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Batavia City Planning & Development Committee

November 18, 2020 - 9:25am

The City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee on Tuesday night saw no problem with a change in the location of an elevator that will lead to second-floor apartments of the Ellicott Place project.

V.J. Gautieri Constructors Inc., which is rehabilitating the Save-A-Lot building as part of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative program, submitted a site plan review to the committee that modifies the previously approved design of the second floor by moving the elevator originally planned for the interior of the existing building to a location on the exterior wall of the north elevation.

Company President Victor Gautieri, in his submission to the committee, said the basis for the change was “to develop a more easily accessible, safe entry for the second-floor apartment tenants, wherein the travel distance and corridor turns to the first-floor elevator access point would both be reduced to a more desirable condition.”

Work is underway on the $2.3 million renovation of the exterior of the building and the vacant space that will include 10 market rate apartments on the second floor.

Plans call for the construction of seven one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments on the vacant, 11,600-square-foot second floor, and includes the development of 18,000 square feet of first-floor commercial/retail space.

The PDC also recommended that the City Zoning Board of Appeals approve an area variance request for internal illumination of the proposed Save-A-Lot signs – four signs that will feature the grocer’s new logo. Signs by John’s Studio has been contracted to create the signs.

The ZBA meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday.

September 25, 2020 - 1:40pm

An update of the direction that the Batavia City Council will take in filling the vacant city manager position is on the agenda of Monday night’s Conference Meeting at City Hall Council Chambers.

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. previously indicated that the board would make its plan public at Monday’s meeting.

The choices boil down to utilizing a stipulation in a contract with The Novak Consulting Group of Cincinnati, Ohio, to receive a “free professional search” or to hire Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski, who has been serving in that capacity since the June departure of former City Manager Martin Moore.

The Novak Consulting Group assisted in the search to hire Moore in August of 2018. The firm’s agreement with the city included a free search should Moore leave within two years of his employment date.

City Council met in executive session earlier this week to, in all likelihood, discuss the city manager position.

Should Council decide to conduct a full search as it did in the case of the Moore hiring, it would consist of forming a screening committee to evaluate potential candidate resumes and, eventually, conduct interviews.

Jankowski has acknowledged there will be costs associated with the search that would not be covered by Novak’s guarantee, such as advertising in national trade publications and travel expenses.

The board could bypass a manager search and offer the job to Tabelski, who was hired as assistant city manager in August of last year.

In a related development, Council will consider a resolution on Monday’s meeting agenda to give Tabelski $1,000 per month in addition to her regular salary – effective July 20, 2020 – for assuming additional duties and responsibilities in the absence of a city manager. The stipend would continue until the city manager position is permanently filled.

Other agenda highlights include:

  • An application from the Downtown Business Improvement District to hold Christmas in the City from 2 to 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5. A parade from Jefferson Avenue to Liberty Street is set for 6 p.m. Estimated costs for the event are $480 for police coverage, $276.42 for public works assistance and $1,425.71 for bureau of maintenance duties.
  • An audit presentation by Laura Landers of Freed Maxick concerning the city’s financial statements for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020. Landers and Tabelski met with the City of Batavia Audit Advisory Committee on Aug. 18 to review the documents, and answered questions pertaining to fund transfers, debt service payments, fund balances (including water and sewer), the city’s self-insurance plan and the impact of decreased sales tax revenue.
  • A resolution authorizing a foreclosed house at 50 Oak St. to be transferred (for $1) to Habitat for Humanity for rehabilitation. If approved, it would be the 11th home acquired by Habitat from the City of Batavia. A memo from Tabelski to Council indicates that Habitat plans to invest between $58,000 and $62,000 to renovate the one-family house, which is assessed at $62,000. The Batavia Housing Authority is partnering with the city in this venture.
  • A resolution to schedule a public hearing on Oct. 26 to amend the Batavia Municipal Code to include public garages in I-1 industrial zones with a special use permit. This change stems from a January request by Eric Biscaro, owner of Classic Home Improvement, to construct an auto service station on the property at 653 Ellicott St. The zoning text change has been approved by the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee and the Genesee County Planning Board.
July 22, 2020 - 12:01pm

Six months after seeking approval from Batavia City Council to build an auto service station on his Ellicott Street property, Eric Biscaro may be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

On Tuesday night, the City Planning & Development Committee voted in favor of allowing what the municipal code classifies as a “public garage” in an I-1 (Industrial) zone, contingent upon the granting of an accompanying special use permit.

