Whole Foods Project Likely to Get Downsized and the Special Sweetheart Deal Reversed
Apr 20, 2021

Don’t be fooled by the construction work that has occurred to date. The Court has now told the Developer 4 times that any construction “is at its own risk”, meaning it will have to tear down any buildings that are built in violation of the law. The Court then told the Developer that the opposition groups have a “likelihood of success” of preventing the Developer from building past where the old pedestrian trail is located. This would cause the Project to be downsized from 10 to 7 acres, and keep all of the project in the commercial zone. This will be an incredible win for the hundreds of town citizens who have worked so hard to expose this improper, special sweetheart deal, and demand accountability from our Town officials. The Court also ordered an injunction preventing the Developer from interfering on the land where the old pedestrian trail is located while the lawsuit continues.

If we prevail, this will also likely prevent the site from being used as a warehouse/distribution hub for Amazon which would dump even more “gridlock” levels of traffic onto Monroe Ave. The Developer will still get a project, but one that is far more reasonably sized and close to what our code allows. No special deals in our Town, regardless of who you know or how well-connected you are.

It will also require the Developer to go back to the Town and re-do the zoning approvals. We believe the new zoning approvals should comply with our standard zoning protections, instead of the Developer getting a sweetheart deal. This is the current deal the Town gave the Developer:

Developer gets:

  • $17 +/- million in extra economic benefits from the oversized plaza
  • Town permission to create traffic loads the DOT stated will cause “a significant impact on traffic,” and “long queue lengths” and “gridlock”.
  • Likely a future Amazon warehouse delivery hub adding even more intensive traffic loads
  • A grocery store that is 2.5 times larger than the Code otherwise allows
  • 22 other stores that would otherwise not all be permitted at this site
  • Bypasses over 50 otherwise required permits/approvals/variances
  • A project that encroaches by 30% into the adjacent residential zone
  • High traffic drive-through not permitted by code

The Town has also already given the Developer an inexplicable under-assessment of taxes. For the last 5 years the developer has been assessed only an extra $100 on $6.5 million that it paid for additional land. When we buy a house we get assessed at what we paid for it. This under-assessment has been going on for 5 years – at a significant loss of revenue for the community. The community should not be subsidizing this project.

In return for the Town giving away all of the above, the Community (in addition to all the problems) gets:

  • An extra approximately $100,000 in taxes a year. (Supervisor Moehle quotes $400,000, but that is misleading as 75% of the taxes would be due if built to standard zoning limits.)
  • An additional 2 traffic lights and some traffic mitigation re-construction on Monroe Ave (valued by the Developer at $982,785) – but these are to benefit the Developer’s Project and the Developer’s properties across the street, and mitigate the problems the Developer is causing, and in any event could have been required under regular zoning without giving anything away or causing the problems the oversized plaza will cause.
  • Improvements to the Auburn Trail, bike racks, benches, (valued at about $300,000) – most of which benefit the Developer’s Project and in any event could have been required under regular zoning without giving anything away or causing the problems the oversized plaza will cause.

This was a fire sale, which harms the community and provide it with no meaningful benefit. The citizens of Brighton recognized that this sweetheart deal is not in the community’s best interest and therefore banded together, under 3 different opposition groups, and continue to challenge the Project.

We thank everyone for their continuing involvement and dedication. The support and response from Brighton Community has been enormous, and reminds us why this is such a good town in which to live.

We are now kicking off a social media campaign to raise awareness and communicate the facts of this project. We urge you to please comment on and share our posts on Facebook and Twitter to help your voice be heard and protect our community!

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