Growing community opposition to oversized Whole Foods Plaza
As more facts come to light, the Brighton Grassroots citizens group continues to build widespread community opposition to the Brighton Town Board’s approvals for the proposed plaza on Monroe Avenue with the grassroots organization calling for the plaza to be redesigned according to standard zoning limits.
“It is important to remind our community that we are not opposed to a Whole Foods grocery store,” said Howie Jacobson, managing member of Brighton Grassroots, and Treasurer of Brighton Grassroots Referendum Committee. “What we object to is: the town’s negligent acceptance of an inadequate traffic design that the DOT has deemed deficient; the town supervisor’s decision to give this developer a special deal to bypass standard zoning limits; and the town quietly giving this developer a tax break that has already cost our community over $750,000 in lost tax revenue.”
Town board meetings have experienced record attendance, with the community expressing concern over potential traffic congestion that will occur from this oversized plaza. Polling has shown that at least 78 percent of the Brighton community objects to the supersizing of the plaza and special zoning deal. The current plaza will create severe traffic safety and congestion conditions.
Warnings from NYSDOT have gone unheeded, with the DOT stating that the traffic from this supersized plaza “…will likely have significant impact on traffic. Increased delays, long queue lengths and the potential for…gridlock may occur on and approaching Monroe Avenue.”
The town accepted an inadequate traffic study that did not accurately represent what is being built on the site. The study did not include the Amazon pick-up and delivery center, the Amazon lockers, the restaurant inside Whole Foods and the 18 other boutique retailers and two potential restaurant pads. The study was based on false assumptions about the true truck traffic for the plaza, which even Whole Foods, in a letter to the town, said was false, correcting what their actual truck traffic would be.
Much of the problem at hand is due to the supervisor allowing the developer to bypass standard zoning limits through a loophole known as “incentive zoning.” This special deal means the developer gets to bypass town zoning limits that protect the community. Under this special deal, the developer gets to bypass 22 permits and approvals that would otherwise be required, encroach by three acres into the adjacent residential zone, and build 150 percent more than the standard zoning limits.
“All we have asked for is that the town require the developer to follow the standard zoning process that applies to everyone else,” said Jacobson. “The 38,000 Brighton residents deserve better from their town supervisor and town board. It is absolutely unacceptable that our town supervisor has ignored the concerns of the overwhelming majority of the community, and is persisting with special zoning and tax deals for this developer. These shenanigans must stop.” said Jacobson.
A Freedom of Information request discovered a special tax deal that the town quietly gave the developer over the last four years. This favor has kept the assessment at $2,450,100, instead of the true value of $9.5 million which is what the developer paid for the property. This tax deal cost Brighton taxpayers over $750,000 in lost tax revenue. The town supervisor consistently claims the plaza will result in substantial extra tax benefits in the future, but at the same time is giving the developer hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax breaks.
Visit brightongrassroots.org for information.