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Batavia Town Planning Board

March 17, 2021 - 12:05pm

An Ellicott Street Road farmer’s plan to place a pair of side-by-side community solar arrays on his property received the green light from the Batavia Town Planning Board on Tuesday night, but not before the project developer agreed to concessions pertaining to utility poles and aesthetics.

Toward the end of a 58-minute discussion among planners, Town of Batavia officials and representatives of Cypress Creek Renewables LLC via Zoom videoconferencing, five of the six planning board members on the call voted that the solar farms would cause no or little adverse environmental impact, and also approved the site plans and the required special use permits.

The proposal was presented in June 2019 by Don Partridge, who also is a member of the planning board. He was not allowed to vote on any measures pertaining to the project.

Partridge has contracted with Cypress Creek Renewables to construct two adjacent solar farms at 5117 Ellicott Street Road, southeast of the city limits:

  • A 5-megawatt array on 18.2 acres of a 65-acre parcel of otherwise agricultural land, known as Trousdale Solar I;
  • A 4-megawatt system on 19.6 acres of a 71-acre parcel of otherwise agricultural land, known as Trousdale Solar II.

The planning board tabled the project last month after determining it needed more photos and visual projections of current and future screening of the solar panel arrays.

Additional Screenings, Pole Relocation

Last night, Cypress Creek Renewables representatives Jerry Leone, Nick Hawvermale and attorney Mark Sweeney did present maps of the property, updated to show additional screening (berms and trees) – and what it would look like in five and 10 years. They also reported the relocation of three utility poles owned by CCR about 230 feet into the site, within the fence line.

Currently, the site plan calls for four utility poles owned by National Grid and the three owned by CCR.

While acknowledging CCR’s good faith effort to address the board’s concerns, planning board Member Paul McCullough said he believed that the number of poles could be reduced, calling them “ugly in these projects.”

His colleague, Jonathan Long, agreed, adding that the poles still could be seen from the solar farm’s driveway.

Planners also had hoped that the developers would obtain a letter from National Grid to see if the company could eliminate some of its utility poles, but Leone said the power company indicated it was unable to provide that.

Leone offered to plant more soil berms as “further mitigation -- not 24-feet high, but ground berming to create “more of a fit naturally to the land.”

What About Ground-mounted Enclosures?

At that point, McCullough asked if CCR could replace the utility poles with ground-mounted (transformer boxes). Leone responded by saying that modification would be expensive.

“We would be looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of about a $200,000 delta between what we’re proposing and going to a ground, perhaps a minimum, and that would be per connection,” Leone said.  "It gets to the point where we’re talking about a healthy price tag when we start talking about mounting below grade.”

Planner Steve Tanner noted CCR’s attempt at mitigation, but questioned whether it was enough to enable the board to issue a negative declaration for the State Environmental Quality Review.

The developers again brought up the additional screening on the east side and vegetative buffer in front of neighboring properties, before Leone advanced – "as a last resort” -- the idea of ground-mounted enclosures to replace a pole or two.

McCullough said he would be on board with that.

Hawvermale then reiterated the increased cost to CCR and said he hoped that National Grid could do the same, to some degree, with its poles.

“It does add construction timeline implications that make it a little more difficult for us. That’s something we can look into with National Grid,” he said.

Tanner then suggested that any site plan approval and special use permits issued should include stipulations that the three CCR poles and at least one National Grid pole be replaced with ground-mounted apparatus.

SEQR, Site Plans, Permits Approved

With that in place, planners voted that the project would have no or little environmental impact – thus rendering a “negative declaration” on the combined SEQR.

They then voted separately on the site plans and special use permits for the two arrays, heeding Town Engineer Steve Mountain’s advice to make it contingent upon: town engineering approval; obtaining cost estimates in the case of decommissioning; addressing NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets comments; securing additional screening; and reduction of the utility poles.

Unanimous votes on both solar farms now gives CCR the right to proceed with the project, pending the signing of resolutions that spell out the specifics of what was agreed upon.

Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski, thanked all parties upon approval of the referral, adding that “it was mitigated to the best of our ability … and we can’t make everyone happy but we did our best.”

