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July 9, 2021 - 9:24am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Great Lakes Cheese, Town of Le Roy, GCEDC.

After discussing the possibility of selling 2.8 acres of their property on Lake Street Road (Route 19) to Great Lakes Cheese, Chris and Gina Stella said they have decided to retain control of that parcel.

Speaking after Thursday night’s public hearing on rezoning 185 acres next to the Le Roy Food & Tech Park, Chris Stella said he was approached by a representative of the Genesee County Economic Development Center about selling some of his land.

“Joe Macaluso stopped over and said that Great Lakes Cheese might have some interest in the 2.8 acres, so I talked to my wife, Gina, about it,” Stella said. “He (Macaluso) said that they would offer the same thing that they we’re offering everybody else, but I’ll be honest with you, nobody wants it in their backyard – and I didn’t either.”

Stella said he didn’t blame other nearby property owners for entering into potential land deals with the Ohio-based manufacturer, which has been identified as inquiring into the Town of Le Roy site as a location for a new $500 million processing plant.

“But, do I want it? I never wanted it. We talked about it a little bit,” Stella added. “Their deal was … that they wanted to put up a berm to protect us from it, so we really didn’t have to see anything. But, my attorney actually got us a map of what they wanted to do, and I think the deal closer for us was that they wanted to put in a deceleration lane starting right in my front yard.”

(Town Supervisor James Farnholz said the deceleration lane topic is “conjecture” at this point, and that the state Department of Transportation would have the final say on traffic issues.)

Stella said different people have told him that anywhere from 85 to 120 trucks per day would come in and out of the plant, and that they run at all hours.

“All day and all night I’m going to be hearing Jake brakes,” he said. “That was a deal closer for us. At least if we have that 2.8 acres of land, we can kind of do what we want to do with it. They can do whatever they want. We decided to hold on to it.”

When asked how much was offered, he said, “They didn’t offer us anything. I heard that it was around $20,000 an acre, but I’m not sure about that. I heard that number floating around somewhere.”

July 9, 2021 - 6:40am

New York State Agricultural Districts, especially in counties such as Genesee where farming is vital to the local economy, are significant geographic regions that enable farmers to work with their municipalities to best serve their communities.

That was a key point of a recent webinar conducted by Jeff Kehoe and Kathleen Tylutki, farmland protection specialists with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Division of Land and Water Resources, Agricultural Protection Unit.

Agricultural Districts are defined as locally initiated mechanisms for the protection and enhancement of agricultural land as a viable segment of the local and state economies.

“Back in 1971-72, the ag district program was developed to help stem the tide of suburbanization moving into the countryside,” Kehoe said. “It’s really not a matter of the farmer and the department; there’s a lot more to this. In New York State, towns have local authority and they have the ability to control what happens in their town and jurisdiction.”

In 2020, there were 165 Agricultural Districts in 53 counties in New York, consisting of 26,227 farms and accounting for 9,149,836 acres.

“It’s a very successful program and each year we have been growing,” Kehoe reported. “And in light of recent events, hopefully we will see more and more properties enroll in the ag district to better accommodate agriculture and allow farmers to scale up their operations without too much scrutiny from the town.”

In Genesee County, according to Planning Director Felipe Oltramari, there are four ag districts, covering 6,200 parcels and 203,000 acres.

“The number of acres is about two-thirds of the total land area in the county,” Oltramari said.

The Genesee County districts are as follows (see map below):

District 1 (green) – Darien, Alexander, Bethany and a bit of Pembroke, Batavia and Stafford.

District 2 (blue) – Alabama, Oakfield, Elba and northern parts of Pembroke and Town of Batavia.

District 3 (aquamarine) – Le Roy, Pavilion and parts of Stafford and Bergen.

District 4 (red) – Bergen, Byron and small parts of Elba, Stafford and Le Roy.

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Oltramari said enrollment into an ag district is free and voluntary, and that individual district reviews occur every eight years from the district’s creation date.

“This process is undertaken on behalf of the Genesee County Legislature by the County Department of Planning,” he said. “During review, landowners within the district boundaries may enroll or withdraw property from the district. Only entire parcels may be included or excluded.”

Kehoe said that “the power of this program is given to the counties because local (town, village) government has so much control over what happens in their towns.”

“If you are a farm operation – which is a technical definition in our law – and your parcel is enrolled in the agricultural district, the circumstances are that it’s modified,” he said. “Your local laws are modified if you’re a farm operation enrolled in an ag district.

“That still means that you must comply with all local laws and permits and applications and all the local processes, however, when you’re in the ag district, the town is essentially on notice to streamline or facilitate your applications, minimize any fees and, hopefully, work with you to be as timely as possible and least burdensome as possible.”

Agricultural Districts are overseen by a county’s Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board – an 11-member committee under the direction of the county legislature. It is tasked with advising the legislature in matters relating to establishment, modification, continuation, or termination of agricultural districts.

The AFPB also issues recommendations to the legislature in regards to the Agricultural District Annual Enrollment and Smart Growth Plan revisions.

