Clarence First & the Wegmans Proposal at Roll & Transit

7 Jun

I have read the concerns of the Clarence First group and have the following comments:

1. The Clarence Master Plan shows the entirety of Transit Road as being “commercial” use. More specifically, at its drafting in 2000, the area bordering Transit Road is zoned as “major arterial”. The area behind that, where Wegmans wants to go, is shown as “agricultural”. The Master Plan would change that to “residential”, except Transit in Swormville, north of County Road, would be “mixed use”. At Roll & Transit, white is “residential”, and pink is “commercial”:

The Master Plan proposes that the areas around Roll & Transit be zoned as “arterial” (purple), and the neighborhoods bounding it are “low density residential” (yellow):

The problem here isn’t the area fronting Transit Road – it’s the area between the Highland Farms subdivision and the properties fronting Transit. That’s the “Section B” that Wegmans wants re-zoned.

The Clarence First website doesn’t cite any specific portion of the Master Plan that would prohibit this project, but instead quotes vague principles espoused within the Master Plan, such as:

striving to maintain the rural character of these roadways, outside of hamlet and subdivisions

That passage has nothing to do with Transit Road, but may be applicable to Roll. The passage in the Master Plan from which this passage is taken deals with the subdivisions in and around Clarence Center, and that these 2,000 new homes have impacted traffic volume along these rural feeder roads. The Master Plan requires that they maintain their rural character, regardless of any future updates to them. Clarence First omitted the parenthetical that immediately follows that passage:

(no sidewalks, curbs etc. outside of developed areas).

In any event, the Wegmans plan doesn’t make any update or upgrade to Roll Road – it merely includes a feeder driveway to the store off Roll. There’s nothing rural about that particular part of town. Although a few of the properties in question would have to be re-zoned, it doesn’t change the fact that a Wegmans at that location does not fundamentally violate the land use envisioned for almost all of the Transit Road corridor – that of “major arterial”.

2. There is a genuine and real concern about the fact that Transit Middle School is directly across the street from the proposed Wegmans. Although a traffic signal is planned, that doesn’t provide adequate protection for kids who cross Transit from the neighborhoods in Clarence to attend the Middle School. Therefore, as a condition to approval and zoning changes, Wegmans should be required to construct a pedestrian bridge to enable children and other pedestrians to cross Transit Road without interacting in any way with the traffic below. And no, it doesn’t have to be ugly.

3. The homes in question are within spitting distance of Transit Road, and have been very fortunate indeed that no major construction has taken place on the adjacent parcels fronting that busy street. Callous as the “coming to the nuisance” doctrine may seem, you don’t move next to the airport and complain about the jet noise, so you don’t move near Transit Road and complain about big box stores and congestion. Wegmans should obviously take extraordinary measures to ensure that the buffer between it and the adjacent subdivision is adequate so as to minimize the affect the new store will have on these properties. The buffer width might need to be expanded.

4. I’m not convinced that a Wegmans will have all that bad an effect on surrounding neighborhoods. Frankly, I’d love to be walking distance from a grocery store, and the Williamsville School District isn’t exactly poorly regarded. Whatever value those homes would lose due to their proximity to the Transit Road corridor is probably de minimis, if not already factored into the equation.

None of this is meant as an attack on the genuinely concerned residents living in the immediate area, and in anticipation of some criticism, no, Wegmans has not paid me or otherwise remunerated or rewarded me for writing this post. I’m just a regular shopper who frequents the existing Transit Road store, and would like it expanded to resemble the “big” Wegmans on Sheridan.

Both sides of the issue are encouraged to attend the Town Board Meeting at Clarence Town Hall on June 10th at 7:30 pm.

23 Responses to “Clarence First & the Wegmans Proposal at Roll & Transit”

  1. wiam khadra June 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    I live in that area i will sell you my house if you want to live there.i dont like to have a dirty and smell (food) when i sit in my patio ,and the smell of trucks also the noise .
    I am sure you work for wegmen and paid high salary you might be the lawyer. you are saying that because it does not effect you .
    they already have a store the difference is 560 feet more south.there is noway on earth that you can tell me it is more convinent (distance wise ) wegmen becomes more walmart (money hungery) it does not matter whose life is effected (step on them)they are some peasents, who cares the rich always win .

  2. Adam K. June 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm #

    I think people are drastically overestimating the noise and pollution impact. My friends live on Eastbrook place, backing up to the BJs, and when they visited me today I asked about if its a problem. They told me they’ve never noticed pollution, and only hear it when a truck honks, which they said happens “almost never”.

    They said traffic is horrible on Transit but not a problem on their street.

