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TOWN OF NIAGARA – The town engineer recommended Thursday that the Niagara Town Board move forward on the Fashion Outlets of Niagara expansion project.

Norman Gardner, principal associate with Clark Patterson Lee, told board members at a work session that the number of concerns regarding the state environmental quality review act had shrunk considerably, from “a tall mountain to a pile of dirt.”

Although he said there are still “a few things that can be addressed,” the board could be confident enough to approve the review.

As lead agent in the review process, the board has been looking at a number of issues related to the $71 million expansion of the Military Road shopping mall such as traffic, drainage, infrastructure, environmental concerns, and building and fire codes.

During an August session many voiced concerns that the increased emphasis on the Factory Outlet Boulevard side of the mall would create traffic problems.

Additional information was requested on the traffic studies, which had predicted that there would be no significant traffic increase.

The expansion would add 50 new stores in an additional 170,000 square feet, along with 1,150 more parking spots.

Major renovations to some of the existing structure also are planned at a price tag of about $18 million, it was noted.

Gardner told the board traffic improvements would be made by the Niagara County Highway Department and the state Department of Transportation, which agreed to make minor modifications on some traffic lights on Military Road to conduct accident studies on two nearby intersections.

Signal timing would be adjusted, the size of some turning lanes would be lengthened, and curves in the intersection of Military and Factory Outlet Boulevard would be improved, he said.

“If the state’s happy, it’s their road,” Gardner told Councilman Rob Clark during the discussion.