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Whole Foods critics get lawyers 

Three groups opposed to a planned Whole Foods and retail plaza on Monroe Avenue say that they are prepared to sue the Town of Brighton if their concerns aren't addressed. Two of the groups represent people who live close to the project site, and the third represents anonymous Monroe Avenue business and residents.

All three groups say that the project is too big and will aggravate traffic on the densely developed corridor. Each group has its own attorney.

Daniele Family Companies proposed four buildings, totaling about 94,000 square feet of space on the north side of Monroe, between I-590 and Clover Street. A 55,000-square-foot Whole Foods store would go in roughly the same location as the now-closed Mario's restaurant on Monroe, which was owned and operated by the Daniele family. One of the other buildings would be a standalone Starbucks coffee shop with a drive-through.

A grocery store isn't a regularly allowed use of the property, and the density of the proposal far exceeds what's permitted under the town's zoning. In exchange for permission to deviate from those laws, Daniele Family Companies would make improvements to some public amenities. The company also says that the development would give the town a substantial bump in tax revenue.

The opposition groups want the developer to conduct a new traffic study; they say that the existing one is flawed. They hired the McFarland Johnson engineering firm in Canandaigua to review the developer's current traffic study, and the firm said that the study isn't adequate in terms of data and proposed mitigation measures.

The three groups also want the Town Board to route the project through the standard Planning Board and Zoning Board approval process, which requires the developer to get approval for each specific variation from town zoning laws.

"There should be no special deals for this developer," says attorney Daniel Spitzer of Hodgson Russ in Buffalo. Spitzer represents Save Monroe Ave., the opposition group made up of residents and Monroe Avenue businesses.

But a post on the Facebook page "Bring Whole Foods to Rochester, NY," dismisses the Save Monroe Ave. group. Spitzer "doesn't know anything about our hometown and will say whatever he is paid to say," the post says.

Daniele Family Companies compared the density of the proposed project to other Brighton developments on Monroe and determined that the Whole Foods project would be less dense than many of them, says Danny Daniele, the company's president.

He also cites data from the Brighton Police Department that shows a decrease in traffic accidents along the area of Monroe Avenue next to the site. The drop is the result of a reduction in parking lot entrances coming off of Monroe, as well as other safety engineering, he says.

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