Controversy over proposed Tim Horton's in Orchard Park

Restaurant owner purchased property six years ago and accuses town of placing obstacle after obstacle

Mike Baggerman
August 09, 2019 - 3:00 am

Proposed site of a Tim Hortons in Orchard Park. (WBEN Photo/Susan Rose)

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WBEN) - Construction of a Tim Horton's in the Town of Orchard Park has caused a controversy between the franchisee of the business and town officials that's brewed for the last six years.

Miranda Holdings President Ray Miranda, who owns eight Tim Horton's restaurants in the southtowns, purchased land at the corner of Armor Duells Road and Chestnut Ridge Park in the town back in 2013. His plan was to place another restaurant at the location. It hasn't happened, though. Today, the lot is vacant minus a patch of blacktop.

"The town has put roadblock after roadblock and has spent a lot of money, taxpayers money, of which I'm a taxpayer," Miranda told WBEN.

Miranda previously won a court battle related to a town law on drive thrus and environmental impacts statements in that area. An appeals court also sided against the town. Orchard Park now wants to ban drive thrus in the town's Architectural Overlay District, which includes the property owned by Miranda.

"Coincidentally, we weren't a part of (that district) until about six months after our petition," Miranda said. "They expanded that overlay district by one block to include us in that overlay district. From a timing standpoint, it's quite suspect."

He believes the drive thru ban is specifically targeting his business, which he's baffled by.

"I appealed to the town board (Wednesday) night to try and find out where on that planning board this is coming from," he said. "It's literally another (Tim Horton's) location, which we already have a location in Orchard Park. Based on that location, we have six or seven cars in our drive thru. This location, we'd have twice the cars in the stack. This is clearly not a traffic issue."

Miranda had two traffic studies that were done on the area and said the state DOT has no problems with the restaurant.

"Everybody who has touched this (traffic study) has said there was no issue," Miranda said. "There is something underlying here, which we have no idea."

Hal Fabinski, the Chairman of the Orchard Park Planning Board, disagreed and said there has been no official opinion yet on the traffic proposal from the New York State Department of Transportation. The Department of Transportation did not return our requests for a confirmation, though an e-mail given to former planning coordinator John Bernard in February said that the additional traffic "will not have a significant impact to the level of service on the State Highway System". The state, though, did recommend increasing the driveway opening from 65.70 feet to 74 feet and suggested that delivery trucks and garbage trucks work in "off-peak" times at the restaurant.

Fabinski said the town is not targeting Miranda's business interests and are, instead, worried about public safety.

"The question of drive thrus anywhere along this thoroughfare is being reviewed and considered with the possibility of taking the same action as Williamsville and East Aurora did and not allow them on the heavily traveled thoroughfare," Fabinski said. "...Mr. Miranda's situation is different. His property is at the corner of two state roads...Armor Duells is a divided highway and the DOT will not allow curb cuts into a divided highway because you can't go both ways. You can only go in one direction. So he's looking for curb cuts on Chestnut Ridge Road."

Amherst Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa said the rationale to ban new drive thrus on Main Street in Williamsville was because of the limited acreage and concern about not maximizing the tax value in the community. He said drive thrus don't increase the value of the property. He also noted the public safety concern.  

Fabinski said the issue is the drive thru and not the restaurant itself and said there's a concern about them across the nation. Orchard Park Town Supervisor said that the town is not discriminating against Miranda or Tim Horton's.

"It's that location that we have to consider," Keem said.

"People ride their bikes more into the village and people push baby strollers and people walk there," Keem said. "There's a bike lane now that wasn't there before. There's a lot of pedestrian traffic going through that intersection and, in particular, going through the east side of that property which would be on South Buffalo Road. The only access to a highway is the one side, the eastern side on the property...the state doesn't allow a curb cut there. You'd have all the traffic going in and out on that one part of the property. It's already backed up in the morning all the way up to...Jewett Holmwood Road...there's so much traffic."

Keem couldn't speak for the delays when Miranda purchased the property but acknowledged that Orchard Park has a reputation for taking their time on projects.

"If you talk to builders, they actually call us sometimes  'Torture' Park because we're so particular about how we do things and what we approve," Keem said. "What we want our community to look like is very important to us."

The supervisor stressed public safety but said a lot has changed in Orchard Park in the last six years since Miranda purchased the property.

Keem said he hasn't yet read the study produced by Miranda as of Thursday afternoon.

Miranda doesn't plan to back down despite the town's opposition. He said it's still a good location but that he's also fighting it on principles.

"The town is trying to outspend money to make me go away and to try and create laws and obstacles," Miranda said. "Three separate courts agreed with me on the last local law. I've appealed the the town supervisor and two of the gentleman on the board to do their due diligence. If they listen to the planning board and pass this law without grandfathering us in, there's case study that shows they will lose in court again. But this time...it will be for monetary damages. The monetary damages would be substantial."

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