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Town planners field comments on biogas, racetrack projects; hear update on Byrne Dairy proposal

By Mike Pettinella

An employee of the company that owns and operates the Synergy Biogas manure digesting facility in Wyoming County on Tuesday night downplayed concerns over potential odors from a proposed renewable gas facility at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on the east side of Batavia.

Speaking at the Batavia Town Planning Board meeting at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road, Melissa Franklin, technical sales & services representative, responded to local resident Wayne Nichols’ belief that the Genesee Biogas plant would cause a stink, literally.

“This is a different plant than Synergy. This will have camlock fittings and a different air system, and it will be confined,” Gilbert said. “Synergy is very different than this one.”

Nichols said he owns farmland near the site of the project but does not live in the area. He said he is looking out for those who live on Batavia Stafford Townline Road and others in the vicinity.

“I’ve worked in the ag industry for 70 years and there is no such thing as a confined system,” he said at the public hearing.

Lauren Toretta, president of CH4 Biogas, which is seeking a special use permit to build the facility, said the plan is to construct “an environmentally and economically beneficial project.”

She said having a renewable gas facility closer to O-AT-KA Milk Products, HP Hood and Upstate Niagara will mean trucks won’t have to drive as far to dispose of the waste.

CH4 Biogas proposes to construct and operate a plant consisting of two digesters, a gas storage tank and associated equipment for the purpose of digesting organic wastes to produce renewable natural gas and/or electricity and heat.

A utility corridor consisting of waste force main lines, electrical lines and water lines will run from each of the main waste stream plants to the facility.

Toretta said a small portion of the waste stream will be received by truck delivery.

Nichols said his wish is that they find a different location, farther from the city limits.

“It’s not as clean as we think,” he said. “There are sometimes when I come in on Ellicott Street into Batavia, if the wind is out of the east, when you get down by the old Sylvania plant, and the smell coming from O-AT-KA is putrid. It stinks.”

In other action, the board:

-- Conducted a public hearing concerning a special use permit application from Jason Bonsignore of East Coast Speedway to open and operate a racetrack on the former Polar Wave property at 3500 Harloff Rd. in a commercial/recreation district.

Bonsignore cited his company’s “good track record” over 28 years and promised a family-friendly facility that would “fill a niche” for dirt bike and go-kart enthusiasts. While several people supported his project, a woman and man who live nearby said they objected to the amount of noise and the increase in traffic.

The former National Hockey League player went on to say that his track will be quieter than the neighboring Area 51 motocross track and will operate on one night a week for practice, on Fridays until 11 p.m. and, occasionally, on Saturdays.

-- Received an update on the Byrne Dairy project on Lewiston Road, near the First United Methodist Church, from Christian Brunelle, senior executive vice president of Sonbyrne Sales, Inc.

Brunelle said he has revised the site plan to address the Genesee County Planning Department’s recommendations focusing on walkability and the positioning of the building.

He said changes include shifting the building to the south, toward the new Rumsey Road; moving parking spaces, adding picnic tables on a concrete patio; adding a sidewalk, and moving the stormwater drainage to the east, behind the store.

Brunelle also said the company understands that the New York State Department of Transportation is requiring a left turn lane into the property for vehicles heading south on Route 63 and that Byrne Dairy will install a white “greeting fence” along Route 63.

The proposed dairy would be situated in a development that will include a new Tractor Supply store.

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