Dollar General addresses village about Gowanda location
GOWANDA — After months of waiting to hear directly from the horse’s mouth, Dollar General delivered a presentation to the village regarding their intentions to build a new store at a workshop preceding the latest village board meeting in July.
Village Attorney Deb Chadsey led the board’s discussion primarily, beginning with the village’s five main concerns regarding Dollar General’s proposed new store.
Five main concerns
The main concern of the board and village on whole was the impacts to land and water run-off. “The board determined there was insufficient information submitted for them to make a final assessment, but they believed it was possible for at least a moderate impact for the project,” Chadsey noted.
“The second was that the project had an potential adverse effect on traffic,” she then commented. “The third was that the project was located adjacent to residential homes, which would be adversely impacted by noise level and lighting.”
Continuing forward, Chadsey added, “The fourth was that the project is inconsistent with the municipality’s plan to have a central business district separate from the residential areas of the village. The fifth is that the location of the project is not consistent with community character. Those are the five issues that the board has asked the applicant to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) responding to.”
Why the location was selected
Individuals from the Broadway Group representing Dollar General were present and addressed questions from the board. Trustee Wanda Koch was quick to ask the Broadway Group why they selected the location they did, instead of two already vacant businesses in the village: the old Ames building in Collins and the Burger King Persia.
The Broadway Group’s reply noted that the Ames building in Collins wasn’t selected due to a low traffic count, while the old Burger King in Persia lacked efficient parking and was too irregularly shaped.
Broadway Group Attorney David Stapleton also added, “The traffic counts down here (near Burger King) were roughly 2,000 coming up and down Main Street, versus 10,000 where this (the selected site) is on Route 62.”
Stapleton also addressed concerns over the residential impact right away. “We are not asking for permission to approve site plans and put a business into any kind of residential area,” he stated. “We are in a commercial zoned area, your law right now is the zoning law, your plan for your municipal central business district is not a law. We are going where you tell us, which is the commercial district. We are not in a residential district.”
Additionally, Stapleton addressed the village’s community character concerns. “As for being not consistent with community character, some of the residents object to it …. I don’t have anything that tells me exactly what the community character is to compare it to,” he said, adding. “That’s a subjective opinion that every person that you talk to has. … We really have no way to respond to that.”
Before introducing the project’s engineer, Andrew Slater, to give a presentation of the proposed project, Stapleton added, “We would like to address civil plans (tonight).”
The demolition plan
Slater, a professional engineer for Dollar General, began his presentation with blueprints of the proposed facility and the demolition plan. “The houses that are there will have to go,” he began. “We also outline things that will remain, like some of trees out back, some of those kind of things.”
Slater went on to say, “It also outlines the cut for the driveway along Route 62. As for demolition (time frame) … I can’t say exactly, but I would not think it would take long to tear down the houses and start some of the earth work. … Maybe a couple weeks, something like that.”
Chadsey then inquired about truck activity during the construction process. “Any idea trucks per day, size of trucks, where the materials are going? Will the trucks be on the road? Blocking traffic?”
Slater was quick to reply, “They will go to a qualifying landfill. … I can’t answer about that (the number of trucks.) … The plan is for everything to be done within the site.”
“I think one of the issues is stormwater, the detention (pond), keeping (it) contained,” Slater said of stormwater. “There’s a pretty considerable area that we’re going to have to have for that.”
The announcement of a detention pond at the location seemed to catch several in attendance off guard. Of the news, Chadsey then inquired, “Is the pond designed to hold all surface water run-off as a result of the construction? How do you know its not going to end up on the yard of the people behind the store?”
Slater, also noting he was aware of the village’s prior flooding, stated that the pond met all the state standards. “There’s no outlet from that pond. The water would go into the pond and straight into the ground,” he said. “We designed it meeting the state of New York’s requirements for stormwater run-off and engineering standards, which is up to and including the 100-year storm event.”
Slater went on to say, “The pond will accommodate that. … It will take less than 48 hours maximum for the water to infiltrate the ground. It’s not going to be sitting there for days or weeks at a time.”
From there, Slater also noted that the pond would serve to catch run-off from the parking lot. “Run-off from the parking lot will go through catch grates and (also) run into the detention pond,” he stated. “We do understand that vehicles have the potential to leak, but according to the state requirements the ponds that we’re proposing provides for that.”
