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Have an issue? Town planning board opens a slot for public comments at its meetings

By Mike Pettinella

The Town of Batavia Planning Board will be adding a “public comments” segment to its meetings, which generally are scheduled for the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

In response to Planning Board Member Don Partridge’s inquiry into the procedure for conducting an annual review of Area 51 Motocross, a businesses that has been granted a special use permit, the board Tuesday night agreed to give residents time at the beginning of each meeting to bring up pertinent issues.

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said he spoke with the town’s attorney and supervisor, and both men recommended that the planning board not schedule a public hearing for special use permit reviews, but to offer “an open period for any comments, questions or concerns.”

Lang said that yearly reviews of operations with special use permits are conducted along with the fire inspection of the facility. He then suggested to Chair Kathleen Jasinski to “get on your agenda as open for public comments on every agenda.”

Jasinski said she wouldn’t want to see 10 people unannounced at every meeting, but the board didn’t think there would be that many and felt it important to give a forum for town residents as all meetings are open to the public.

It was noted that the Batavia Town Board (as well as the Batavia City Council) includes a public comments period at their meetings.

Planning Board Member Paul Marchese suggested a five-minute public comments section at the start of their meetings.

“It’s really not going to be significantly taxing to any of us and we limit it to five minutes,” he said. “I think we really want to be as transparent as we can in these wonderful times that we live in. To me, I feel it is part of our duty to listen to the people that we represent.”

In other action, the planning board:

  • Tabled a site plan review and special use permit request by Batavia Solar LLC, which is seeking to install a ground-mounted solar system for the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. on R. Stephen Hawley Drive, across from Genesee Community College.

The board declared itself as the lead agency for the project and also approved a conditional negative declaration for the State Environmental Quality Review. Conditions on the SEQR center upon proper screening of the system from a neighboring couple’s home and from the roadway.

Planners advised Jim Taravella, representing LaBella Associates, to provide visualizations of the layout, showing five- and 10-year projections of the site based on screening growth, and asked the consulting firm to limit the number of utility poles.

  • Scheduled a public hearing for May 4 in connection with a special use permit referral from COR Development to add a drive-thru to an existing commercial building at 4222 Veterans Memorial Drive. The space, formerly used by Metro Mattress, will be the site of a new Chipotle restaurant.
  • Learned that on May 17, the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals will consider an area variance request by Dickinson’s Auto, 4028 W. Main Street Road, as part of a plan to construct a new truck storage building.

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