Jasinski opened the meeting by reading a letter dated March 9 from Christopher and Christine Long of 9234 Batavia Stafford Townline Road, expressing “our many concerns of a solar panel project so close in proximity to our home.” The Longs asked Jasinski if she would share the letter with the planning board before voting took place.

Summarizing, the Longs wrote that it was “wholly inappropriate for Partridge to “consistently sell his land to parties directly involved in Town of Batavia building projects while he is serving another seven-year term with the Planning Board … “and is a blatant and obvious conflict of interest.”

Concerns Over Resale Value, Safety

The couple also wrote that the solar farm would decrease the value and resale of its three parcels, totaling 5.4 acres with 1,080 feet of frontage on Batavia Stafford Townline Road, and are concerned for the safety of its family “as the project emerges in what is, essentially, our backyard.”

The Longs also said the project “is in direct conflict” with the Town of Batavia’s mission statement, which is to “protect and promote public health, safety, morals and general welfare for all residents in the Town of Batavia.”

Other reasons for their opposition indicated in the letter include safety of the industrial solar panels, pollution, disruption of the surrounding farmland and displacement of wildlife.

In closing, while reiterating its disagreement with the proposal, the Longs said they “adamantly insist that in addition to the installation of the code-required 8-foot perimeter fence, that a berm and/or several rows of trees be included in the plan and be established between the east side of the project and our home (and the) current trees and vegetation that compose the existing hedgerow should also remain intact.”

Partridge made a brief statement after Jasinski finished reading the letter:

“Relative to the Batavia Stafford Townline (Road), there are at least two properties between any properties on the town line and my property, and there’s no way that anywhere on the Batavia Stafford Townline (Road) you’ll be able to see this project. That’s all I want to say.”

Outdoor Shooting Range on Hold Until April 6

On another front, planners heard briefly from Brandon Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin in Bergen, about his plan to develop an outdoor recreational facility that includes shooting ranges and a drive-in movie theater on a 22-acre parcel at 3269 Harloff Road.

Previously, Lewis presented his proposal to the Genesee County Planning Board, which recommended approval of a special use permit and site plan with modifications pertaining to stormwater pollution mitigation, acquiring the proper permits, and ensuring there is no glare from the movie screen onto the New York State Thruway.

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said his office has received numerous phone calls from residents – some positive and some negative – and asked planners to direct all questions in email form to Lang or Mountain.

Jasinski said a site plan review will be placed on the April 6 agenda and voting on the special use permit will take place after a public hearing on April 20.

March 3, 2021 - 1:46pm

The Batavia Town Board Tuesday night tabled action necessary to advance a community solar project on Ellicott Street Road – the pros and cons of which have been dissected and discussed by engineers, developers, planners and neighbors for the past year and a half.

Introduced in June 2019, the proposal from Cypress Creek Renewables LLC calls for placement of two solar farms on property owned by Don Partridge at 5117 Ellicott Street Road.

One, Trousdale Solar I, is a 5-megawatt array on 18.2 acres of a 65-acre parcel, and the other, Trousdale Solar II, is an adjacent 4-megawatt system on 19.6 acres of a 71-acre parcel of farmland off Route 63, southeast of the city.

Town planners at their meeting via Zoom videoconferencing last night were looking to proclaim a negative declaration for the State Environmental Quality Review, which deals with the projects’ combined effect on the land, and also to approve separate site plans and special use permits for the two tracts.

During the SEQR process, however, Steve Tanner, a planning board member, said it would be wise to get an updated visual impact study as he had concerns over the proposed screening of the layout from neighboring properties.

Cypress Creek representatives Jerry Leone and civil engineer Nick Hawvermale indicated that they had addressed the town’s request to mitigate any visual impacts by moving a portion of screening (trees, etc.) further south, closer to a neighbor’s property.

After hearing Tanner’s request for photos to be taken from the neighbors’ view, Leone asked Town Engineer Steve Mountain for assistance in obtaining access. Mountain said that would be possible, noting that landowners have been accommodating to the town on other projects.

With an eye on making this happen before the board’s next meeting on Feb. 16, Leone said his company is “prepared to move quickly.”

Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski brought up tabling everything until the supplemental photo documentation was obtained, prompting Partridge, a planning board member, to advise that he had taken more pictures that day from the border of neighboring fields.

“I don’t know what difference it will matter getting up next to their house another 30 feet to visualize something that will be behind the trees that are on Folger’s (property),” he said. “And we have a presentation where they have the driveway and the trees on that. Now if you go to the other side of Folger’s with that tree line … it’s going to be the same kind of visualization on the knoll behind the Smiths' and the ARC properties.”

A motion to table was presented, however, with Town Building Inspector Dan Lang suggesting to “err on the side of caution” before Tanner reiterated his call for “a complete set of documents that show everything we are asking for” – views with screening and without screening.

Planner Jonathan Long supported that, referring to a question on the SEQR application that points to the solar farm being inconsistent with the character of the natural landscape and surmising that proper screening would mitigate potential issues.

Hawvermale took several minutes to go over the renderings of the two solar farms, making planners aware of the placement and types of screenings and buffers.

When questioned about the number of utility poles on the layout, Leone said that is within National Grid’s “purview” and leaves Cypress Creek little flexibility. Hawvermale did provide specifics, indicating that there will be five utility company poles and three others to be put up by Cypress Creek.

Jasinski said the town will contact National Grid to get information about the number of poles in writing, adding that the power company has permitted a fewer number on other projects.

Planners also asked about glare, with Lang stating that a study came back showing no glare at all on the site. Still, he is requesting further research because that is the first time a report came back with that result.

When voting on the proposal does occur, Partridge will be required to abstain.

In recent weeks, neighbors and others living on Ellicott Street Road have spoken out about Partridge’s plan, citing impacts on the land and property values, and questioning whether two 20-acre side-by-side arrays violate the maximum limit imposed by the Town of Batavia.

Previously: Ellicott Street Road resident challenges Town of Batavia's 20-acre solar limit as nearby project moves forward

February 3, 2021 - 11:55am


The Batavia Town Planning Board was introduced to another community solar project on Tuesday night – a plan to install a 1.65-megawatt system on vacant land owned by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. on R. Stephen Hawley Drive (College Road) – and, right away, was peppered with comments about the need to shield the array from a nearby home.

Planners held a public hearing in connection with a special use permit request by Batavia Solar LLC to put the ground-mounted solar farm at 99 Med Tech Drive, near the Genesee County Economic Development Center office.

James Taravella, senior civil engineer with LaBella Associates, Orchard Park, told the board that 5.63 acres of the 7.95-acre parcel, located in a Planned Unit Development district, will be fenced in for this solar array. He said the project calls for the installation of approximately 4,500 modules using a fixed access racking system.

Other features of the project include an access road with a 13- by 20-foot equipment pad and a 6 foot high chain-link fence around the entire layout. Taravella said all setbacks are in line with requirements of the PUD District – 50-foot front setback, 30-foot side setback and 40-foot rear setback.

As soon as he finished, Tim Morrow, a resident of Ellicott Street Road, asked if the owners of a home near the proposed solar array have been contacted about the project, stating that he is “looking out for the town and the community because I have the situation out by my house.”

Morrow has spoken out at previous public hearings and meetings against the Trousdale Solar I and Trousdale Solar II projects proposed for land owned by Donald Partridge at 5117 Ellicott Street Road.

Taravella: 'We're Communicating with the Neighbors'

Taravella said that representatives of Batavia Solar LLC are communicating with Robert and Michelle Wood of 8244 Batavia-Stafford Townline Road, whose home is in close proximity to the proposed solar array.

Morrow then asked if the developers planned to shield the solar farm with a berm or trees.

“At this early stage we have not put any screening but it is typical for a screening plan to be implemented as the project progresses,” Taravella said, adding that he plans to work with the Woods to “develop something that they will be happy with.”

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang informed those on the Zoom call that the Town of Batavia has specifications for its solar projects, including a decommissioning bond and a call for trees, berms and surface vegetation to ensure a view “that is as natural as possible in accordance with our code.”

At that point, Michelle Wood spoke up, acknowledging that she and her husband are the landowners.

