declared, “This is going to be a long one as this project took so long to come to this point” Stempniak included the Town Board Findings from 2003 to the present.
As the process evolved over a 9+ year period, the Findings and conditions will be presented in their entirety to shed light on what is to transpire at Transit and William.
WHEREAS, the Town Board has compared the revised Wal-Mart site plan with the February 10, 2003 approved Site Plan and makes the following Findings:
1. The Revised Site Plan is consistent with the intent, objectives and applicable requirements of the Town of Lancaster Zoning Ordinance and with the area variances approved by the Town of Lancaster Zoning Board of Appeals on January 23, 2003.
2. The 105-foot-wide buffer area between the Wal-Mart project and the Northwood residents is maintained and is enhanced by additional plantings extended as recommended by the Town Planning Board and by a fence specifically requested by the Northwood residents.
3. Thirty-two foot high light poles are contained in the parking area. The Lighting Plan submitted shows virtually no light at the property line with the adjacent Northwood residents.
4. The previously approved storm water system (on land adjacent to Wal-Mart’s parcel over which it has easement rights) has been upgraded to meet current storm water quality standards.
5. The prior SEQRA review was conducted based upon a total Gateway Centre “build-out” of 270,000 square-feet on 36+acres and a Wal-Mart building of approximately 150,327 square feet. Wal-Mart is the fee owner of 24+ acres or approximately 67 % of the overall Gateway Centre area. On a proportional basis, the Wal-Mart owned parcel could accommodate approximately 180,000 square feet of retail space. However, the Revised Site Plan is for virtually the same sized Wal-Mart building as previously approved – 150,327 (now 150,228 square feet).
6. Five-foot wide sidewalks on William Street from Transit Road to the east property line are shown on the Revised Site Plan.
7. The proposed sixty foot wide Conservation Easement to the Town for a portion of the buffer area is included on the Revised Site Plan.
8. The rear wall of the Wal-Mart building (facing towards Northwood residents) is earth toned as shown in the revised architectural Elevations included with the Revised Site Plan application.
9. The revised architectural treatment is a substantial upgrade and improvement over the 2003 design.
10. The shift of the building to the north improves the visibility of the building from Transit Road which is intended to be the primary access point for the store.
11. The revised loading dock location (from the William Street side of the building to the north side) provides enhanced buffering for the Northwood residents.
12. The revised loading dock location provides for more direct access from Transit Road and further minimizes truck delivery maneuvers on site.
13. HVAC units have been located on the building as far to the west as is practicable. A four foot parapet wall along the rear of the building will be constructed to provide additional shielding.
14. Traffic projections and Traffic mitigation plans were based on a 270,000 square foot “build out” plus the existing out parcels. The Wal-Mart building, proposed at 150,228 square feet, represents approximately one-half of that traffic projection. The “Trip Generation” rates used in the Supplemental Draft and Final EIS’S are virtually the same rates used today for traffic analyses associated with new Wal-Mart stores.
15. Traffic mitigation specified in the prior SEQRA Findings for the entire Gateway Center Project (of which the Wal-Mart store is only a part of) has been designed and approved by NYSDOT. Construction of those improvements will be conducted concurrent with the store construction and will be completed prior to the store opening.
The Town Board hereby approves the Wal-Mart Revised Site Plan subject to the following conditions (which conditions are the same as the applicable conditions contained in this Board’s Site Plan approval resolution dated February 10, 2003 or as such conditions are updated in italics to reflect the Revised Site Plan submitted by Wal-Mart). The term “Developer” shall mean Wal-Mart.
1. Developer shall install 5’ sidewalks on William Street from Transit Road to the east property line.
2. Developer shall dedicate a 60’ conservation easement to the Town of Lancaster in accordance with the Town of Lancaster Town Board’s rezoning resolution dated April 8, 2002, which easement shall recite that there shall be no disturbance of the natural setting permitted except as determined to be necessary by the Town of Lancaster to assure the integrity of the conservation area and its purpose to provide a buffer to the residential housing located easterly of the premises, which buffer purpose will be furthered by the construction of the berm shown on the applicant’s grading plan. Said berm shall avoid disturbance of the natural vegetation in the buffer area to the maximum extent practicable.
