The residents of Brighton deserve a true picture of what is happening on Monroe Avenue as they sit in already heavy traffic every day and they look at the proposed plaza site.
Supervisor Moehle misused incentive zoning and is trying to allow an oversized plaza containing 18 retail stores, a 50,000 square foot grocery store, two restaurant pads and a Starbucks drive-thru, with a third of this project encroaching into the residential zone.
Moehle’s claim that this project is “only” an additional 14,000 square feet is misleading. Traffic density is based on the types of uses, not just square footage. A 50,000 square foot grocery store and drive-thru Starbucks, neither of which are permitted without this special deal, are extremely high traffic generators. The state Department of Transportation has concluded that this project will cause “increased delays, long queue lengths and the potential for … gridlock.” This will affect all of us. It is not just about square footage.
Similarly, Moehle’s claim that this will bring in $400,000 in tax dollars is very misleading. If the plaza were built to the standard limits under the zoning code, it would still generate an estimated $300,000-plus in taxes. So for the estimated additional tax dollars (only an additional $100,000, not $400,000), it will cost the community by way of major traffic issues, two new traffic lights, long queue times, rezoned residential land and the potential for NYSDOT to allow traffic flow onto Clover Street and Allen’s Creek, as well as increased bypass traffic on other streets.
If Moehle is so concerned with more taxes, why did he deliberately underasses the plaza properties at $2.5 million when the developer paid $9.5 million? He has already intentionally allowed the developer to avoid paying over $900 million in taxes, all so the developer can increase his profits at the expense of the residents. The simple truth is that we, the taxpayers, are subsidizing this project, and subsidizing the developer’s extra profits.
Nor is Moehle being honest when he says the town is getting meaningful “amenities” under his incentive zoning deal with this developer. The developer is getting $17 million in benefits from the town under Moehle’s deal, but the trail improvements and other “amenities” in return are “mitigation” measures that could have been required under regular zoning, without giving away $17 million in benefits to the developer. The town’s gross abuse of incentive zoning is at the crux of our lawsuit. Everyone should have to play by the same rules.
Yes, Brighton GrassRoots has many legitimate lawsuits pending. They were filed because the town officials did not listen to Brighton residents, did not listen to DOT, engaged in special dealing to benefit the developer at the expense of the residents and undermined our zoning protections. We did not ask for this task, but as citizens who love our town we could not sit idly by.
What’s the real answer to “When will Whole Foods open?” When the town officials are transparent and truthful with the residents. When they follow the law. If that had happened last year during the review and approval process, we’d be shopping right now!