“It’s a different level of government that has oversight and can weigh in on ag issues,” Kehoe said.

In Genesee County, current AFPB members are Donn Branton, chairperson, farmer; Janice Beglinger, Agriculture Outreach educator Cornell Cooperative Extension; Steven Boldt, farmer; Kevin Andrews, director Real Property Tax Services; Christian Yunker, County legislator.

Also, Marcia Hirsch, agribusiness; LuAnne McKenzie, farmer; Dennis Phelps, Soil & Water Conservation District chairperson; Janette Veazey-Post, farmer; Tim Welch, Soil & Water Conservation technician, and Oltramari.

The AFPB, per Agriculture and Markets Law 25AA 302(c), shall render expert advice to the county legislature relating to the viability of lands to be enrolled in the agricultural district, including advice as to the nature of farming and the relation of farming in such area to the county as a whole.

Oltramari said specific recommendations could pertain to the proper placement of fire hydrants and water lines to not adversely affect farm operations, and the periodic reviews of the district itself.

Kehoe said that Right To Farm Laws provide additional protection for farmers, and come in three forms:

  • Agriculture Districts Law, Article 25AA, Section 308;
  • County laws that enact public policy supportive of agriculture;
  • Local laws that typically support agriculture and Article 25AA and, sometimes, utilize the services of an ag mediation panel and/or require a statement on building permits.

According to Section 308, The Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets is authorized to issue opinions regarding whether certain agricultural practices are sound. Any practice that is determined to be sound does not constitute a private nuisance when an action is brought. In a nuisance suit where a farming practice is determined to be sound, this section ensures that the plaintiff will incur any fees and other expenses related to the defense. This section protects farmers from paying costly legal fees to defend their operations against frivolous nuisance actions.

Section 305-A of the Agriculture Districts Law “protects farmers against local laws that unreasonably restrict farm operations located within an agricultural district,” Tylutki said.

This section of the law calls for coordination of local planning and land use decision-making with the agricultural districts program, and ensures that local zoning, comprehensive plans and land use plans will not unreasonably restrict or regulate farm operations within an agricultural district unless there is a threat to public health or safety.

Tylutki said the keys for valid objections to local law infringement are that the parcel is enrolled in an ag district, it is the site of a legitimate farm operation, and that the farmer has exhausted all local administrative remedies before appealing to the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.

“Apply for it (protection status), get the denial and then the Department (of Agriculture) has something to react to,” she said. “So, then we actually have a hard denial to say to the town what is being unreasonable in consulting with your county AFPB and other local resources.”

She noted that an ordinance may appear reasonable in an abstract, but it could be unreasonably restrictive or regulate a particular farmer. All referrals are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Tylutki also spoke about farm stands and similar retail activities on ag district operations.

The rule of thumb for these ventures is that at least 51 percent of the agricultural crops, livestock and livestock products sold, on an annual basis, must be from the farm’s own production. Furthermore, the activity must be used as part of the direct marketing strategy of the farm operation and the primary purpose of the activity must be to sell the farm’s products/services, not to serve as a recreational use of the land.

Oltramari said that a prime example is the retail store and Community Supported Agriculture business at Porter Farms in Elba.

“They just opened a retail store and they have had the CSA for quite some time,” he said, explaining that a CSA allows citizens to purchase a membership and receive a weekly bag of produce from the farm.

“In an ag district, the farm is permitted to do this through the right-to-farm protections,” Oltramari said. “This is the same as wind or solar being used to offset utility costs of the farm. It also protects farmers against nuisance liability as long as the farmer is following the New York State ag district guidelines.”

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Additional resources on Agricultural Districts and related topics can be found at the following:

Agricultural Value Assessment Program, Department of Taxation and Finance
https://www.tax.ny.gov/research/property/assess/valuation/agindex.htm
Jeremy Kergel [email protected]

Building Standards and Codes, Department of State:
https://www.dos.ny.gov/DCEA/

Local Government Services, Department of State
https://www.dos.ny.gov/lg/

Farm Brewery/ Cidery/ Wineries etc. State Liquor Authority
https://sla.ny.gov/

Industrial Scale Solar Arrays: NYS Solar Guidebook
https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All%20Programs/Programs/Clean%20Energy%20Siti...

Agricultural District Mapping Program, Cornell University IRIS (Institute for Resource Information Sciences)
https://iris.cals.cornell.edu/extension/agricultural-districts/
Diane Ayers [email protected]

Publication: Planning for Agriculture
https://farmlandinfo.org/publications/planning-for-agriculture-in-new-yo...

July 9, 2021 - 12:57am
posted by Billie Owens in news, batavia, scanner, accident.

A car has struck a parked car on Harvester Avenue, just south of Colorado Avenue. City police are on scene with city fire.

Mercy medic #3 is told to respond in nonemergency mode. "It'll probably be a sign-off," says command.

Two flatbed tows are needed.

Police are out with the driver now.

UPDATE 12:58 a.m.: Mercy medic #3 is on scene.