Stempniak added the following to this resolution Monday evening after hearing resident concerns: The conservation area shall be revaluated after the Revised Site Plan has been finalized to assess if further plantings are needed in the area to replace vegetation damaged by construction.
3. The rear (eastern) wall of the building shall be earth-toned as shown in the revised architectural elevation.
4. No dumpsters are shown on the Revised Site Plan, nor are dumpsters permitted on the site. The Revised Site Plan provides for compactor units located within the loading dock area and also provides for a bale storage area north of the loading docks.
5. Developer shall cause screening of the HVAC units which shall be located on the roof of any building as far to the west or front face of the building roof as practicable to reduce noise emanating from those units. Developer shall also provide a 4’ high parapet wall along the east roof of the building.
6. Neither Wal-Mart or any other party shall be permitted to extend the paper street Transit Boulevard from Transit Road as a public or private roadway and, further shall not be permitted to connect any paved parking on site to an existing dedicated Transit Boulevard to the east or to any private road, extension of Transit Boulevard, or any portion of the paper street identified as Transit Boulevard running easterly from the project site.
7. Developer shall not be permitted to cause installation of loading docks along the easterly or rear wall of the building.
8. Developer shall landscape the site in conformance with the revised site plan with free standing trees to be planted at 20’ intervals.
9. Developer and owner shall grade, vegetate and maintain the area of site that is stripped and not developed.
10. The north roadway as shown on the 2003 approved site plan shall not be built as part of the Revised Site Plan approva.
11. Developer to construct turning lanes on William Street at the access road to William Street to wit: an easterly left turn lane and a westerly right turn-lane resulting in a four-lane road at the access road at William Street
12. No deliveries to be permitted to the Wal-Mart building between the hours of 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM, Local Time.
13. No outside public address speakers will be allowed in the easterly 300 ft. of the property and no outside speakers anywhere on site shall face easterly.
14. Developer to be responsible for replacement of any planting per this site plan which is damaged or dies with replacement to be made in the fall or growing season.
15. No overnight parking of recreational vehicles or trucks shall be allowed.
16. No temporary storage trailers or other storage units to be allowed.
17. Any sidewalk disturbed by pavement build-out along Transit Road shall be replaced.
18. Subject to terms of Zoning Board of Appeals area variances granted January 23, 2003.
The Town Board hereby approves the Wal-Mart Revised Site Plan subject to the following additional conditions:
1. The Wal-Mart building depicted on the Revised Site Plan does not include any Tire-Lube Express (TLE) operation.
2. Wal-Mart will erect signs indicating that no delivery truck traffic can enter the site from William Street, but instead shall require use of Transit Road
3. The landscaping proposed along the easterly portion of the site shall be extended to run southerly to a point approximately 100’ from the center line of William Street.
4. A six-foot high board-on-board vinyl fence will be added to the top of the landscaped berm as shown on the Revised Landscaping Plan, Drawing; C-5.
5. The paved fire access area behind (east of) the Wal-Mart building is for emergency use only and shall not be used for deliveries or unloading.
6. Special Conditions Numbers 1 and 2 of the USACOE Permit, a copy of which is on file in the Office of the Town Clerk, shall not be deemed fulfilled until Wal-Mart has demonstrated mitigation success and has provided to the Town written verification form the USACOE.
Northwood residents are pleased that the conditions instated offer more buffering protection, addresses drainage, traffic and truck traffic issues and is by far a more aesthetically pleasing building.
That said, Council member Abraham’s declaration that many residents share the same concerns as he regarding the traffic that Wal-Mart will bring, and/or that they don’t want to see a Wal-Mart in their town for philosophical reasons, counters what residents have been told by some town officials, namely, that everyone they spoke to wants to see a Wal-Mart come to Lancaster. In 1999, there were twice as many petitions opposing the Wal-Mart as there were favoring it.
As to the traffic issue mentioned by Abraham, Wal-Mart has had signalization at the William Street access driveway in place in its initial site plan. With the commitment that truck traffic will not be allowed on William, the relocation of the building and truck access and travel lane restriction, traffic impact mitigation measures have been put in place.
One has to wonder why all board members, except Dan Amatura, voted Aldi site plan approval where the use of the non signalized William Street Rite-Aid driveway as an access point will result in more pronounced traffic impacts on William Street than that of Wal-Mart.
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