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County Planning Department pushes 'gas backwards' idea for Byrne Dairy's Route 63 proposal

By Mike Pettinella
master plan
Master plan for a parcel along Lewiston Road (Route 63) in the Town of Batavia shows a mix of commercial (orange) and residential (green) sites. 

Due to a lack of a quorum on Thursday night, recommendations by the Genesee County Planning Department staff – and not the county Planning Board – have been issued for the six referrals that were on the agenda.

The most notable of the applications was one from Sonbyrne Sales Inc. (Byrne Dairy), which is seeking a special use permit and site plan review for a new convenience store and gas station on Lewiston Road (Route 63) in the Town of Batavia.

Planning Department Director Felipe Oltramari, in an email sent after last night’s meeting to Batavia Town Planning Board members, indicated that he was recommending disapproval of Sonbyrne Sales’ proposal because it doesn’t fit well with the town’s decision to tag that large parcel near the First United Methodist Church as a Certified Smart Growth Reserved Development Area.

Furthermore, in the email, he noted that the planning department’s recommendation was “non-binding” because there was no quorum (four planning board members were present and five were needed to vote) and that all of the applications would now go back to the appropriate town/village planning boards.

“Since we didn’t have a meeting, the local boards can act within 30 days after sending us their referrals," Oltramari said. “We will not meet again in 30 days, so they don’t have to wait that long.”

In his explanation for disapproval of the Byrne Dairy referral, Oltramari wrote that “the master plan agreed to between the Town of Batavia and Genesee County had the intention of creating a pedestrian friendly environment.”


dairy site plan

Oltramari pointed out that Byrne Dairy’s current proposal has the gas pumps in front of the building, along Route 63 (see site plan above) and that conflicts with the town’s master plan for that location.

He said the planning department has provided the town with an example of an “inverted gas station” with pumps behind the building “to illustrate the type of site configuration that would allow a convenience store/gas station to closely conform to what was envisioned for the site.

Earlier this week, he provided some background in a phone interview with The Batavian.

“In March of last year, the Town of Batavia made a development area certification application to the County for the entire field between the Thruway and Veterans Memorial Drive,” he said. “That field was not originally a Development Area in the County Smart Growth Plan. It was a piece of farmland that we wanted to protect.

“The town asked for it to be included as a development area, and it was approved with the caveat that it be reserved for pedestrian-oriented mixed-use development, something different than the car-oriented development on Veterans Memorial Drive.”

Oltramari said “the vision for this area” included property behind County Building 2 on West Main Street Road and the Batavia Town Hall all the way to the Thruway – a proposal called “Townville.”

“The certification of the development area would allow for any use to automatically get water hookups, that's what the Smart Growth really regulates. Outside of development areas you have to get permission to get a water hookup; it is not guaranteed,” he explained.


He went on to say the town’s action was triggered by Tractor Supply's desire to move from East Main Street Road to the west side of Batavia.

“They wanted the parcel, owned by Call Farms, with automatic water hookups,” he said.

Oltramari said the Calls sponsored the project and the master plan was created with the assistance of the Town of Batavia engineers and County Planning (see the green and orange rendering by Dynamic Engineers at top). Their proposal was for mixed uses, including two story Main Street buildings with residential in the upper floor, and a residential cul-de-sac with townhouses or other such housing.

Earlier this month at a Batavia Town Planning Board meeting, Christian Brunelle, senior executive vice president of Sonbyrne Sales, Inc., presented the company’s plan to develop the parcel in front of Tractor Supply.

Byrne Dairy wants to build a traditional gas station with parking and pump islands in front. But that doesn’t fit the master plan that was used to certify the development area.

“The master plan calls for the building to be upfront and parking to the rear,” Oltramari said, adding that a future road, to be known as Rumsey Road, would run from behind Home Depot through the new development to Route 63.


gas backwards

Oltramari said that the inverted gas station approach would provide a “nice little gateway” into the development.

“The building would be up front and the pump islands behind it (see rendering above). The architect that drew it up called it ‘gas backwards,’” he said.

“I think to have a nice building instead of a gas station up front in that corner (along Route 63) would make that whole development look better in the future. It would also have the added benefit of buffering current and future neighboring residential properties from the sights and smells related to the gas sales part of the operation.”

The Byrne Dairy proposal now will go back to the Batavia Town Planning board for consideration, likely in early April since the board’s March 19 meeting has been cancelled.

In other action, the planning department recommends approval of a special use permit for Gordon and Denise Linsey to operate a coffee shop at 6520 Knowlesville Rd. in the Town of Alabama.

The Linseys said they want to renovate the space that has been used as a gift shop for the past 10 years at the former St. Patrick’s Church. Their application states that they will offer deli/breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, soup and smoothies in addition to coffee and beverages. 

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