by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Town of Niagara Town Board on Tuesday voted to take lead agency status for the expansion of Fashion Outlets of Niagara.
Macerich Co., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based company that owns regional and community shopping centers across the country, now owns the former Sabre Park trailer home property and plans to add 50 new stores to the mall's current 150 stores.
With the town taking lead agency in the State Environmental Quality Review, Macerich engineers now will prepare the SEQR document, indicating any significant environmental impact caused by the project.
The SEQR document will be reviewed by the town engineer and come before the Town Board, possibly as early as the next regular meeting on May 21.
At Tuesday's special meeting, the board also held a public hearing on the needed rezoning of the former residential lots for the business expansion. No one spoke at the hearing, and the board tabled the matter pending the SEQR review.
Town Supervisor Steve Richards said the state Department of Environmental Conservation in its letter approving the town's taking on lead agency status noted that there is a freshwater wetland south of the mall project that will have to be part of the review.
The mall addition will be connected to the rear of the current mall at 1900 Military Road. Another entrance will be constructed off Fashion Outlets Boulevard.
Richards on Tuesday noted that Fashion Outlets Boulevard currently is a two-lane county road and as the expansion goes forward, the county ought to be looking at possibly widening the road to accommodate increased traffic.
Councilman Danny Sklarski applauded the town's taking lead agency status on the project, saying that the expansion will affect the financial stability of the whole county. "It's a good opportunity for the board to take a step forward and take leadership in a project that benefits everybody around us," he said.