“We really would like a berm put along the back of it – it protects us and our house,” she said. “We’re OK and in favor of a solar farm there. We would prefer a solar farm versus a cement industrial building there, so we don’t have a real problem with it. We would just like for them to come to us with what their ideas are and what they’re planning to do.”

Planners Want Extensive Screening

Later on, during the regular meeting, planners asked Taravella to develop a screening plan that shields the Wood house “not only from looking out their back window but also from their side window, over to the driveway” and asked him to create visual simulations showing as such.

Furthermore, board members requested screening around the entire project, including the view from College Road. Taravella said that is an early consideration as developers have to make sure that some of the fixed-angle panels are not shaded by trees or berms.

Going forward, Town Engineer Steve Mountain advised that developers should submit a long-form State Environmental Quality Review to provide as much information to the planning board, which then voted in favor of seeking lead agency status for the project.

Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski said the board will invite Taravella back after getting the SEQR form, which takes about 30 days, and talk about the special use permit.

In other action, the planning board:

  • Following a public hearing, approved a special use permit for Janice Smith, 9149 Creek Road in the Town of Batavia, to convert an existing barn in an agricultural-residential district as a venue for weddings and other events.

“I have a large barn; I have property,” Smith said. “We went through this last year with my son where he got married, and he didn’t have a place to have it, so I would like to offer that (option) to other people. We don’t really have anything like that around here so …”

Discussion centered around the number of parking spots available on the property and whether the surface would be paved or left as grass.

Smith said there would be 157 parking spots on a grass surface, adding that the ground was “completely flat” and that she didn’t anticipate any problems being that the barn would be used during the warm weather months.

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said that he has made several visits to the site and found “no difficulties” as the ground was solid, and there also were areas of stone and gravel.

Smith also responded to a question about possible noise issues related to music being played at the venue but said there are no neighbors for miles to the east or west and the closest neighbor otherwise were her parents.

Previously, the referral was recommended for approval by the Genesee County Planning Board with modifications that the applicant provide a revised site plan with the location and number of parking spots serving the party venue; and applies for 9-1-1 Address Verification to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office to ensure that the address of the proposed event venue meets Enhanced 9-1-1 standards*.

*Enhanced 911, E-911 or E911 is a system used in North America to automatically provide the caller's location to 9-1-1 dispatchers. 911 is the universal emergency telephone number in the region.
  • Approved a site plan and SEQR and declared itself as lead agency for the construction of a LandPro (John Deere sales and service company) sales, storage and maintenance facility at 4554 W. Saile Drive, near the Volvo Rents equipment building.

The venture initially came before the board in December and was also reviewed by county planners.

“I think you might be pretty familiar with the project by now. Obviously, we’re looking to go ahead and build on approximately 14 and a half acres on West Saile Drive,” said Project Designer Andrew Schmieder.

Schmieder said the project consists of a 28,000-square-foot maintenance building with about 15 bays for work on agricultural equipment and another five or six bays for work on turf equipment. He said that the main sales and parts storage facility is around 22,000 square feet and it will include office space to accommodate the transfer of administrative employees to the site.

Additionally, there will be about 7,000 square feet allocated to parts storage and LandPro officials are proposing to erect a 200- by 75-foot pole barn for cold storage, Schmieder said.

“This site lends itself very well to what’s being proposed – we’ve got a lot of room out there,” he said. “There’s an area out front to display some of their turf and ag equipment.”

Responding to concerns over increased traffic, Schmieder said he didn’t expect a significant change. He said during peak hours, they expect 10 to 15 vehicle customers per hour, and three to four cargo deliveries per day to the facility that will house about 65 employees.

Schmieder reported that there will be a minimum of 70 parking spots for employees and another 40 for retail customers, including six handicapped parking spaces.

Final approval is contingent upon final town engineering review and approval. Work is anticipated to be completed in the spring or summer of 2022.

Rendering at top (taken from Zoom meeting) shows the proposed solar project on Med Tech Drive off R. Stephen Hawley Drive (College Road), The Wood residence is at the right.

January 5, 2021 - 10:22pm

Understanding the importance of traffic flow -- especially along a busy Route 98 north of the Thruway exit, engineers will be putting their heads together to devise the best plan for vehicles to enter and exit the four-story medical office building being proposed by Rochester Regional Health.

