Plans for a gas station steps from Scajaquada Creek in Black Rock won key approvals Wednesday in City Hall.
In voting in favor of allowing Tops, at 333 Amherst St., to add gas pumps and a kiosk to its parking lot, the Planning Board was persuaded by a letter in support of the project from the city’s Environmental Management Commission and rejected calls for further environmental study.
Four board members voted in favor of the project, and none voted against it.
Later in the day, the Common Council’s Legislation Committee voted to send the project to the full Council, which meets Tuesday, for a vote.
North Council Member Joseph Golombek made a motion to send the proposal to the Council without endorsing the project, which he said would give people in the community more time to see if there are other legal issues that would prevent the gas station from being built.
Tops has been talking about adding a gas station to its store in the Grant-Amherst neighborhood for nearly a decade and has run into opposition at City Hall and the community during that time. Wednesday, however, members of the Planning Board said they could not have asked Tops to do any more than it had done in responding to environmental and community concerns.
“I think much of what is being done here is a net improvement from existing conditions,” said board member Cynthia Schwartz.
Tops’ lawyer, Daniel A. Spitzer, said that Tops’ plans to improve the view from the Jesse Kregal Pathway, which runs between the store parking lot and the creek, and to protect the creek from storm water runoff will make the site more environmentally friendly with the gas station than it is today.
“There is no site in the city that is going to be as well-protected as this site will be,” Spitzer said.
The entire parking lot, including parts belonging to other businesses in the plaza, will be drained into an oil and gas separator and grit chamber. A raised curb will prevent overflow into the creek in case of a flood, he said.
Along the pathway, trees and picnic tables will be added.
Mark Kubiniec, president of the Grant Amherst Business Association – who also is a gas station owner – was unsuccessful in convincing the Planning Board and Council members that more environmental study relating to state and federal authority at the site was necessary.
The Environmental Management Commission’s letter stated the commission was aware of Kubiniec’s concerns but that Tops had dealt with the substance of the environmental impacts and that “jurisdictional concerns” are incorrect.
Greg Nikiel, who lives and works near Tops, said the store has not done enough to engage the community and that he hopes Tops makes good on its promises to improve its property and mitigate any environmental impacts from the gas station.
In other business Wednesday, the Planning Board board heard about plans from PUSH Buffalo to rehabilitate older homes and build new ones into apartment units at scattered sites on and around Massachusetts Avenue, but the board took no action.