Developer, mayor address criticism; stage is set for May 19 public hearing on Le Roy senior housing development
The Batavia businessman and Le Roy municipal leader at the forefront of a proposed 60-unit senior residential complex off East Avenue in the Village of Le Roy on Monday afternoon responded to objections about the project -- calling the development a quality, well-thought-out venture that will benefit tenants and the community at large.
Eric Biscaro, owner of Armor Building Supply in Batavia and several other construction material-related companies in and around Western New York, and Le Roy Village Mayor Greg Rogers returned phone calls from The Batavian after the posting of a story reporting concerns from LeRoyans Tom Frew and Jim Gomborone.
Biscaro is looking to construct 30 duplex patio home rentals on a 20-acre parcel that runs east of East Avenue. The plan also calls for the development and sale of eight single-family home building lots along an extension of that street.
Frew, a member of the Le Roy Town/Village Planning Board, said he was against the idea for several reasons, primarily that the duplex units are not compatible with homes in the East Avenue, Orchard Drive and Poplar Lane (where Frew lives) area; that there would be a significant increase in traffic; and that it would cost the village considerably to extend infrastructure on East Avenue to accommodate Biscaro.
Gomborone said he is worried about water running off the development into a stream and possibly flooding his Mercy Grove and Le Roy Country Club properties on East Main Street.
Noting that he read the story with their objections, Biscaro said he wanted to set the record straight about the project, which he said will likely be a $9 million to $10 million investment.
On the zoning issue:
“One question that came up is that we’re going to change an R-1 (Residential) District to a Planned Unit Development area. We won’t change anybody’s zoning, including the eight lots that are proposed on the front of this. Those eight lots will be an R-1 District. The only thing that requires a PUD is my senior housing proposal for the 20 acres there.
On extending East Avenue and connecting to South Avenue:
“The planning board’s concerns were that nobody wants to put in dead ends anymore or cul-de-sacs because people get trapped in there if something major happens down the street. What we will do – because we want the project to go through, and yes, we will be putting more people there – is to let me recondition that South Avenue road that’s there. It’s 18-feet wide and there’s a base in there right now. You could drive down in with a pickup truck right now.”
Biscaro said he met with Le Roy highway and fire officials and went over a plan where he would clear trees and brush, and would lay crushed stone over it to make it passable.
“I’m not going to pave it – I’m not a road builder – but I will make it very nicely passable for a fire lane that’s emergency use only, so no one is ever trapped there. We’ll have a great fire exit for all of East Avenue and those two side streets (Poplar Lane and Orchard Drive). I would think the residents would look at this as a nice addition, and hopefully, they’ll never need it, but if they do, it will be there.”
On the building lots:
“There will be eight new lots for sale for single-family homes. The village is looking for more places for younger people to buy, and this gives them eight more lots to do that. I would presume that those houses, when they do build, will be the highest assessed properties in the neighborhood. I don’t see them lower than the houses currently in the R-1 District, which are nice houses but they were built in the 1960s and ‘70s.”
He said the new houses and rental units must pass current building and energy codes.
“They are great buildings that we have built. If you look at Clinton Crossings in Batavia (a similar project that he put up about 15 years ago) the quality is fabulous. We use radiant floor heating instead of forced air. That will cost me 2 ½ times (more) than what it would cost if we put in forced air heat and air conditioning – and it’s way more efficient and way more comfortable. That’s why seniors love to stay in my place.”
On the possibility of decreased property values:
“If you go down Stringham Drive and Violet Lane (in Batavia, next to Clinton Crossings), homeowners there had the same concerns. We did a study on what my project did to them and the assessments over the 10 years that we were there went up 15 to 18 percent. Nobody got hurt. You can talk to anybody who backs up to us and they’ll all say that we are wonderful neighbors and nobody got hurt one bit.”
On increased traffic in the area:
“At Clinton Crossings, we have 40 units. Five of the residents don’t drive and only three have more than one car and more than one driver in the home. I don’t even have an average of one driver and vehicle per house, and they may go out only twice or three times a week.”
On flooding of Le Roy Country Club:
“I cannot go in there and have any more water leave that property when I’m done that leaves it right now. I have to submit a plan to the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) and they have to approve per their stormwater retention requirements. Once we get the topography, we will be able to design this plan and get the DEC to approve it. We certainly will (have) way less leaving there but whether it will be zero or not, I can’t say at this point. I have no question that we will develop a fine stormwater plan and leave it way better than it is right now.”
On the cost to the village:
“Mr. Frew is under the impression that the village is going to put in all of the water, sewer, gas and electric in there for me. I wish that was true. Down that street, anywhere that has anything to do with the street or my project, I put the water and sewer in. On the street, itself, when I get done with it and they inspect it and it’s all done to code, I give to the village – it’s theirs. But I put it in at my expense.”
Biscaro said the village is going to start with infrastructure work extending about 500 feet, taking in the first four building lots and the entrance to the development.
“I’m doing building lots for the first time because that’s what the village is looking for, but I don’t think they’ll be that profitable. The village never developed that street because it needs a sewer pump station with a backup generator in there, which is a very expensive item (probably around $60,000 to $80,000). But by putting those eight lots in and my 60 units, now we can afford it.”
In closing, Biscaro said the vast majority of rental units will be 1,200 square feet with one and a half bathrooms and an attached garage.
“For this one, I’m going to put in a couple that are a little bigger and have a two-car garage. People have asked me to do that. And I, myself, would like one of those and I’ll probably end up living there when this project is done.”
MAYOR: NOT DONE ON A WHIM
Le Roy Mayor Rogers said the village has done its due diligence and has a plan that will save money and, ultimately, expand the village’s tax base.
“We are not hiding the fact that we are investing in this road in an attempt to broaden our tax base,” Rogers said. “It’s a dedicated village street – an extension of East Avenue around to South Avenue over to South Street. We’re not going down South Avenue at this time – that will be for somebody else. We plan on blocking it off for emergency access only.”
Rogers said the village will get help from the Town of Le Roy and Genesee County on the road, and has reached out to the Genesee County Economic Development Center to see if it could assist.
“This wasn’t something that was done on a whim. We plan on doing the work ourselves and using CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program) money that we have set aside for a project like this – which is over $600,000. The developer is going to take care of all the infrastructure under the ground,” he explained.
“If we were to go to the end of the street and put it out for bid, Clark Patterson Lee (engineering firm) said it would be roughly $1.8 million to do it. This is our plan to get started with our own stuff to see how far we can go. We don’t plan on borrowing any money. Yes, we are going to spend resources that we have set aside for roads; that part is true.”
PROMOTING THE BUILDING LOTS
Rogers said he doesn’t see “consistency with the neighborhood” as an issue and is convinced that the project is a good investment for the village.
“The closest that the development is going to be is 100 from the back property line of any resident. It’s going to be the same thing that is on Route 33 in Batavia – Clinton Crossings,” he said. “And the building lots are what we’re really looking to promote; getting some new, single-family homes in that thing, along the street (east side of East Avenue).”
The mayor said it likely would take 10 years for the village to get a return on its investment, but looked beyond that to the increase in the village’s assessed value that would be applied against the school tax rate.
“This is something I thought needed to be done when I started in office,” Rogers added. “In a perfect world, let’s get it started; get down the street and have the developer come in and do South Avenue. The building lots over there would be absolutely gorgeous.
“Honestly, I’ve got three years left in office and I could have sat back and made my life easy and not done a thing. But I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.”
A public hearing on the project is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 19 at the Le Roy Village Hall at 3 W. Main St.