UPDATE 1:02 a.m.: Command asks dispatch to change the address to 130 1/2 Harvester Ave.

July 8, 2021 - 4:48pm

From the National Weather Service office in Buffalo:

A severe thunderstorm warning remains in effect until 5:15 p.m. EDT for Southeastern Orleans and Central Genesee counties.

At 4:30 p.m. EDT, a severe thunderstorm was located over Oakfield, or near Batavia, moving east at 35 mph.

Up to 70 mph wind gusts pose a hazard, according to radar. Expect considerable tree damage. Damage is likely to mobile homes, roofs, and outbuildings. Locations impacted also includes Darien Lakes State Park, Attica, Corfu, Elba, Alexander, East Bethany, and Interstate 90 near exit 48.

For your protection move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a building. Torrential rainfall is occurring with this storm, and may lead to flash flooding. Do not drive your vehicle through flooded roadways.

UPDATE 4:54 p.m.: A low-hanging cable wire and possibly a tree are reported down in the roadway in Elba in the area of 4119 Lockport Road. A first responder says the roadway is partially blocked. The roadway will be shut down at Route 98 and Lockport Road. Spectrum is notified; no ETA.

UPDATE 5 p.m.: The Elba chief says the cable line has been cleared; now removing other debris before reopening roadway.

July 8, 2021 - 3:30pm

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Photo: 400 Towers at 400 E. Main St.

It can be said that housing authorities such as those under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provide safe and affordable dwelling places for millions of low-income people in need.

But it also is true that these quasi-nonprofit enterprises benefit from their tax-exempt status, giving private landlords cause to question the fairness of the framework by which they exist.

You can draw a line from the preceding statements to the Batavia Housing Authority, a four-location government agency that offers HUD-subsidized apartments for senior (62 and older) and disabled tenants.

The BHA, which by New York State law is exempt from paying property taxes, receives subsidies from HUD to bring the monthly rent closer to the market rate and also receives periodic federal grants to help with renovations and maintenance across its buildings.

Executive Director Nathan Varland, during an interview with The Batavian last week at his office at 400 Towers, said he sees the Batavia Housing Authority as a much-needed public housing option considering the increasing number of senior citizens and permanently disabled residents who are struggling financially, especially as costs increase in a high-tax state such as New York.

AVERAGE RENT COLLECTED: $358

“The Batavia Housing Authority exists to provide safe, healthy and affordable housing for people who cannot realistically afford market rent,” he said. “The average rent collected is around $358 right now, and the federal subsidy is about $182 per apartment. Those amounts cover our monthly expenses, but our aging infrastructure requires some capital investment for the organization to be viable long-term.”

Recently, the BHA received a federal capital grant for $377,000 for renovations, including electrical systems and elevators, Varland said.

“Our margins are very low and it’s hard to stay efficient,” he said. “The capital grants that we apply for and (periodically) receive are vital. We wouldn’t be able to stay in business without them as half of our people can’t use the stairs.”

Varland describes the BHA as a “standalone government entity” that has entered into a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement with the City of Batavia that enables the housing authority to pay about 75 percent less in property taxes than what a nonexempt organization would pay.

He said the PILOT has been in force for many years, likely back to when the buildings were finished in the early 1970s.

FOUR LOCATIONS IN THE CITY

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Photo: The Terraces at 193 S. Main St.

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Photo: Edward Court at 15 Edward St.

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Photo: The Pines at 4 MacArthur Drive.

The buildings of the Batavia Housing Authority are as follows:

  • 400 Towers at 400 E. Main St., (photo at top), a high-rise facility with 148 apartments over eight floors for senior citizens and people with permanent disabilities. Most of these are studio and one-bedroom apartments.
  • The Terraces at 193 S. Main St., 26 apartments.
  • Edward Court at 15 Edward St., 13 apartments.
  • The Pines at 4 MacArthur Drive, 10 apartments.

The apartment complexes on South Main, Edward and MacArthur are three- and four-bedroom townhouse-style units for households of three or more people and, currently, all are full, Varland said.

Varland said the BHA owns its own properties with HUD having a controlling interest. Monthly rent is based on 30 percent of a tenant’s adjusted annual income (or 10 percent of the gross income), with maximum income limits depending upon household size.

Current rents for studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments include cable and utilities, and range from $490 to $675. He said that some people with little or no income pay as low as $50 per month in rent.

Three- and four-bedroom apartments are priced at $593 and $611, respectively, with a utility allowance deducted for those on subsidized rent.

PILOT AGREEMENT IN FORCE

According to the New York State law, municipal housing authorities that are project financed or aided by the federal government or municipality, not by the state, are exempt from property taxes but can be subject to special assessments, levies or PILOT agreements.

The law reads as follows:

Payments in lieu of taxes -- None required. However, if payments in lieu of taxes are fixed or agreed upon by the municipality, such payments may not exceed the taxes last levied on the property prior to its acquisition by the MHA unless such project is federally financed or aided and the federal government has consented to a greater amount.