    Wegmans is a private company with a powerful brand name and a strong incentive to maintain a positive reputation. I’m sure they’ll keep the neighborhood classy.

    I’m generally anti-development in virgin areas, but I don’t think Transit qualifies.

    It’s not across from the school. Its across from a couple banks and a giant plaza anchored by Consumers beverages. The school is almost past it.

  3. STEEL June 7, 2009 at 8:51 pm #

    Transit road is a beautiful thoroughfare that needs to be protected from big box development!

  4. Joe Genco June 7, 2009 at 9:13 pm #

    Have at it Wegmans and good luck.

  5. Mike June 7, 2009 at 11:38 pm #

    Does anyone know if there any plans for reuse of the old store?
    I’d like to see Amherst work with Clarence on this one to make sure the old location doesn’t become just another of many vacant storefronts/buildings in Amherst and make finding a suitable long term tenant a condition of relocating. Of course Clarence doesn’t care because of the additional tax $’s they would receive from allowing this project to go forward.

  6. lifestooshort June 8, 2009 at 7:28 am #

    I live within walking distance of that big super Wegmans on Sheridan Dr…be careful what you wish for. Wegmans used to be my store of choice, and with a family of 5 (3 of them growing boys) I’ve dropped a fair amount of money there over the years. In the last 6 months or so it has become my least favorite place to shop. Because of my work schedule I’m often there at peek shopping times…late afternoon or Saturday morning. Almost every week they are completely out of at least one thing I need, or have large carts blocking several isles because they are stocking a shelf. I stopped last night (Sunday) around 5:30. There was not a cart left in the store, they were all out in the parking lot, filling many parking spaces and blocking the road. As I left I watched as a girl crossing the access road on her bike got hit by someone rushing to turn right on red. She walked away with some scrapes on her legs, but her bike is toast…It’s not the community friendly corporation that it once was.

    And I echo the concerns about what will happen to the current store on Transit road. Might be great for Clarence…but Amherst certainly does not need yet another large vacant retail parcel.

  7. August West June 8, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    I tend to agrees with lifestooshort on this one. I live pretty close to the area – no need for a super big Wegmans.

  8. lefty June 8, 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    @ lifestooshort

    I am a little confused by your comment. The one thing that is for certain is Wegmans as a business knows the grocery business. They have a cult like following almost. I know people in VA who dive 45 min to shop at a Wegmans because of the quality over various points.

    A lot of the challenges you face at the Sheridan store I feel will be solved with the addition of the bigger Transit store. In effect, eliminating or alleviating the challenges from the Sheridan store. Reduced pressure on the Sheridan store will help the staff keep the shelves stocked, carts returned and parking spaces open IMO.

  9. Haterade June 8, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    I grocery shop almost exclusively at Wegmans. I have never experienced the proiblems at the Transit Lancaster store that Life’s too short has, and to the contrary always find the staff helpful and courteous, and the prices are generally lower and the selection better than at most other chains.

    A little word of advice … if you go shopping Sunday afternoon (when the sales start and most people shop) don’t be surprised if some items aren’t re-stocked or all the carts are in the lot …. just grab one on your way in !

  10. pirate's code June 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    I don’t see how Wegman’s should be held accountable for some idiot behind the wheel of a car.

    Any store with that many cars coming in an out is going to create some concern somewhere. We shop at the Wegman’s on NFBlvd in Amherst and at peek times traffic can be a bit of a hassle. Is it Wegman’s fault…or Kohl’s…or Tops…or the wildly busy garden center across the street. But never, since that store opened, has my family experienced the sort of issues lifetooshort claims.

  11. Brett June 8, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    I am not in favor of Wegmans building a new store on Transit Road. While I agree that the current Wegmans on Transit is smaller that other Wegmans, I think that if consumers want a bigger store then they should drive the extra 2 miles to one.

    I live off of Transit Road [in the area in question] and have to say that the traffic is already unbearable on most weekends. By moving the store up a block, it only lengthens the traffic pattern and congestion.

    If Wegmans wants to increase store size, then why don’t they just build onto their current store…build up. I’ve been to other retailers who have two floors and it works. I’d like to see Wegmans use the money they would have invested in a new store and reinvest it in the current store. I agree in a previous message in that we don’t need another empty box on Transit road.

  12. Adam K. June 8, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    For the record, they’d have to get a zoning exemption from Amherst to do that.

  13. kris June 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm #

    I think Wegman’s should be spending their time & money expanding the Buffalo Amherst St store. To hell with all the suburban white devils. Us city people need massive grocers too!