Town of Batavia Engineer Steve Mountain, speaking after tonight’s Batavia Town Planning Board meeting, said there is “a little more work to do” to correctly mitigate any potential traffic issues and to ensure the traffic pattern is designed to accommodate future growth.

“We’re in the reviewing phase and acting upon a few comments from the (New York State) Department of Transportation,” Mountain said, adding that the project will include the installation of a traffic signal on Route 98, connecting Call Parkway with Federal Drive.

He also emphasized that anything done for this project must allow for the possibility of the construction of another traffic lane along Route 98.

Thus, the planning board signed off on a State Environmental Quality Review (a negative declaration) and approved the site plan contingent upon final approval by town engineers and the clearing up of any mitigating factors.

“This keeps the project moving forward while we set up meetings with the developer’s engineers and DOT officials,” Mountain said.

RRH plans to construct an 140,000-square-foot medical office facility at 8103 Oak Orchard Road (Route 98), a plan already recommended for approval by the Genesee County Planning Board.

Additionally, the Town Zoning Board of Appeals approved an area variance related to the building height.

United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia is part of the RRH system, which has similar multi-specialty buildings in the Rochester area and also in Geneva.

RRH has contracted with the CPL (Clark Patterson Lee) engineering firm of Rochester. CPL engineers previously reported that 90,000 square feet will be allotted for office space and that 360 parking spaces will be available – with 63 of them in a first-floor parking garage.

UMMC President Daniel Ireland has said that RRH will disclose information about the specific services as the project progresses.

September 16, 2020 - 12:27pm

The Batavia Town Planning Board on Tuesday night approved site plans for additions to the Imagination Station child care center at 5079 Clinton Street Road and HP Hood at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road.

“The day care center will be adding two classrooms in the back,” Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski said, noting that the State Environmental Quality Review revealed no negative impact to the area. “We’re happy they are doing a successful business and it was unanimously approved.”

The 2,800-square-foot addition measures 78 feet wide by 36 feet deep. The project’s estimated cost is $250,000, according to documents submitted by owners Kelly and Eric Kronbeck of Alden.

At HP Hood, plans call for construction of a 7,200-square-foot commercial cooler for more storage at the processing plant.

Previously, both site plans were recommended for approval by the Genesee County Planning Board.

August 4, 2020 - 7:50pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in notify, news, Oakwood Hills, Batavia Town Planning Board.

The Batavia Town Planning Board tonight saw no problem with the Oakwood Hills developer’s plan to subdivide a duplex to expedite a sale of one half of the dwelling at 5169-5171 Loral Oak Way.

Oakwood Hills is the 100-acre housing tract located off of East Main Street Road, adjacent to Seven Springs Road and across from Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park.

Developer Peter Zeliff applied for a minor lot subdivision in the residential zone after attracting a buyer for one half of the duplex.

“The plan all along was to build duplexes on some of lots and sell people a half a duplex – like a patio home or townhome the way it’s done in other places,” Zeliff said. “I have one of the halves sold, so now we have to split the lot with a zero lot line – the property division will go right through the house, the dividing wall of the duplex. I need to get this done so we can close the sale.”

Zeliff said the buyer is an individual moving into the area to work at HP Hood in the agribusiness park.

Before the unanimous vote to approve Zeliff’s application, Planning Board Member Paul McCullough asked if there were any deed restrictions or “provisions to prevent (the owner of) one side putting up a steel roof versus an asphalt roof or changing the color of the siding.”

Zeliff said that attorneys are drafting a “condominium agreement” that would require owners of both sides to place money into escrow (for potential changes) and to go before the Homeowner Association for review and final approval.

About 30 homes are occupied at Oakwood Hills, of which six are duplexes, said Zeliff, adding that he is looking to similarly subdivide the other five.

He asked planners if he would be able to apply to have the other five subdivided as a group prior to any future half-duplex sales, and Chairperson Kathy Jasinski said she thought that was a reasonable request.

Zeliff said that Ryan Homes built 15 houses last year and, currently, three homes are under construction. He also said that he sold six more lots this year.