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In the case of the BHA (actually classified as the City of Batavia Housing Authority by the Genesee County treasurer’s office), the PILOT paid to the City – and then disbursed to the county and Batavia City School District – is approximately one-fourth of the amount paid by a nonexempt organization.

Photo at right: BHA Case Manager Heather Klein, left, with 400 Towers resident Brenda Boyce.

For the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2020, the BHA sent a check for $64,879.74 to the City clerk-treasurer -- $14,638.65 to the city, $15,409.33 to the county and $34,831.76 to the school district. That’s 23.5 percent of the full amount of $276,539 based on the assessed value of the properties ($6.5 million) and the total tax rate of $42.54 per thousand of assessed valuation.

“We pay a PILOT every year and that’s an agreement when the housing authority was formed,” Varland said, noting that the buildings were finished in 1970 and 1971. “The formula is based on what we take in and some of our utility expenses that come off. It’s not insignificant – about 5 percent of our annual budget -- but it’s also not based on the full value of the properties.”

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said he looks at it as a “glass half full” proposition.

“The pay a PILOT but, at the same time, they are a quasi-governmental nonprofit-type agency. So, if you think about it, other nonprofits might not pay any property taxes – churches, GCASA, Cornell Cooperative Extension,” Landers said. “I’m glad they’re paying something rather than nothing at all.”

BOARD OF DIRECTOR OVERSIGHT

While the BHA properties are not owned by the city, the city manager does appoint citizens to a board of directors that provides oversight.

“We advise Nate in the direction we think is best for the housing authority,” said BHA Board Chair Brooks Hawley, who has been part of the committee for about 10 years. “At our monthly meetings, we look at the budget, address resident concerns and come up with solutions to any issues as a team.”

A current county legislator and former City Council member, Hawley said that since the rents are less than market rate – even with the subsidies, the grants from HUD “help us out with things like elevators and big projects that (private) landlords usually don’t have in a residential home.”

“We have four properties and we try to keep them up and not have them depreciate to where we’re putting huge money into it.”

The current board consists of a chairperson (Hawley), vice chair (Roger Hume), treasurer (Tammy Hathaway), secretary (Teresa Van Son), City Council liaison (Al McGinnis) and two residents (Don Hart and Jason Reese).

Varland said that the board frequently deals with compliance and regulatory matters, and sets policy that aligns with regulations at all levels of government.

“Public housing authorities are some of the most regulated agencies around,” he said. “Regulations are in place for a reason, but it does require a lot of work to keep up – especially with a small staff like ours.”

PRIVATE LANDLORDS: IS IT FAIR?

The Batavian contacted two property owners with numerous houses and apartments in Genesee County, and both agree that the Batavia Housing Authority, with its subsidies and improvement grants, have the upper hand when it comes to finding qualified tenants.

“It’s tough. I understand that there is a need for supportive housing for a lot of tenants, based on income and need, but for us, there’s no PILOT or anything else on our properties,” said Duane Preston of Preston Apartments LLC.

“We pay the full tax amount and what hurts the smaller guy is when they (BHA) get $200,000 per apartment for renovations – cabinets, bathrooms. We would love to come into that kind of money for our properties, but we can’t as we’re based on market rate rent.”

Preston said that he does have tenants that get reduced rent based on their Section 8 status (where they submit a voucher for about a 10 percent discount off the average rental market rate for the area).

“The maximum for a one bedroom in that case is $710 with everything included, $850 for a two-bedroom and $1,050 for a three bedroom,” he said. “They just raised the rates on all of those.”

He said that it takes about four months of operations for the average landlord to cover taxes on the property – “and that’s before you figure in your mortgage interest, water bills, utilities and other things that you have to cover.”

When told that the BHA is a standalone entity that owns its properties, Preston asked, “Then why are they getting a tax break? Why doesn’t everybody get a tax break then? I thought it was owned by the City of Batavia, and if that isn’t the case, that’s definitely not fair.”

Preston also questioned why those BHA apartments couldn’t be offered at market rate and be subject to the Section 8 guidelines.

“And it’s kind of a suck on city taxes,” he said. “The city is paying fire department, police department, whatever, and it used to be garbage pickup. Luckily, we’re out of that business now. Still, it’s a suck on the city and we’re not getting the full taxes out of it. It’s a double whammy.”

BHA IMMUNE FROM RISING COSTS?

Jeremy Yasses of JP Properties said he feels that the BHA is immune from rising taxes and property assessments.

“In today’s day and age when budgets are tight for municipalities and taxes and assessments are being raised, it’s not affecting the Batavia Housing Authority. How fair is that to the common folks who work every day and their assessment goes up, their taxes go up and their cost of living goes up?” he said.

Yasses said he finds it hard to believe that the Batavia Housing Authority isn’t making a profit.

“You can’t tell me that they break even every year,” he said. “Why are we allowing them to be subsidized? Why did they just get all of those grants to update all their apartments, and society wants us to update ours, and we do it one at a time when we can. They can do all of them, all at once. And that’s not fair.”

