NEWFANE — After a heated two-hour discussion, the town planning board approved the site plan for a proposed Dollar General in Olcott.
In a 5-2 vote, the planning board accepted the site plan review on the condition that the Town of Newfane and the developer, Zaremba Group, LLC, submit a request to the state Department of Transportation to build a sidewalk on East Lake Road. Nathan Vanderbeck and Sara Capen voted "no" on the resolution.
Much of the discussion at Monday's meeting focused on unsafe traffic conditions and the desire for a sidewalk near the store. At first, some board members wanted to make sidewalk construction a requirement, but Town Supervisor Tim Horanburg noted that if the company did not get the DOT to agree to a sidewalk, the project would effectively be stopped.
Zaremba Group's proposal originally called for two driveways into the store lot, but the company will now only have a driveway entrance on East Lake Road. This was done after the DOT said an additional driveway on Lockport-Olcott Road would impede traffic and be dangerous, according to Amy Dake, a senior managing traffic engineer with SRF Associates, a company contracted by Zaremba Group. The developer is creating a sidewalk along Lockport-Olcott Road to direct foot and bicycle traffic into the store, she added.
Capen suggested that children are not going to go all the way from East Lake Road to a sidewalk on Lockport-Olcott Road, and that a sidewalk along East Lake Road is needed.
"They are not going to go up (Route) 78 to a crosswalk to cross over," she said.
Vanderbeck was one of the most vocal opponents of the DG site plan on Monday night. Arguing that the project would change the characteristic of the neighborhood, he attempted a motion to reject the site plan, but that was defeated by a 4-3 vote.
Cheryl Feeley of Franklin Street said her main problem with the proposal is health issues associated with store construction.
"I have fought for three years to save my life, and with all that dust that is coming to my house it could kill me," Feeley said. "It's an everyday struggle for me to live."
Planning board chairman William Clark noted construction has to follow standards, and construction is always going on in Newfane. He added that another business would go into the neighborhood if Dollar General doesn't.
Feeley further argued the addition of Dollar General would change the characteristic of the neighborhood and devalue residences.
"They don't clean them," Feeley said, referring to DG stores generally. "They're filthy and that's what you want people coming into our town to see. They're disgusting."
One resident at the meeting voiced support for the project, noting that at first she was not supportive but has since changed her mind.
"Nobody wants a Dollar General in their backyard and it is my backyard. A year later, I've sat down with Dollar General ... They have met every one of my needs," she said. "They've done well for me as a property owner. They've listened to my needs, my concerns."
In an interview Tuesday, Horanburg said the developer and the town will now work on submitting a request to DOT and the developer's next step is to apply for a building permit.
The 7,500-square-foot store was designed specifically for Olcott, according to Mary Ann Wervey, senior vice president of retail development for Zaremba Group.