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October 10, 2018 - 2:20pm

Council president confident that rezoning of Liberty Street, Central Avenue parcels will go through

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, City Church.

Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski said he is confident that the Batavia Planning & Development Committee will come up with the best way to rezone parcels of the former St. Anthony’s Church/School campus on Liberty Street and Central Avenue in order to create a much-needed “community benefit” on the City’s south side.

Jankowski, speaking after Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, took the planning committee’s recent inability to pass a zoning change from its current R-3 Residential to the requested C-3 Commercial in stride, noting that the planners generally are in favor of it.

 “I think that the planning board, from my observation, somewhat recommended it, and I think it’s a great idea for the community to rezone it because that’s exactly what it’s been used for anyway,” Jankowski said. “So I think that rezoning it for its proper use so that we can relocate the youth center there and to put more programs over there is a great idea.”

At a PDC meeting on Sept. 18, the vote was two in favor, one opposed and one abstention, but three votes were needed for passage (one board member was absent).

PDC Chairperson Duane Preston said one committee member was adverse to “spot zoning” so the board is looking at its options, including the recommendation of an alternate zoning district or new district classification. He said the complete packet of information will be provided to council members prior to the next City Council Conference Meeting on Oct. 22.]

Jankowski said he wasn’t so sure that it was a case of “spot zoning.”

“If you look at it, it’s not really a spot … it’s not an island in the middle of a residential area,” he said. “It basically redraws the lines to create like a cutout for an area that’s pretty much a big parking lot, a school building, and a community center. It’s pretty much been treated like a commercial-type property all these years anyway, but it was exempt because it was a church, I believe. I could be wrong on that.”

He added that the parcels in question have become “more of a community center” and “it just makes sense to make it zone properly so they can now offer more services.”

“I think it’s the best thing that can happen there. Do something with it, get it fixed up and make it a community ‘benefit’ instead of a community ‘nothing’ because it’s improperly zoned. In the future, if the planning board recommends a special zone. By all means, if it fits, then why wouldn’t we do it?”

The property was purchased by City Church in 2016, and is hoped to become a destination for commercial ventures such as a dance school, art school and community education classes, as well as the future home of the Batavia Youth Bureau (Teen City).

The Rev. Martin Macdonald, pastor, was at the City Council meeting and said he thinks City Council is on board with the plan and he is “certainly appreciative of that.”

“I hate to go ahead until this is accomplished because I don’t want to talk about something that can’t be a reality until it is approved,” he said, “but we were just over there tonight, and there are 150 kids there right now.

“It’s something that was empty for nine years and is now full of life, and we just want to expand that. We’re just going to complement what’s already happening, and come alongside the City in any way we can, and do what we’re called to do – help people of all ages.”

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