He also said that if the BHA is indeed a federal government-run entity, the City of Batavia should have nothing to do with it.

“Why does the city have any say about what’s going on there?” he asked. “No one checks in with me to see how Jeremy Yasses and JP Properties is doing.”

VARLAND EXPANDS UPON GUIDELINES

Varland explained that the BHA is under Section 9, which he called a separate funding stream from Section 8 with separate rules.

“The way Section 8 works is that low income individuals apply for Section 8 and they get a voucher for rent. They can take that to a private landlord,” he said. “With Section 9, we’re responsible for all the compliance and have a high level of oversight.”

He said the oversight comes from the city’s board of directors, but the major player is HUD.

“We’re not city employees, it’s just that the city is the jurisdiction because we’re located within the city limits,” he said. “There’s two ways to look at it: If HUD says jump, we jump; if the city says jump, we’ll have a conversation about jumping. Still, we want to make sure that partnership is strong.”

When asked what would happen if the BHA were to dispose of its properties to an unrelated entity, Varland said the transaction would have to be approved by HUD and for the fair market value.

“It would also have to be used for affordable housing,” he said. “Basically, the mission of the organization (and its property) needs to be preserved.”

400 TOWERS: A SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

Varland said just about all of the 148 apartments at 400 Towers are rented, but two are coming open soon.

“Our wait list is pretty short, so now’s a good time to apply,” he advised.

He said the facility at the corner of Swan and East Main provides a “social experience with everything in one spot.”

“You move in and you’re ready to go. Those studios are here at 400 Towers, where we have trash chutes, the mail comes inside, a snack shop, some meals that resident volunteers provide at low cost, activities, and a case manager on site to connect to resources,” he said. “And we just opened a fitness center and a library."

vickie_and_residents.jpgThe executive director said BHA is “stable” at this time, but there have been times when the HUD allowance has not been enough.

“It allows us to continue operations but we haven’t been able to keep the properties up,” he said. “Currently, we are able to maintain, but there are capital projects that need to happen in the next five years that we don’t currently have money for. But we’ve been able to keep the elevators working and keep roofs over the buildings – the basics – so we’re doing OK there.”

(Photo at right, Vicki Johnson, center, with 400 Towers residents Don Hart and Pauline Hensel).

He credited his staff for keeping things in order.

The administrative team consists of Vicki Johnson, housing manager in charge of recertification and property inspections; Abby Ball, leasing coordinator; Michelle Johnson, bookkeeper, and Heather Klein, case manager.

The maintenance staff lists four full-time employees and one part-time employee who are responsible for repairs and upkeep of all four properties. Varland said that he is looking to hire an entry-level full-time maintenance person.

COUNTING ON CITY PUBLIC SAFETY

Without its own security team, the BHA relies on municipal public safety agencies, Varland said.

“As far as security goes, we count heavily on the Batavia Police Department and Batavia Fire Department. They have been awesome,” Varland said. “They have been incredible supports and I don’t think that we could do this without them. We’re in a much better spot because of their support; it would be a struggle without them, plus our Genesee County EMS."

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He said that 400 Towers has secure doors while the family units at the other locations each have separate entrances. A camera system also is utilized.

“I’ll put our maintenance staff up against any other anywhere,” he said. “They work really hard to make sure that doors, locks, windows are safe and secure. We make sure that everything is in good condition, and to the extent that we have money, we keep things durable and fresh.”

(Photo at right: Maintenance Supervisor Jim Green).

When asked about the frequency of evictions, Varland said that has not been an issue.

“There are a number of our residents who have had financial issues due directly to COVID – both here at 400 Towers and at the family units. We have been able to work with them directly to come up with repayment agreements. As long as we stay in communication we try to help these people manage their financial situations and we want to keep them safe,” he said.

Varland said management has worked out repayment agreements with tenants, working with partner agencies such as Independent Living of the Genesee Region, which offers an emergency rental assistance program.

“The federal government is very interested in making sure people stay safe in their apartments, especially during COVID,” he added.

MORE HOUSING IS NEEDED

Varland said he is well aware of the “definite need for housing” and said that need has changed over the years.

“We could probably do a separate article on that, bringing in the Genesee County Planning Department as we meet quarterly with the Housing Needs Committee,” he said, mentioning the significance of the Ellicott Station, Ellicott Place, Eli Fish and Main Street Pizza downtown apartment projects.

When informed that an 80-unit senior complex is proposed for Pearl Street Road, he said, that is the population that needs housing the most.

“The data that is out there, our population is aging and our family size – our household size – is declining. So, people need accessible, affordable, safe and smaller apartments,” he said.

Varland said he writes letters of support for those type of projects.

“I think they’re good for the city and the county, and don’t really think of them as competition for us,” he said. “We may lose people, and people come and go, however, if it’s good for the city and good for the county, it’s good for us, too. It makes it a better place to be and live.”

July 8, 2021 - 1:19pm

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Glenn Adams shared these photos of yesterday's concert in Centennial Park by the Batavia Concert Band.

