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TOWN OF NIAGARA – The site plan for Military Place won approval from the Niagara Town Board on Tuesday, while neighbors continued to complain about the commercial development in their backyards.

The board voted, 3-1, to accept the changes to the plan for the Benderson Development Co. site, which is across Military Road from the Fashion Outlets of Niagara USA on property once occupied by John’s Flaming Hearth. Only restaurants have been announced so far, with a Longhorn Steakhouse going up this summer and a Five Guys Burgers and Fries and a TCBY moving into the building of a former Perkins Restaurant.

Retail buildings will be constructed as leases are signed, according to the developer.

The site plan will now go to the town engineer and the Planning Board for final approval.

Prior to the presentation, about seven neighbors from Effie Drive and Ziblut Court, whose properties abut the site, spoke against the commercial development adjoining their backyards. Many said they were led to believe that the property would remain undeveloped and were never informed what was happening with the site.

Paul Chiodo, of Effie Drive, said he objected to a 22-foot-high building 25 feet from his backyard pool.

Chiodo, who said he had tried to purchase a portion of the property in the past, was told by town officials that the property was landlocked and could not be purchased but would never be developed. No one on the present board was involved in that exchange, it was noted.

Benderson attorney James Boglioli said his company followed all the steps outlined by town law for the rezoning process in 2009 and has gone beyond the requirements to please the neighbors.

Many of the buffer zones are larger than the law requires, and several other barriers, such as berms, an 8-foot-high fence and trees, were put in place along the property line.

Boglioli said several of the steps taken in the wooded wetland area were required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, such as changes to the drainage ditch, installation of a retention pond and removal of trees.