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Tops Never Stops Cutting Down Trees

Tops Market on Grant and Amherst Streets recently cut down six trees, even as neighbors complain the market has failed to plant and maintain as many trees as it has promised to do.

The effort by Tops Markets on the corner of Grant and Amherst Streets to install a gas station in the front of their plaza, right alongside the Scajaquada Creek bike and walking trail was tabled last week by the city’s Planning Board. As we reported a couple weeks ago, Tops wants to put in four pumps serving up to eight cars, three underground gas tanks with a capacity of 25,000 gallons, and a lit canopy along Grant Street, all packaged in their application as part of a larger effort to overhaul the market’s interior and exterior, though clearly the centerpiece of the makeover is the gas station. The supermarket’s attempts to get a gas station permitted there have been rejected twice before.

The tabling of this application happened at the request of Tops itself, though it is certainly a response to neighborhood opposition, which has followed two lines: First, the project requires a thorough environmental review, based on its proximity to the creek; second, Tops needs to fulfill any number of broken promises it made to the community about the interface between its plaza, the creekside path, and the rest of the neighborhood before it is allowed any further expansion.

Apropos the first objection, community activist Charley Tarr sent a letter to the city’s law department, the Common Council, and the Planning Board outlining seven specific conditions that should trigger a full Environmental Impact Study of the project, which Tops would dearly like to avoid. Among them: The project is located within a Coastal Area and Inland Waterway area, which, if affirmed, draws in the New York Department of State; the Buffalo Sewer Authority is under federal order by the US Environmental Protection Agency to comply with requirements of the Clean Water Act in relation to combined sewer overflows, which discharge into various Buffalo waterways, including the Scajaquada Creek, which draws in the EPA involved; the project site sits on the historic bed of Scajaquada Creek, which has been moved, and that raises geologic concerns; the site is near a recreational path that cost nearly $2 million, and near Buffalo State athletic fields; and the creek is a tributary to the Niagara River, which is an important drinking water source.

In regard to the second objection, consider this: In the last week, with no notice and seeking no permission, Tops has cut down six trees in front of its store. This despite that fact that, as we noted in our first report on this matter, Tops has failed to plant or maintain the number of trees they promised the neighborhood and the City of Buffalo long ago. They didn’t miss the mark by a couple of trees, but by nearly 30, or about half what they promised.

And now they’ve cut down six more.

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