Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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September 16, 2013

Niagara officials discuss impact of Fashion Outlet's expansion

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Niagara Town Board is one step closer to making a decision regarding environmental impacts and the proposed site plan for the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls’ planned $71 million expansion project.

During its latest work session Thursday, the board reviewed answers to the State Environmental Quality Review documents with engineer Norman Gardner in hopes of finalizing its stance on the project’s impacts on the land, water, wildlife and people surrounding the mall project’s space, the former Sabre Park mobile home park.

“In my opinion, the project’s being managed appropriately and been designed appropriately,” Gardner said. “So I don’t feel there’s any significant, adverse impacts (to the surrounding area) being proposed.”

The key words in Gardner’s statement are “significant” and “adverse,” both of which would need to be present to have the town declare the project a potential risk.

Gardner said he identified several significant impacts the project will have, both in the short term and longer range. But he said plans the mall’s ownership, Macerich Real Estate Trust, either mitigate any negative affects or simply are positive changes to the area.

For starters, the land is considered a “brownfield” site, with the state Department of Environmental Conservation recognizing chemicals have contaminated much of the soil at or beneath the surface. Before the mall can build on the land, Macerich must demonstrate the land has been cleaned to acceptable levels.

Another benefit may come in the form of updated water, sewer and electric utility infrastructure.

But the largest impact, and one of the most significant;y positive ones, Gardner said, may be the one on the water system of the area. Proposed building will occur within a 100-foot buffer of a state-designated wetland — not federally protected, according to Gardner — which he said may see help from a massive retention pond designed as the project’s storm water management system.

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