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July 8, 2021 - 1:15pm
posted by Press Release in news, BOCES, U.S. Armed Forces, military flags display.

Submitted photo and press release:

Ryan Ditacchio is the commander of the Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post 332 located in Batavia. As the head of this American Legion Post, Ditacchio purchased five flags that represent the five branches of the Military Armed Services of the United States of America, the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

These flags were purchased to display at various events that take place throughout Genesee County. But Ditacchio had no way of properly displaying flags, so he asked Jeff Fronk, Auto Body instructor at the Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center, if there was a way that students could create a flag display pedestal stand.

“For years, we at the Legion, have been talking about creating a display stand that would showcase these flags that represent each branch of the Armed Services. But this display needed to be portable so we could bring it to the various community events around Genesee County. When I approached Jeff, he was 100 percent behind this idea of the students creating something,” said Ditacchio, who is also the teacher’s aide for the Auto Body Program at the Batavia CTE Center.

Ditacchio and Fronk approached a few other CTE Instructors and the project took off. This week-long undertaking was the result of collaborative efforts from different Batavia Career and Technical Education Center Programs. Metal Trades/Precision Machining students created the insignias, Conservation students crafted the wood platform, Metal Trades/Welding students bonded the piping to hold the flags. Auto Body students buffed, polished and sealed the insignias. 

Since the end of June, the flag display stand has traveled throughout Genesee County for various county events and is now located outside the St. Jerome Center in Batavia. 

Andrew Geyer is the Metal Trades/Welding Instructor at the Batavia CTE Center. He noted how projects like these provide important teaching lessons for students. 

“We (the CTE Instructors) were able to give our students some insight into each of the branches of the Armed Services and what it means to serve our country,” Geyer said.

“This was an awesome collaboration and truly engaged our students,” Fronk added. 

The result of this hard work is not just a five-flag display stand, but a gift to the community that has a lasting meaning that will live for years to come.

The Batavia Career and Technical Education Center is a program of the Genesee Valley BOCES. It operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services offering shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties in New York State. 

Photo: From left, Batavia CTE Center instructors Jeff Fronk, Rodney Staats, Ryan Ditacchio and Andrew Geyer with the flag display stand.

July 8, 2021 - 1:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in State Street, batavia, news.

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Batavia resident David Austin, who sent in the photos, noticed yesterday that somebody left household furniture up and down State Street.

"This table was in my yard," he said. "The chair is across the street. And down further towards BOCES, there is more. Very strange indeed. Funny thing is, it's not junk. The table isn't in terrible shape."

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July 8, 2021 - 1:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in DIsabled American Veterans, veterans, ABATE, news.

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At Stan's Harley-Davidson on Wednesday, members of Genesee County ABATE, along with representatives of veterans organizations in Genesee County, presented a $3,000 donation to Doug Titus, treasurer of the Disabled American Veterans van program.

The money was raised by ABATE in early June on a ride, which required a donation to join, that took members from the posts of VFWs and American Legions in the region, where they picked up donations. There was also a 50/50 raffle and the ABATE kicked in the last few dollars to round the donation up to $3,000.

July 8, 2021 - 12:57pm

South Main Street Road near the Wortendyke Road intersection in the Town of Batavia will be closed beginning Monday, July 12th for a culvert replacement project.

The project will take approximately eight weeks to complete, and that portion of the road will not be passable to traffic or emergency vehicles during that time. 

The public will be notified again once the road is reopened. 

 

Laura A. Wadhams, P.E.

Assistant County Engineer

July 8, 2021 - 12:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the homepage).
  • Once re gistered you must sign in using the "sign in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Billie Owens:   [email protected]
July 8, 2021 - 12:41pm

From Pauli Miano:

The Elba Betterment Committee is pleased to announce the first concert in their summer concert series -- EBC Music and More 2.0 this Saturday, July 10 at the Elba Village Park.

Rockin' the Gazebo at Elba Village Park

It is located in the center of the Village on east side of Main Street.

Music starts at noon with Bobby and the Pedestrians, a local Reggae rock and roll band that will introduce listeners to a didgeridoo while they combine their original style with familiar tunes that will have you singing along and asking for more.

Second in the lineup (at about 2 o'clock) is the ever popular Genesee Ted who will be bringing the '60s and '70s rock we all love with a mix of old-school country.

Closing the day (at about 4 p.m.) will be the hard-rocking Savage Cabbage. Expect some Grand Funk Railroad and Bad Company mixed with a little Marshall Tucker, and of course, Johnny Be Good.

Tying it all together on our smaller stage will be the acoustic stylings of The Elba Guys -- John, Tom and Lee, who will be familiar to most from their long local music past. This is our first venture into the "festival" business, and after the raging, but unfortunately, restricted response we had last summer, we expect this to be a fun, musical event for the whole family.

