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Town planners give go ahead to travel center and apartments proposed for Pembroke

By Howard B. Owens
michael metzger genesee county planning board 2023
Engineer Michael Metzer presents plans for a 144-unit apartment complex on Alleghany Road in Pembroke to the Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday night.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Business growth in Pembroke is keeping Clarence-based engineer Michael Metzger busy.

He had two projects on the County Planning Board agenda on Thursday night -- a new travel center at the Thruway interchange and a 144-unit apartment complex proposed for Alleghany Road.

Earlier this year, Metzger was the engineer who helped present plans for a $142 million distribution center that is currently under construction next to the Thruway.

"Some of it is, quite frankly, driven by STAMP," Metzger told The Batavian after the planning board meeting.  "The apartment project that was presented tonight, by all means. Between the STAMP facility, what's been going on there, what's anticipated to be happening there, and the construction going on now at the interchange that will result in hundreds of new people working in that area, that's what Mr. (Mike) Schmidt (the apartment complex developer) is hoping for and planning for with (the apartment) project."

STAMP is the WNY Science, Technology & Advanced Manufacturing Park under construction in the Town of Alabama. The site is a 1,250-acre industrial park. Plug Power is building a $290 million hydrogen production facility on 50 acres of the park. Last fall, Edwards Vacuum announced plans to build a $319 million manufacturing plant on the site.

The distribution center planned for the interchange is being built by Horizon Acres Associations of Spring Valley and Geis Companies, based in Ohio.

The 144-unit apartment complex is proposed for 8900 Alleghany Road, about halfway between Cohocton Road and Route 5.  Immediately to the south of the currently wooded 8.2-acre lot is a farm field and a long-abandoned gas station.  A single-family home is on the land to the north.  The property is zoned limited commercial and agricultural-residential.

The County Planning Board recommended approval of the project pending approval of an application for a water hookup, a DEC review of any possible endangered species, and consultation with the Corfu Volunteer Fire Department on the potential need for another access point to the property.

The complex will be built in phases of 24 units each, for a total of six 24-unit buildings.  There will also be some garages available to some tenants.

The property will include stormwater retention ponds, though Metzger, after learning the Town of Pembroke requires "ponds" to be fenced, is no longer going to call them ponds in his plans since they won't always contain water. 

"They will be designed in accordance with the state stormwater regulations, which means that they have a safety bench around them, a shallow area, so that if someone should inadvertently end up in it, which is highly unlikely, but if they do, they can simply walk out," Metzger said.

As for the travel center, Metzger, after the meeting, declined to say who the tenant for the new facility will be.  The developer is, again, Geis.

The travel plaza will include diesel and gasoline fuel pumps, a convenience store with a drive-thru, and a car wash.

The lot is 46.6 acres, and the majority of the land is federally protected wetlands. The travel center will sit in the center of the property, on higher ground and not wetlands.  The developed area will be 16.6 acres.

The high ground is currently farmland.

Murder Creek runs through the property.

The property is directly across Route 77 from the TA Travel Plaza, and current plans call for the four-land driveway (two lanes in each direction) to align with TA's driveway. 

In addition to the TA Travel Plaza, Flying-J and Speedway also both have locations at the 48-A interchange.

Asked about the attraction for the developer to an interchange that already has three places for travelers to stop for fuel and supplies and a bit of rest, Metzger explained that the fact there are other travel businesses already at the interchange is exactly what makes it appealing to another travel plaza business.  The more locations at an interchange, he explained, the more likely travelers are to choose that interchange as a place for a break.

"There are times when you have one type of business at an interchange, such as a restaurant or a gas station, and it gets passed by because there isn't any interest," Metzger said. "It's a human nature thing to be attracted to other activity. So when there is an interchange that already has some activity, even if it could potentially be considered competitors, it has a tendency to attract a lot more traffic."

michael metzger genesee county planning board 2023
Engineer Michael Metzger presents plans for a new travel plaza at the Thruway interchange in Pembroke to the Genesee County Planning Board on Thrusday.
Photo by Howard Owens.

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