by Susan Mikula Campbell
Town of Niagara residents had an opportunity Tuesday to review revised plans for Benderson Development's Military Place plaza on Military Road.
Eric Recoon, Benderson vice president for development and leasing, and attorney James Boglioli described a revised plan that they said resulted from discussions with residents on their concerns about the development and its wetlands greenspace on the old John's Flaming Hearth/Perkins property.
The business portion of the plaza was shifted 10 feet forward toward Military Road to allow a bigger buffer to the wetlands greenspace at the back of the property. The greenspace will be divided from the business portion of the development by a 12-foot wooden fence and a row of deciduous trees. The drainage ditch within the greenspace has been shifted 20 feet off property lines. The drainage pond on the business side of the fence will back up to a proposed retail building and be closed off from the rest of the plaza by a chain-link fence. The proposed retail building paralleling the pond will do loading only on the sides or in the front.
On both sides where the business portion abuts homeowners' properties in the Effie Drive and Ziblut Court areas, there will be a 50-foot buffer, including a four-foot berm topped by an eight-foot, white vinyl fence and lined with Colorado spruces. There also will be yard drains on both sides. "Any water that runs in your back yards will be picked up by our drainage system," Boglioli said.
Councilman Rob Clark asked if the buffer zones could be put in place first and was told that could be done after the grading of the property was completed.
The wetlands area will remain controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers. Benderson will plant trees there and give the Corps five years of maintenance reports before the area is allowed to go wild.
Deputy Supervisor Danny Sklarski assured homeowners the plan needs to go back to the Planning Board (at a date to be announced in May) before coming to the Town Board for a final vote.
Recoon indicated that Benderson is hoping to get approval as soon as possible so construction can begin this spring, due to the area's short construction season.
Buildings will be constructed as leases with various businesses are finalized. Currently, Goodyear Tire will remain open and the former Perkins building will house a Five Guys restaurant and TCBY yogurt. Near Military Road, a LongHorn Steakhouse will be constructed.
Not all residents were pleased with the plan.
Paul Chiodo of Effie Drive, whose property abuts the side of the business portion of the plaza, said he and a neighbor, who had built their homes some 30 years ago, had been told by a former supervisor that the commercial property near his home was landlocked and not useable for business. Otherwise, he would have considered purchasing the property, Chiodo said, concerned about the drop in his property values.
Both Recoon and Boglioli said Benderson makes a point of maintaining its properties, green spaces and fences, and property values have not been a problem in other developments.
Debbie Bolents of Effie Drive said Benderson Development did take the residents' concerns into consideration and was willing to make the improvements residents requested.
"We won't know until things are developed and see how it affects property values," she said. "Time will tell."