The cost of the lots ranges from $30,000 for a 60- by 150- to 200-foot parcel to $70,000 for a lot of almost an acre, Zeliff said. Homes generally start at $190,000.

In another development, Building Inspector Daniel Lang said HP Hood officials indicated they are planning an addition to the plant’s refrigeration warehouse unit, but haven’t submitted an application yet.

July 7, 2020 - 8:20pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia Town Planning Board.

The Batavia Town Planning Board tonight approved two special use permits – one for the building of a home on Clinton Street Road and the other for construction of a pond on Stegman Road.

Voting via Zoom videoconferencing, planners OK'd an application by Daniel Hale for a special use permit and area variances to put up an 1,840-square-foot single-family home on a vacant lot at 5210 Clinton Street Road in a Commercial District.

Previously, the area variances were approved by the Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, and both the special use permit and variances were recommended for approval by the Genesee County Planning Board.

The variances were necessary in regard to the lot size, lot frontage and side yard setback. The proposed lot size is 14,560 square feet (minimum required: 40,000 square feet), the existing and proposed lot frontage is 60 feet (minimum required: 200 feet), and the proposed side yard setbacks are 17 and 24 feet (minimum required: 30 feet).

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said his staff supports the project, considering the neighborhood in the area of Terry Hills Golf Course is predominantly residential, and the specific lot couldn’t accommodate anything other than a single-family house.

The board also voted in favor of a special use permit request by Joshua Bailey, of Bergen, to construct a two-acre pond on a 51-acre parcel in an Agricultural-Residential District at 3007 Stegman Road.

Previously, county planners recommended approval with modifications relating to having an archaeological survey conducted and submitted for review, and having a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan in place prior to final approval from the Town.

Town planners reported that the applicant has met the preceding requirements and, after determining the project would have no adverse environmental effects on the property, the board gave its go-ahead – with a stipulation that it receives a final engineer’s report.

October 15, 2019 - 8:37pm


The Batavia Town Planning Board has a new and permanent message for developers of ground-mounted solar farms – “run for cover.”

Planners, at their monthly meeting tonight at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road, voted unanimously to adopt the document, “Solar Array Pollinator Habitat Planting Guidelines,” prepared by the Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District and to incorporate the guidelines into the required special use permit.

“I feel that we’re being proactive here and we welcome other communities to contact Soil & Water if they wish to utilize these guidelines,” said Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski.

Two weeks ago, the board heard a presentation from Bradley Mudrzynski, district manager for GCSWCD, who drafted a proposal covering topics related to the pollination and ground cover of the solar array.

The document’s topics include the need for and development of planting guidelines, site preparation, species mix, area required for planting, maintenance and performance standards.

The board was concerned about the percentage of the solar farm that should be planted, settling on 80 percent of the acreage inside the fenced-in area.

The guidelines call for a minimum of 80 percent of the solar area located within the fenced limits to be planted to perennial native vegetation, while the remaining 20 percent of the area is allowed to be maintained roadways, accessory structures, concrete pads, etc., necessary for management and maintenance of the solar array.

The document also requires mowing two to three times per growing season for the first two growing seasons to kill fast-growing annual weeds.

Prior to the official adoption of the planting guidelines, planners fielded questions from Daniel Yanosh and Tom Healy, project managers for a proposed 19.8-acre, 4-megawatt solar farm at 3565 Galloway Road, about the required percentage of pollination within the fenced-in area.

Yanosh and Healy were back in front of the board for a third time as they sought a special use permit and site plan review approval to move ahead.

Healy asked in a couple of different ways if area outside the fence could be considered when figuring the ground cover percentage, but was met with the same response: 80 percent of the area within the fenced-in area must be seeded with some sort of flowering vegetation.

Previously, Yanosh and Healy reported that they had made revisions to the site plan requested by the board (more screening with trees). Last night, they said they will be working with National Grid to keep the number of utility poles to a minimum.

Their latest information was enough to earn unanimous favorable votes on both the special use permit and site plan, with both measures contingent upon a final engineering review, adherence to the new pollinator guidelines and acquisition of a decommissioning bond.

Jasinski noted that the pollinator guidelines will apply to ground-mounted solar farms already in operation in the Town, with inspections by the zoning department being scheduled.

