A side access to a bustling plaza on Transit Road in Clarence is under consideration – again.
And that has residents in the surrounding neighborhoods up in arms – again.
The brewing controversy involves Eastgate Plaza, where Benderson Development Co. is proposing an access road from Greiner Road into the large retail center on Transit, which includes a Walmart Supercenter, a BJ’s Wholesale Club and a Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“Save Lives. Stop the Eastgate Egress,” read the lawn signs dotting the streets off Greiner.
While developers want to improve plaza access and alleviate congestion along busy Transit Road, residents say the driveway is only going to dump more traffic onto Greiner.
It’s a safety issue, said Anthony Ditsious, a Vista Avenue resident, who circulated petitions against the Eastgate project.
“It doesn’t belong,” Ditsious said of the proposed access road onto Greiner. “It’s too much traffic on a two-lane county road. Would you like all those cars driving by your house?”
“The health of Greiner Road is in real question right now, because it’s so beaten up over the winter,” said Karen Okonowski-Dunlap, who lives on nearby Greenhurst Road. “It’s kind of a nightmare to think of having more traffic there.”
The neighborhood, which has several hundred homes, has been down this road before.
Access to Eastgate from Greiner has been proposed by Benderson more than once, the last time about four years ago.
At that time, the developer said motorists traveling from the east often have to take a left turn onto Transit, and another left to get into the plaza.
After opposition from Clarence residents, however, Benderson in early 2011 withdrew plans for the Greiner Road access.
The project resurfaced again earlier this year, and was sent to the Clarence Planning Board, where site plans are now undergoing an environmental review, town officials said.
It could be a few months before all the information is gathered and a determination is made.
“This is such a big question and there has been a lot of heated debate on both sides,” Clarence Supervisor David C. Hartzell Jr. recently told The Buffalo News. “We’re in no hurry to rush a decision. Ultimately, it will probably take about six months before we come up with a decision one way or another. Obviously, there’s a lot of concern from the people. We want to make sure we get it right one way or another.”
Benderson executives did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Site plans show a landscaped-access road built on property directly across from Greenhurst Avenue leading to the BJ’s parking lot, near the wholesaler’s gas station.
In addition, some upgrades to Greiner are proposed, including center turn lanes at the intersection with Greenhurst and the plaza access road. Plans also show sidewalks on the north side of Greiner, from the Walgreens store to Greenhurst, and on the south side of Greiner, from the access road to Eastbrooke Place.
Vehicles leaving Eastgate onto Greiner would only be able to turn right, but residents like Ditsious and Okonowski-Dunlap are concerned motorists will use the neighborhood streets and subdivisions as turnarounds to get back to Transit Road.
“If the concern is traffic on Transit, we’re asking them to do just that – look at the traffic on Transit,” Okonowski-Dunlap said.
“It’s just not appealing to have this brought up again, after we squashed it four years ago,” she said. “How many times are we going to do this? It’s a big, big safety issue.”