Currently, the City code allows auto repair shops in the P-1 (Planned Development) zone, specifically the Batavia Industrial Park, and in a C-2 (Commercial) zone with a special use permit.

According to Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall, the PDC’s decision to open the I-1 zone to include public garages will now go back to City Council for its review.

“If City Council decides in favor of it, then it will go to the Genesee County Planning Board for its review and recommendation to Council,” Randall said. “From there, Council again will review the county’s recommendation and hold a public hearing and vote, or schedule a public hearing (prior to a possible vote).”

If and when the change becomes a local law, then Biscaro – or anyone else for that matter – would be able to file an application for a special use permit which, in Biscaro’s case, would mean going back to the County Planning Board since the location is within 500 feet from a state highway.

In late January, Biscaro petitioned City Council for permission to place a motor vehicle repair shop on the site of his other two companies at 653 Ellicott St. – Classic Home Improvements and Armor Building Supply.

Prior to that, his request for a variance was rejected by the County Planning Board because a public garage was not an allowable use in the I-1 district.

Council members forwarded Biscaro’s request to the PDC for review and subsequent recommendation, action that was taken last night.

According to the municipal code, a “public garage” is a building or part thereof used for the storage, hiring, selling, greasing, washing, servicing or repair of motor vehicles, operated for gain.

Randall said that the shop’s principal use would be to repair cars and trucks.

Biscaro’s proposal calls for expanding an existing open shed into a two-bay garage behind the Armor side (of the facility), a building that he said will not be visible from Ellicott Street.

Contacted today, Biscaro said he was disappointed when he learned that the auto repair shop wasn’t permitted in the first place, but is pleasantly surprised to hear of the PDC’s ruling.

“At the time, being in the Industrial zone, I thought it would absolutely be OK,” he said. “Since then, I lost my tenant – he had to find another place – but I still wish to go forward with it.”

In other action, the PDC, as expected, approved a pair of major construction projects:

-- Ellicott Place, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative venture of V.J. Gautieri Constructors Inc., to renovate the Save-A-Lot supermarket building at 45-47 Ellicott St.;

Both projects received recommendations of approval last month from the Genesee County Planning Board.

Following several minutes of discussion about siding materials, color selection, window types and placement, exterior design, dumpster location and designated parking areas, PDC members OK'd Gautieri’s request for a special use permit to allow the firm to create 10 apartments on the vacant, 11,600-square-foot second floor.

The approval, however, comes with the stipulation that additional enhancement – or bump-outs -- be placed around two windows on the south side of the second floor to conform with the rest of the architectural design.

Victor Gautieri, company president, said financing is expected to be finalized by the end of the month, with work to begin about four weeks later.

He and David Rowley, director of project management, answered questions from the board.

PDC Member Ed Flynn, who made the motion to add the window treatment, said the final plans “were pretty consistent to what was (originally) submitted” a couple years ago.

“It’s great to see a DRI project moving forward,” Flynn said.

About half of the project’s cost will be paid for by a $1.15 million DRI award. It also will be receiving about $130,000 in sales tax and mortgage tax abatements from the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Previously: Planning boards to consider Ellicott Place residential/commercial venture special use permits

-- A two-story, 20-bed detoxification center addition to the Atwater House residential facility on the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse campus at 424 E. Main St.

Eleanor Asquith, an architect with Fontanese Folts Aubrecht Ernst of Orchard Park, presented the nonprofit agency’s proposal to build an 8,788-square-foot medically supervised detox center.

Questions from the PDC dealt primarily with the need to install another parking lot (13 spaces), which would increase the available umber of parking spots to 113 – including 18 spaces that are being leased from property owned by Cornell Cooperative Extension off Masse Place.

Asquith pointed out that GCASA officials anticipate that at least 94 parking spaces will be required since the addition of the detox center will create about 26 more jobs.

The $3.6 million addition is being funded by OASAS capital projects.

Previously: 'A welcome addition': County planners support GCASA's detoxification center project

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