TOWN OF NIAGARA – Changes to the site plan of the Military Place commercial development were unveiled Tuesday at an informational meeting.
Representatives of Benderson Development Co. showed residents and town officials how the plan now includes several modifications that were requested by neighbors at a meeting earlier this year.
Military Place is a retail and restaurant development planned by Benderson for the property once occupied by John’s Flaming Hearth across Military Road from the Fashion Outlets of Niagara USA. Five buildings are planned for construction to join an existing former restaurant at the site.
One of the more significant changes is the moving of one of the larger proposed retail building 10 feet west toward Military. James Boglioli, an attorney for Benderson, said the building, which is adjacent to the backyards of homes on Ziblut Court, is being moved to accommodate the addition of a row of maple trees that will be planted between the development and the wetlands area on the east.
Most residents asked about the steps being taken to secure a buffer to the development from the residential homes on Ziblut and Effie Drive.
Boglioli said the buffer areas, which range from 25 to 50 feet, would include a 12-foot fence around the property that would meet an 8-foot fence on top of a 4-foot berm near the residences. The buffer areas would include grass, shrubs and trees. The Effie Drive backyards would be lined with Colorado spruces, he said.
In addition, none of the parking lot lights would be visible from the homes and no trash receptacles would be placed near those properties.
Most of the changes were done to comply with residents’ wishes and all exceed zoning requirements, he said.
Benderson would also replace some trees that were cut down along the wetland area and would develop a two-acre retention pond in the same part of the property.
Homeowner Debbie Bolents of Effie Drive said she was concerned about the impact of the site on property values. She said the Town Board should consider lowering the assessments of every property that abuts the site.
Councilman Charles Teixeira said residents could petition the assessment board of review to reduce assessments.
Boglioli said it was his experience that properties adjoining Benderson developments did not go down in value.
No retail tenants have been signed yet and Boglioli noted that the buildings would not be constructed until leases are confirmed. One of the largest structures planned is a 59,000-square-foot building on the eastern portion that is expected to lure a big-box store.
The only locations announced were a Longhorn Steakhouse to go up by July in the northwest corner of the site and a Five Guys Burgers and Fries and a TCBY frozen yogurt shop to go into the location that once housed a Perkins Restaurant.
Deputy Supervisor Danny Sklarski said the next step is for the planning board to review the site changes and send it to the council for final approval. No dates were announced.