  14. James June 8, 2009 at 9:36 pm #

    I live within short walking distance of where the proposed store will be located and have received countless mailings about evil Wegmans trying to destroy our beautiful town of Clarence. In the words of Artie Lange: Waaaaaaaahhh!
    I’m in favor of this project. It’s not like this is a Walmart. Wegmans stores are attractive, the stores keep well manicured properties, offer high end food, have cafes (in their bigger stores) and according to what I’ve read about this particular store; will be selling wine and liquor. In one of the many fliers I’ve read, one of the complaints is that there will be liquor being sold “dangerously” close to residences and a school. Um.. there is a Consumer’s Beverage that just opened up not too long ago on Transit near Klein and is directly across the street of where this Wegmans would be located. Nobody complained about that. Nice try on that argument folks.

    What the people living in the surrounding neighborhood are really worried about is the “unfavorable” people that will be going to the store and the traffic it will bring. Which is the exact same argument people on Maple had with the proposed “Amherst Town Centre”. It’s a lame argument.

    Transit in this area is already a nightmare in the morning and afternoon and this will only add to the chaos but like other competent people, I already avoid Transit like the plague and the people who live in the developments affected by this can and do easily avoid it as well. Use Roll and Harris Hill roads. It may add a few minutes on to your daily commute but it’s also avoiding the traffic which is far more nerve racking.

  15. Anne June 9, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    We don’t need another Big Box store on Transit. The current Wegmans is just the right size and an enjoyable shopping experience. Nobody wants to run from one end of a huge store like Walmart to pick up dog food then have to dash all to the other to grab a loaf of bread.
    To me the bigger problem is cutting down what little space is still available for wildlife. I have seen so many more foxes roaming backyards at all hours of the day and night. One fox has cubs under a shed next door to our house and I worry about my small dog
    Chances are if Wegmans moves down the street then Target will use the space left behind to expand into yet another annoying super store.
    Enough is Enough!

  16. Adam K. June 9, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    If the proposed store was Buffalo’s first Saks Fifth Avenue or Nordstrom, do you think there would be complaints? Serious Question.

  17. Adam K. June 9, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    For the record, on my last point, I ask because I’ve heard twice from a local RE broker that Nordstrom is poking their nose around area malls and surrounding areas.

  18. tracy casilio June 11, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    Clarence used to be rural and beautiful country, until they developed neighborhoods such as Highland Farms, streets like Kipping dr. Less than 20 years ago the land used to be farmed and filled with wildlife, Longtime residents used to enjoy peaceful space. For years the construction trucks have coming and going, building these very neighborhoods. Transit used to be one lane. With a farmhouse here and there, now there are houses slapped onto the land, one after another, did you care were the wildlife went …. because people wanted to move out here and enjoy the quality of life. Now it is no longer the beautiful land it once was. Highland farms was built over night they have no right to tell others what to build or not.

  19. Adam K. June 11, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    tracy – move to newstead.

  20. Tellico July 10, 2009 at 12:59 am #

    Okay, let’s review. The entire region surrounding Buffalo hasn’t gained a soul in, oh, maybe 30 years. Population has remained at about zero growth. In Buffalo, houses are being torn down because they are abandoned. In Clarence, they can’t build them fast enough. As a result, we spend tax dollars to tear down buildings, and we spend tax dollars to keep widening Transit Road every few years. South of Main Street, how many lanes will it be? We are now up to 30,000 cars PER DAY on Transit Rd. Still, we keep building, even though the region has experienced no real growth. And now we have to build another Wegman’s?

    Oh yeah — I see that you are in favor of that walkable mall in Amherst where the gun club used to be. ” These types of developments are popular throughout the country and the closest thing to it we have here is a couple of restaurants and shops at the Walden Galleria that you can access from an exterior sidewalk.”< you say. Of course, that's correct. What you fail to mention is that we USED to have plenty of these types of developments. They used to be called "Delaware Ave" or "Broadway" or "Main St., " or "Elmwood Ave". Except for the last example, we collectively abandoned those walkable streets. then we decide that we need to rebuild them a few miles away — with tax giveaways, easements, and plenty of tax dollars in infrastructure costs.

    We need a regional approach to growth in Erie County. Our major shopping corridors should be in the city, not the suburbs. Our major employment centers should be the city, not the suburbs. If you disagree, that's great — but then don't complain about high taxes. When you build millions of dollars in infrastructure and then abandon it in one generation and then build it all over again a few miles out, then abandon THAT in the next generation just to rebuild further out, you really can't complain about sprawl, traffic, congestion or high taxes.

    Though, I'm sure many will.

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