May 21, 2019 11:32 PM
GREEECE, N.Y. (WHEC) -- Plans for a large new store on Latta Road in Greece touched off skepticism and questions among neighbors and critics of the town's government.
"I'd like to cancel this project," exclaimed homeowner Guy Cutarella. "Latta Road is more rural. I'd like to keep it that way."
Cutarella declared his block of Clearwater Circle didn't need a big new neighbor but, just south and east of Clearwater Circle, in the 3200 block of Latta Road, a developer sought to buy a six-acre vacant lot now owned by the town for construction of a new Tractor Supply Company farm and landscaping store.
"To me, it looks like the town is doing it to make money," said James Leary, who also lived on Clearwater Circle.
"It was excess inventory," said Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich. Just like anyone in their own home, if you have something you're not going to use, you try and sell it if you can."
Controversy over the plan erupted on social media and in a recent meeting of the Greece planning board. The town bought the land as a possible location for its new police station, which was later built elsewhere, or for a possible expansion of its public works facility, then rezoned the property for commercial use along the Latta Road commercial corridor and planned to sell it for $750,000.
Critics questioned the rezoning, the price, whether the store could go somewhere else, and even the town's financial state.
"To me, it just looks like there is a lot of unanswered questions," said Leary. "When we ask questions, we are getting conflicting stories."
The uproar prompted a rare, lengthy letter and Facebook post from the town declaring the deal was proper and that Greece couldn't dictate where any legal business in compliance with zoning regulations could build or what kind of business could go into a legally purchased piece of property.
"It's all politics," declared Reilich, "because the individuals that are going around misinforming the residents are running for office."
Officials pointed out the town has already refused to sell the developer the western side of a 12-acre tract it owned but instead insisted the store development be on the eastern side of the lot where it would be farther away from the homes of Clearwater Circle and separated from them by forest.
That would still be less separation than guy Cutarella hoped for.
"When I originally moved up there, I was under the impression it was going to be somewhat forever wild," he said. "That's one of the reasons I moved into that area."
"You know the only ones who ever use the term 'forever wild' are realtors," Reilich sighed. "There is no designation, anywhere in the state, of 'forever wild.' That's a misnomer that I wish people would stop using it."
Updated: May 21, 2019 11:32 PM
Created: May 21, 2019 11:20 PM
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