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Le Roy mayor: Something else is bound to come along

By Mike Pettinella

Now that he’s had a couple days to regroup after the Le Roy Village Board’s rejection of a senior housing and building lot development on East Avenue, Mayor Greg Rogers said he believes that something else is bound to come along.

Rogers, speaking today by telephone, said he’s not quite ready “to take on another challenge” but did surmise that another project could come before the board in the near future.

“What usually happens in cases like this is that something else follows,” Rogers said. “Maybe it’s just single-family homes. We’ll have to see.”

On Wednesday night, lawmakers said no to a proposal by Batavia entrepreneur Eric Biscaro to construct a 30-unit duplex community for those 50 and over on a 20-acre parcel east of East Avenue and to develop 18 single-family building lots by extending East Avenue.

Three board members were against it and two, including Rogers, were for it.

“The whole thing took a lot of energy and life out of me,” the mayor said, noting that the plan was debated (at two contentious public hearings) and reviewed by lawyers, engineers and the board for more than seven months. “But, we still need to expand our tax base; my thought process hasn’t changed.”

Rogers said he tried to look at the project from the standpoint of both the village and Biscaro, who was prepared to invest several million dollars into the development, including the bulk of the cost of extending East Avenue.

“I was hoping for a win-win (situation),” he said. “Eric was a good candidate. He needed the PUD (Planned Unit Development zoning change for the senior apartments) to offset the cost of the road and single-family lots to make it a money-maker for him.”

At Wednesday’s board meeting, both Rogers and Trustee Jim Bonacquisti spoke highly of Poplar Lane resident Tom Frew, for his “professionalism” despite his opposition to the project. Frew distributed flyers and kept residents in the neighborhood abreast of the proceedings.

Contacted yesterday, Frew reiterated what he said from the beginning – that he wasn’t against development there but not in the form of an apartment complex.

“As (Trustee) Bill Kettle said the other night, ‘Strike while the iron is hot.’ That’s prime property. Let’s get some R-1 (Residential) down there,” Frew said.

He said he “buys into” the village board’s attempt at creating more taxable property, but would like to see something without a payment in lieu of taxes agreement for the potential developer.

“Eric needed a PILOT to do that and it greatly minimized for the first 30 years the amount of tax revenue (for the village),” Frew said. “Now, Eric would argue, rightfully so, that it's still more revenue than they're getting right now. But for the first 30 years, most of the tax revenue was going to come from the lots he was going to sell and people would build houses.”

Stormwater runoff was one of the reasons for opposition to the project, and that needs to be addressed, Frew said.

“There has to be some ways to stop this water from falling into the (Le Roy) golf course and Mercy Grove,” he said. “No matter what you put back there, you’ve got to deal with the water first.”

Rogers, who has 2 ½ years left on his term as mayor, said that engineers from two different firms determined that Biscaro’s plan would help to alleviate the current runoff situation.

“They both agreed that it would take care of part of it,” he said. “It would have been an improvement, but I guess that wasn’t good enough.”

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