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Penfield Town Board approves zoning change for Baytowne Plaza

Posted at: 12/19/2012 11:51 PM
Updated at: 12/20/2012 3:00 PM

Penfield may be one step closer to getting a Super Walmart. On Wednesday night, the town board approved a zoning change that would allow the developers of the nation's largest discount retailer to build a bigger store at Baytowne Plaza.

This is the first significant vote on this proposal since The DiMarco Group first presented the idea to the Penfield Town Board almost four years ago. The DiMarco Group had requested a change of zoning to more than 20 acres of land behind the current store.

However, Wednesday night, the board approved the re-zoning of only 7.9 acres of land. They also put in what is known as a conservation easement. That means no other construction will be allowed on the remaining acres, including housing. The town asked Walmart to move the store forward.  Those remaining acres will be a buffer between the plaza and the homes nearby.

The plan all along has been to increase the store's size and turn it into a Super Walmart with a full grocery store. The new store will be about 175,000 square feet. The current 115,000 square foot store will be used to house smaller retail shops and restaurants. Penfield's Town Supervisor says the board has been very careful to balance the concerns of homeowners and the town's desire to bring back a plaza that was once flourishing and vibrant.

Supervisor Tony LaFountain says he wants the plaza to be able to compete with Webster's "Towne Center" Plaza, which offers a variety of stores. He says some of the stores that used to be in Baytowne left for that location and took the shoppers with them.

"One of the things we see in this redevelopment is an opportunity for those stores to come back,  to flourish, to support the community, support the neighbors, and done in a way that we have put in a lot of extra measures. Not only from the landscaping;  traffic circulation, noise concerns and everything like that." says LaFountain.

Although the board gave approval to the zoning change, Walmart will now have to go back to the town planning board for site approval. Then,  there will be a public hearing sometime early next year. If all goes well for the company, construction could begin as early as next fall.