Chadsey then quickly asked, “There’s no oil-water separators in the catch grates?”
Slater replied, “No,” to which Stapleton added, “The state doesn’t require that.”
Switching gears, Slater then noted, “Let me just add, this pond is actually a little bit larger than what’s required for the 100-year storm. This pond will accommodate even more water than if the 100-year storm was to come.”
While the detention pond was new news, an integral part of the design that didn’t conform to village code standards also became a talking point. Through market research, Dollar General stated at the meeting that it determined their facility would only require 30 parking stalls, but the village of Gowanda has their own required number of parking spots according to village code.
“You need to submit the study that shows you don’t need the number of parking spaces that the village requires you to have,” Chadsey said of the variance. “You’re asking for a variance. It doesn’t matter what the project is; you want a variance from the legally mandated number of parking spaces. … You have to show something, Dollar General has to have something.”
Off that, Gowanda Mayor Dave Smith added, “Just remember the law also stipulates the number of public parking spaces, which you are in violation of. The law is law.”
In response, Stapleton then stated, “And that’s why the ZBA accepts applications. … The store isn’t going to be any different than any of the other retail stores up there.”
Noise and light impact
Another point of contention between Dollar General and the village proved to be the impact of lighting and noise on neighboring residences.
“Have you ever looked at noise impacts? Just like car counts, somebody’s done this,” Chadsey noted.
“There are currently trees in the back of the lot that will remain,” Stapleton commented. “That will show an additional buffer for the adjoining neighbors.”
Slater also noted that there would be installation of a fence to offset noise impact as well. “The plan also shows a board fence that we’re planning to put along the northwest and south property lines to help shield adjacent properties,” he stated. “A six-foot-four fence.”
Stapleton also commented that Dollar General employed luminosity studies in their research for the proposed location. “Whenever you do these projects, you do luminosity studies,” he said, adding. “They essentially indicate what kind of spillage there is off of wall packs, across the parking lot and onto adjacent properties. By the time you get to the boundary line there is virtually no spillage whatsoever.”
Five main concerns revisited
Following the lengthy discussion, Chadsey brought the new information given full circle, arriving back at the village’s initial concerns. “The point of this was the scope,” she stated. “The first item, insufficient information to fully assess land impacts, you’ve certainly given us more information and that is going to have to be reviewed by an engineer for the village, so I’m going to hold #1 open for now.”
Chadsey went on to say, “#2 is a traffic study, a traffic count is not a traffic study. What we want to know is what is the level of service, how will the level of service degrade … is there capacity on that road to handle additional traffic? That needs to be addressed in an EIS.”
Off the mention of an EIS, Chadsey also added, “The location of the project is adjacent to the residential homes that are concerned about noise and light levels. You submitted additional information. That’s going to stay open because I need to go back and the village needs to talk with the village engineer.”
Additionally, Chadsey indicated significant concern with the potential economic impact. “You have to address the potential economic impacts,” she stated. “I don’t believe that Dollar General doesn’t know how often other businesses go under.”
Chadsey then went on to say, “Number 5, same thing, we think that this is inconsistent with the community character and that there’s substantial opposition to this. Both of those are considerations under SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) and I just need you to address why Dollar General doesn’t believe that its inconsistency isn’t going to be detrimental.”
As discussion wrapped up, Chadsey and the village board determined that Dollar General needs to give the village of Gowanda an EIS by Sept. 15. They also decided a public hearing for SEQR and the zoning board will be held Oct. 15 at 4:30 p.m.
Following the workshop, where the public wasn’t allowed to speak, was the regular board meeting. Lisa Crassi, neighbor to the proposed Dollar General, voiced her concern for the new updates there. “I know as the neighbor to Dollar General, I’m definitely concerned,” she said. “A lot of great questions were asked … but I’m still concerned with a lot of the main issues that weren’t (addressed).”
Crassi went on to say, “I’m also now concerned with this retention pond. I just took a look at the blueprints and its 15 feet from my property line. I’m not sure if water underground still goes over, like it would on top, to mean downhill it would still come into my property. Also, if its sitting there, is it getting bugs? Should I get concerned about West Nile? That just kind of opened up another whole list of concerns.”