Brighton supervisor Moehle calls for smaller Whole Foods Plaza 

Brighton Supervisor Bill Moehle wants the developer behind the Whole Foods Plaza to scale back its plans.

During a press conference this afternoon, Moehle said that he's directing the developer, Daniele Family Companies, to either eliminate a 6,300 square foot building from the plan, or cut out some equivalent amount of building space. He also said that he's directing the company to sign on to an agreement not to put access points off of Allens Creek Road or Clover Street. 

The Daniele Family Companies, which was founded by restaurateur Mario Daniele and is headed by his sons, Anthony and Danny, proposed constructing four buildings totaling more than 90,000 square feet on Monroe Avenue, next to I-590. One of the buildings would be a 55,000 square foot Whole Foods store.

Moehle's push comes after a packed public hearing on the the project's environmental statement. In order for the project to proceed, the town has to find that the project reasonably avoids or mitigates environmental impacts to the nearby areas. Many neighbors said they want a Whole Foods, but believe that the project as proposed is too big and would worsen traffic on an already troubled stretch of Monroe Avenue.

But Moehle also was careful to say that he believes the project — slightly downsized — will benefit Brighton. It'll generate an additional $245,000 in property taxes a year, much of which would go to the Brighton school district, he said. The project also includes new traffic signals that would ease access into the plaza and into businesses on the opposite side of Monroe, and help traffic generally flow better, he said.

The final decision on the environmental statement, and ultimately the project, will come down to the Town Board. Moehle is just one voice on that board.

The Danieles have applied for incentive zoning, which would allow them to build a larger project than town zoning laws would otherwise allow. In return, they'd provide some other amenities — the incentives in the equation — to benefit the community.  The traffic signals are one, and some sidewalk improvements are another. During the press conference, Moehle mentioned that the developers pledge to improve a section of Auburn Trail.

Such arrangements are used widely in communities across the county and state.

"We've heard the comments, and we're not going to ignore them," Danny Daniele said.

The organization Save Monroe Avenue, which has opposed the project, issued a statement through its attorney, Aaron Saykin of Hodgson Russ's Buffalo office, characterizing Moehle's demands as inadequate.  The group claims to represent some businesses who want to remain nameless for fear of repercussions; it hasn't disclosed any members or funders.

“The town now admits what we’ve been saying all along — the supersized project is far too large
for the area," Saykin's statement says, in part. "But it still hasn’t solved the horrible traffic problem. The Town should require the developer to shrink the size of the project’s largest traffic generator, Whole Foods, and not some other tiny store. They should require a Whole Foods Market that resembles the 30,000 square-foot stores it’s currently opening nationwide, instead of a supersized 50,000 square-foot store that still requires a special zoning deal."

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