Bring Your Own Lawn Chair, Lots of Food and Drinks to Purchase

Bring your lawn chair, and have lunch and maybe even dinner in beautiful Elba. BEST (Building Elba School Together) will be serving Andy's Pizza and and ice cream from Zuber Farms; Mac Daddy's Ultimate Mac 'n' Cheese; Center Street Smokehouse and Pub Coffee Hub will be there with their trucks as well.

Eli Fish Brewing Co. will be bringing the beer, and Circle B Winery the wine -- what more do you need? And last but not least (sometimes it's OK to eat dessert first) will be Lori's Delectable Edibles (think cake bites, brownies and cookies) and her delicious Bubble Tea.

Get Yours! Onion Capital of the World T-shirts

The Betterment will be selling their Onion Capital of the World T-shirts and conducting a 50/50 raffle and invites other nonprofits to contact us if you would like to have a booth or stand at any of our events.

Taking a Free Will Donation for the Down Syndrome Parent Support Group

There is never a charge for all of this great music, but we will be taking a free will donation to the Down Syndrome Parent Support Group of Genesee County. This wonderful organization provides support and encouragement to individuals with with Down Syndrome who reside in the GLOW area. Representatives will be at the park to talk to anyone who is interested in joining or assisting this group.

This and all of our summer concerts is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the NYS Council on the Arts with the Support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature, and administered by GOART!

Our second show will be in August. Look for more information to come.

July 8, 2021 - 9:16am
posted by Press Release in GLOW YMCA, batavia, news.

Press release:

Summer Rec at Farrall, John Kennedy, Lambert and Williams parks will be canceled today, Thursday, July 8th due to severe thunderstorm bands expected to hit late morning through the remainder of the afternoon. Summer rec anticipates being open Friday, July 9th unless otherwise communicated to families.

Summer Rec will avoid canceling in advance unless absolutely sure of unsafe weather conditions (flooding, safety threat, heat-index risk or thunder/lightening storms)

For further questions regarding Summer Rec, please contact the GLOW YMCA (585) 344-1664.

July 8, 2021 - 8:53am

Press release:

Representatives of the organizations that support the Genesee County PAARI program will be recognized next Tuesday at a midday event at the City of Batavia Fire Department headquarters at 18 Evans St.

The local Public Safety Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative has gained momentum in the county, most recently having the distinction of welcoming the Batavia FD as the first fire company in New York (and one of just a few in the nation) as a participant.

The program is designed to provide support and resources to help law enforcement and public safety agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery.

PAARI leaders in Genesee County are highlighting the significance of this development by holding a two-hour public session, beginning at 11 a.m. on July 13.

They also have changed the name of the program slightly in this area to Public Safety Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative instead of the official name of Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative -- while still using the PAARI acronym.

The event will feature leaders of the four public safety agencies that have signed on to PAARI: Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Batavia Police Department, Le Roy Police Department and Genesee County Health Department.

Officials of program sponsors Greater Rochester Health Foundation, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, and GOW Opioid Task Force also are scheduled to speak.

The GRHF will be presented with a plaque at the event for its support and funding of necessary renovations at the fire headquarters.

Complimentary food and beverage will be provided to all in attendance. Once registered, individuals will be contacted for their lunch selection.

To register for this event, click here.

For more information, contact Christen Ferraro, GRHF project coordinator, at [email protected].

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Photo: Representatives of Genesee County Sheriff's Office, Batavia Fire Department, Le Roy Police Department and Batavia Police Department that support the PAARI program in Genesee County. Submitted photo.

July 8, 2021 - 7:39am

After swinging and missing on a pitch to obtain a grant from the New York State Office of Community Renewal for the replacement of 5,300 feet of water main as part of the Park Road Reconstruction Project, the Batavia Town Board is still staying in the batter’s box.

It remains steadfast in its commitment to upgrade the municipality's sanitary sewer pump station at the Valu Plaza on West Main Street.

On Wednesday afternoon, lawmakers scheduled a public hearing on the Community Development Block Grant funding for 7:05 p.m. July 21 (the board’s next meeting) at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road.

“The application is for upgrades and repairs of the sanitary sewer pump station at the West Main Street plaza,” said Town Supervisor Gregory Post, adding that he’s not sure of the cost at this time. “We’re working on that (cost projections) as we speak. It’s a rushed application because we were denied our last application for Park Road and another round of funding is coming out.”

Missing out on the Park Road grant is disappointing, he said, but as the project moves forward, the town is looking at a bond resolution to pay for the approximately $900,000 cost of replacing the water main.

“We’re going to bid on Park Road in the next few weeks and we’re bonding that,” he said. “Once we receive the bids, we’ll develop a construction schedule based on that.”

A public hearing on the bond resolution for the Park Road water main and the entire capital improvement project also is scheduled July 21 at 7 p.m.

The resolution calls for the issuance of serial bonds not to exceed $975,190, offset by any federal, state, county and/or local funds received.

The $3 million Park Road rehabilitation will take place from Lewiston Road (Route 63) to Oak Street (Route 98).

