City Church rezoning request receives positive feedback, moves forward
A proposal to rezone several parcels on the City’s Southside moved a bit closer to reality tonight by virtue of a public hearing during City Council’s Business Meeting at the City Hall Council Board Room.
City resident John Roach was the lone speaker during the public hearing and he offered a wholehearted endorsement of the plan to change the zoning from R-3 Residential to C-3 Commercial.
City Church leaders have asked the City to amend the zoning as they hope to develop commercial activities such as a dance school, art school and community education classes at the site, which incorporates six parcels on Liberty Street and Central Avenue.
In addition, church officials are in negotiations with the City to move the Batavia Youth Bureau from its current MacArthur Drive location to the St. Anthony’s campus for an afterschool venture to be called Teen City.
Roach urged council members to approve the proposal.
“Before (the former) St. Anthony’s (Catholic Church) was sold, the school was empty and they tried to let a few businesses in. But they were shut down due to zoning,” Roach said. “Now, City Church (is involved). The neighborhood could use a shot in the arm, and without the zoning, it will sit and sit just like before.”
Council President Eugene Jankowski noted that no one has spoken against the plan.
“So we had the public hearing today and there was only a positive comment – there were no negative comments,” he said. “City Council will weigh that towards the actual resolution to make the amendment to the zoning, and that will take place within probably the next business meeting, depending on other pieces of the puzzle that come together.
“All being said, if everything goes well I would expect that at the next business meeting, we would come to a vote on that zoning change.”
Council's next session is a Conference Meeting on Nov. 26, but there is a possibility that a Special Business Meeting could be called to vote on the rezoning issue.
In other action tonight, Council:
-- Scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. Nov. 26 to amend the City Code to make Thorpe Street a one-way street to alleviate traffic congestion and safety concerns. The proposed amendment calls for southbound traffic only on Thorpe between Watson and Maple streets.
In conjunction with the one-way idea, it has been recommended to allow parking on the west side of Thorpe Street between Watson and Maple and to leave the portion of Thorpe Street north of Watson as a two-way street with a stop sign and a parking ban on both sides.
-- Amended the police department budget to reflect the receipt of a pair of grants – the first being a $13,000 award from Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer’s office to offset the cost of body cameras for police officers and the second being an $11,374 award from the state Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee for extra patrols to enforce seat belt usage and address speeding issues, specifically in the downtown corridor.
-- Heard a report from City Manager Martin Moore concerning the status of roof repairs at the City Centre Mall. Moore said that the number of buckets collecting water has been slashed from 65 to only five, and that he intends to “get the contractor to come back until he finds them all.”
City Council authorized funds for a temporary fix of the roof this winter, with plans to fully repair the roof in the spring.
Jankowski mentioned that a doctor tenant in the mall was under the impression -- based on an inaccurate report in the local print newspaper -- that Council was not going to fix the roof and, consequently, has started a petition campaign.
“(Starting a petition) is a waste of time,” Jankowski said, assuring all those present that the City intends to make permanent repairs to the leaky roof.
-- Passed a resolution to serve as the lead agency to conduct an environmental review of a project to construct water and storm drainage improvements on Brooklyn Avenue and within Williams Park.
-- Approved requests to hold Christmas in the City and Parade from 2 to 7 p.m. Dec. 1, with the parade from Jefferson Avenue to Summit Street scheduled for 6 p.m., and for a Women’s March and Rally from Jackson Square to the City Centre concourse at 10 a.m. Jan. 19.
-- Appointed Kathryn Fitzpatrick to the Youth Board for a term extending to Aug. 31.