ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A judge has ruled in favor of developers of a Whole Foods store planned for Brighton.

According to Daniele Family Companies, the store will now open this spring.

“I’m happy for our staff who has worked hard on this for years and I’m thrilled for the community who will benefit from the competition and additional tax revenue,” Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle said.

Wednesday’s ruling brings an end to the latest battle in a years-long war over the Whole Foods plan, with Wegmans-backed community groups opposing the grocery store project. Brighton Grassroots and Save Monroe Avenue claimed Wegmans supported their effort due to traffic concerns, not because the development would bring a new competitor to the area.

The judge previously waived 22 of the 23 lawsuits filed against the development, keeping only one complaint involving a trail behind the Monroe Avenue plaza.

Brighton Grassroots and Save Monroe Avenue argued the development would include a portion of the Auburn Trail, a former railroad bed used as a walking trail which runs through Brighton from the Rochester city line at Highland Avenue to the Pittsford town line near Clover Street.

In his verdict, Monroe County Supreme Court Justice J. Scott Odorisi says the small part of the trail that crosses site was not marked as a trail before the development was planned, and it crossed parking lots and driving areas on the property even before development there began.

He denied the effort to halt the development, ruling that the Auburn Trail “was not dedicated land” and would not face “substantial interference” due to the Whole Foods project.

“We are pleased after almost seven years the lawsuits have finally come to an end,” said Danny Daniele, president Daniele Family Companies. “The most riveting testimony came from Howie Jacobson when he broke down and admitted under oath that he lied to the public and was in fact paid by Wegmans to keep Whole Foods out of Rochester. We were astonished to learn just how much Wegmans has paid Howie and all the many lawsuits over these past four years; I believe it was in the millions of dollars. Although Wegmans will likely appeal the judge’s decision, Whole Foods is now free to open early this spring.  Nevertheless, we are happy in the end, truth and justice prevailed.” 

Brighton Grassroots leadership says they will appeal the decision.

“This verdict was always headed to an appeals court, regardless of who won,” said Howie Jacobson with Brighton Grassroots. “That’s where cases like this are decided once and for all.  We appreciate the Court’s time and effort in moving our case forward and we now look forward to quickly moving to the next phase of this litigation, where we believe we have very strong arguments.  Stay tuned!”

Other tenants in the plaza include Starbucks, WellNow Urgent Care, Fidelity Investments, and Jersey Mike’s Subs.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Read the verdict

Full Decision by News 8 WROC on Scribd