Work will include new pavement, curbs and curbing from Lewiston Road to Richmond Avenue with sidewalks on both sides of Park Road, while pavement will be overlaid and sidewalks installed on one side of the road from Richmond Avenue to Route 98. The project also calls for new water lines and street lights on Park Road between Route 63 and Richmond Avenue.

Additional property enhancements of up to $395,000 at Batavia Downs Gaming will be paid for by the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.

Solar Moratorium is Extended

In another development, the town board called another public hearing – this one for 7:10 p.m. July 21 to extend a moratorium on solar energy systems for up to another six months. The current moratorium is set to expire at the end of this month.

“We felt it important that we still had the moratorium in place while we work on getting our new (solar) law enacted,” Post said. “So, we’re setting a public hearing to extend the moratorium until such time that we have the legislative process complete.”

Post said the process of enacting new solar regulations has taken longer than expected “due to the extraordinary depths the (town’s solar) committee is diving into to make sure that this is well researched and well thought out. We want to make it more wholesome for the entire community and not leave anybody out.”

Post mentioned some recent developments in the solar arena that could affect the town’s handling of ground-mounted and, potentially, large-scale solar systems.

“The state’s solar agency (Office of Renewable Energy Siting) is being challenged in the courts, and NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) was found out to have hired a consulting firm that also has solar and wind energy customers as clients,” he reported. “That could be a conflict of interest – hiring somebody for a million dollars that is working for solar and wind energy companies.”

Furthermore, Post said he saw that Cypress Creek Renewables LLC, which owns the rights to a pair of side-by-side 5- and 4-megawatt solar systems on Ellicott Street Road, was sold to a Stockholm, Sweden-based investment company called EQT earlier this week.

“Solar is a hot topic and we just want to do our job and make sure we do it as well as everything else,” Post said, adding that he hopes to have the town’s new solar law in place by Labor Day.

July 7, 2021 - 6:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Muckdogs, sports, baseball, news.

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The Muckdogs battled at home on Tuesday night but in the end just couldn't put up enough runs to beat Geneva, dropping the final game of a homestand 3-2.

The team is in Niagara tonight and will play Elmira at home tomorrow.  

The losing pitcher Tuesday was George Osborne, a junior at Alcorn State University. Osborne, with an ERA of 2.34, put in six solid innings, fanning 10, but picked up his first loss (no wins) in three starts.  

Tyler Prospero, from Batavia, struck out two in a scoreless inning of work.

Cameron Conley, who will be attending Pepperdine University, raised his average to .281 with two hits. Conley has appeared in nine games, getting a hit in all but two of those games.

To view or purchase photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene Photography.

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July 7, 2021 - 6:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy owen, jim owen, Redfield Parkway, batavia, news.

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Kathy Owen dedicated a portion of the last years of her life to ensuring the stone pillars that act as markers to the opening of Redfield Parkway in Batavia were saved and restored.

It was a lot of work convincing city officials that it was actually the city that owned the pillars, that the city had a responsibility to maintain the pillars, and to finally invest in restoring the pillars.

It took eight years.

More than a year ago, Owen died.  

Yesterday evening, more than 50 Redfield Parkway residents, along with other community members, gathered in the driveway of her brother, Jim Owen, to dedicate a marker commemorating Kathy Owen and her tireless efforts on behalf of the Redfield Parkway community.

Owen was known as the "Queen of Redfield Parkway" (Jim is the "Mayor of Redfield Parkway"), and was responsible for carrying on the Redfield traditions of flags, flowers, and Christmas trees but even in her absence, her spirit remains as her friends and neighbors keep these traditions alive.

"The plaque says Kathy was an advocate of Redfield Parkway," said City Council President Eugene Jankowski. "All of you are advocates of Redfield Parkway and you make the City look even better.”

Jim got a bit emotional when thanking all who turned out to remember his sister.

"She would be very proud," Owen said. "As you know, it is her birthday today and she’s looking down saying, ‘Thank you. Thank you very much.’ ”

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July 7, 2021 - 3:06pm

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley today slammed the governor’s declaration of a “statewide disaster emergency” regarding gun violence in the state. Within the governor’s executive order, he unilaterally suspends numerous laws while allocating $138.7 million toward programs he believes will reduce gun violence.

“This emergency declaration is yet another instance of the governor going above our heads in the Legislature to haphazardly expend funds aimed to try and solve the wrong root problem,” Hawley said. “The reason for the rise in crime as of late is no mystery, and until the governor admits bail reform was a failed experiment with deadly consequences, I fear the terrible violence in our communities will persist.

"Our constitutional freedom to own guns isn’t the problem that’s causing this violence, it’s the dangerous revolving-door the governor has created in our penal system that’s giving dangerous individuals more opportunities than ever to harm the innocent, or victims of their previous crimes.”

​Hawley for months has called for the rollback of bail reform laws, which limits a judge’s ability to use their discretion to issue bail to those they know to be dangerous. He argues that this law has created a revolving door for dangerous criminals, who have often been released back into the public after being arrested following the implementation of bail reform. These criminals often reoffend and cause further violence in the communities they’re released into.

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