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    Optima Fuel Brand Growing

    Sunoco, Wal-Mart get tentative approval for a gas station in Seneca Falls, N.Y.

    SENECA FALLS, N.Y. -- The town Planning Board approved a request by Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for a special-use permit to build and operate a Sunoco gas station under the Optima brand. Its approval, though, is simply a recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which has the final decision. A final vote is expected to be approved next week, according to the Finger Lakes (N.Y.) Times.

    Sunoco and Wal-Mart announced plans to develop a fuel brand exclusively for Wal-Mart parking lots in the Northeast in 2000. Wal-Mart has similar agreements with Murphy Oil Corp., operating under the Murphy banner, in the Southeast and Tesoro Petroleum Corp., under the Mirastar brand, on the West Coast.

    Zoning officer Steven Turkett said the site of the proposed Seneca Falls store is compatible with allowing gas stations as special use.

    Sunoco and Wal-Mart currently operate a handful of Optima gas station in northern New York. The two companies have expressed plans to build as many 100 new units per year. The Seneca Falls store involves a 20-year lease by Sunoco, which will post signs matching the Wal-Mart color scheme. The station will be accessed from the Wal-Mart parking lot and is designed to cater to Wal-Mart customers and not attract off-road traffic.

    Shoppers also will be able to purchase gift cards in the department store that will allow them a 3-cent-per-gallon discount. The initial discount, for a limited time, will be 5 cents.

    Two 15,000-gallon underground tanks would be installed in the northwest corner of the site and there will be lighting throughout and under the canopies, the report said.

    On Aug. 8, the Seneca County Planning Board also gave its approval to the proposal with stipulations Town Engineer William Southern Jr. said have been addressed, including a coordinated State Environmental Quality Review that will be granted a negative declaration Monday, meaning the project is not expected to adversely affect the environment.

    John Zeidler, project manager for Sunoco, expects the facility to be open by the end of the year.

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