Photo: Daniel Yanosh, left, and Tom Healy speak to town planners about their Galloway Road solar farm project. Photo by Mike Pettinella. 

July 16, 2019 - 9:15pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, Batavia Town Planning Board, Borrego Solar Systems.

The Batavia Town Planning Board tonight set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Aug. 20 on an application by Borrego Solar Systems LLC, of Lowell, Mass., to install an 8.99 megawatt ground-mounted solar farm on Batavia Elba Townline Road, just west of Batavia Stafford Townline Road.

Emilie Flanagan, project developer for Borrego, and Marc Kenward, engineer for Erdman Anthony of Rochester, presented the plan for the 20.45-acre solar system to be built on land owned by Dan Underhill, a Batavia Town Board deputy supervisor.

Kenward said the project would consist of 43,355 solar panels placed in a fenced-in area of 19.94 acres with an additional half an acre to be used for an access driveway.

He said four utility poles will be needed – one more than usual since power will be supplied from across the road, which actually is in the Town of Stafford.

Flanagan emphasized that the panels will go on farm land that is in a valley and will be hidden by nearly 200 trees and landscaping to “have the least amount of impact as possible on neighboring homes.”

Kenward said engineers have made sure that the project meets or exceeds all Town of Batavia zoning codes and have received approval from the Genesee County Planning Board, which recommended that the 20-foot access driveway be eliminated or significantly reduced due to its impact upon the soil.

“We’re doing whatever the Town says we need to do,” Kenward noted. “It’s environmentally friendly; there needs to be little tree and stump removal and it will be enclosed by a 7-foot-high chain-link fence.”

He said glare studies showed that there will be no effect upon the (Genesee County) airport or on the ground.

The board also voted to seek lead agency status for a state environmental quality review.

Kenward said he hopes the permit process will be completed by September, setting the stage for construction over the winter.

In recent weeks, Borrego received approvals for two other solar farms, both on West Main Street Road.

Flanagan, responding to a question about whether the community benefits from projects such as these, said Borrego’s systems are part of the Community Solar program.

“Two weeks ago, the governor (Andrew Cuomo) came out and said that the state has to achieve 70 percent renewable energy by 2030,” she said. “What we build are mid-scale power plants that push electricity back to the local grid. Residents can subscribe to the grid (through their power company) to get discounts.”

She also said benefits come to the Town through building permits and to the county through property taxes.

Owners of the property receive payments from solar companies such as Borrego over a 25-year period, while solar leasing companies profit from selling electricity usually at a lower rate than charged by a utility company and from municipal tax credits.

In other action, the planning board:

-- Approved a site plan review for six to 10 temporary vendor areas on the property of Batavia Starter at 3282 W. Main Street Road, just west of Wortendyke Road.

Owner Phil Hinrich told planners that he hopes to attract vendors – sellers of fruit and vegetables, crafts, antiques, etc. – to set up shop in front of his business on the weekends in hope of increasing his bottom line.

“I have space to put four vendors on one side and six on the other, with lots of room behind the building for parking,” he said. “My goal is to generate some extra money to cover taxes.”

His plan has been approved by the Genesee County Planning Board, pending Hinrich’s acquisition of a driveway permit through the state Department of Transportation. Hinrich said he already has the permit and plans to put up temporary “enter” and “exit” signs to ensure proper traffic flow.

Hinrich said he would like to open the vendor area to the public in the summer months until around Labor Day, but may not be able to get the venture off the ground until next year. Planners asked him to report back to them in the spring for an update on the project.

-- Set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Aug. 6 in connection with a special use permit by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse to develop an indoor recreation facility for recovering addicts at the former Bohn’s Restaurant site at 5258 Clinton Street Road.

Town Building Inspector Daniel Lang reported that the agency’s planned use for the building does fit into the town code since it is in a commercial zone.

He brought up the possibility of a reverse PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) to the Town as a result of the property coming off the tax rolls.

GCASA was unsuccessful in finding a place in the City of Batavia as it was hit with opposition from residents and council members.

“Maybe we, too, will have some opposition,” said Planning Board Chairperson Kathy Jasinski. “We’ll find out.”

Both the solar farm and GCASA public hearings will take place at the Batavia Town Hall on West Main Street Road.

-- Approved the placement of three signs at Fresenius Kidney Care at 4189 Veterans Memorial Drive (near Home Depot).

Edward “Jay” Hurzy of Sign and Lighting Services Co. of Ontario (N.Y.) said three signs will be erected – one on the pole, one on the building and one (with a brick base) by the road.

June 19, 2019 - 11:01am

The Town of Batavia Planning Board on Tuesday night approved, with contingencies, special use permits and site plan reviews for a pair of 20-acre ground-mounted commercial solar systems on West Main Street Road.

The board voted in favor of the application by Borrego Solar Systems Inc. of Lowell, Mass., to build the solar farms on land owned by Fred Bowman and his sister, Mary Anne Forgie, at 3232 and 3104 W. Main Street Road.

The vote on the property at 3232 W. Main Street Road was unanimous for both the special use permit and site plan review, with the exception of an abstention by Donald Partridge.

Regarding the 3104 W. Main Street Road parcel, the vote was 5-1 on the special use permit with Jeremy Liles voting no and Partridge abstaining, and 6-0 on the site plan review with Partridge abstaining.

Partridge said he is looking to put a solar farm on his land and abstained because he thought it would be inappropriate for him to be voting on someone else’s project.

The other committee members who voted were Steve Tanner, Paul McCullough, Paul Marchese, Jonathan Long and Chairperson Kathy Jasinski.

“It’s time to take action; we’ve being doing this (particular project) for months and months,” Jasinski said.

During that time, the board was confronted with opposition to the application pertaining to 3104 W. Main Street Road, primarily from Michael and Joel Hamm of West Main Street Commons LLC, who own an L-shaped 33-acre parcel of property with its northern frontage at 3080 W. Main Street Road.

Their business, First Choice Travel, -- a two-story, 14,000-square-foot office building with ample parking -- is located on the property.

The Hamms, in a letter dated May 3, 2019 from their attorney, Alario & Fischer P.C., brought up several reasons why the solar farm should not be situated on land immediately south and east of their property, including:

-- A potential decrease in property values in a residential/light commercial area;
-- Environmental impact on existing land;
-- Placement of an access road between two residential properties;
-- Visual factors, such as glare, utility poles and wires.

The letter called for a complete visual analysis by the applicant (Borrego) and questioned the validity of the state environmental quality review (SEQR).

After attending the Town Planning Board meeting on May 7, the Hamms sent another letter via their attorney, acknowledging the board’s decision to require Borrego to provide a “visual impact analysis and visual simulations from various vantage points around the proposed property.”

However, they continued to challenge Borrego’s choice of the firm to conduct the analysis, questioning its expertise, and did not accept Borrego’s view that any adverse impact on the area would be “inconclusive” and the planners’ announcement that the SEQR has been completed. They asked that the board take more time to get the data needed to make a “thoughtful, informed decision.”

Neither Joel nor Michael Hamm was at Tuesday night’s meeting. Phone calls to both this morning were not returned by the posting of this story.

Last night’s approvals by the planning board for both the special use permits and site plan reviews do come with certain conditions.

For the special use permits, approval is subject to Genesee County providing fire training in connection with solar farms (coordinated through the East Pembroke Fire Department), making sure plantings and trees are placed to screen the solar farm from neighboring properties, and that conduits are buried properly.

Regarding the site plan reviews, approval is contingent upon obtaining a decommissioning bond and ensuring that engineers have final design approval.

Jasinski said that the board agreed to require enough plantings around the site, decreased the number of poles from five to three, and required that most of the wires (except those on the poles) are buried.

Steve Long, civil engineer for Borrego Solar, said his company “addressed the concerns of the board,” specifically providing the “visual analysis that the board asked for.”

Borrego has entered into a lease agreement with Bowman and Forgie, who said they feel they can “get more out of the land this way.”

Long said construction on the solar system could take place by the end of the year.

Batavia environmentalist Chris Krtanik was another interested observer at last night’s proceedings. He said he is “opposed generally” to these types of projects because they usually don’t benefit the average homeowner.

“I’d like to see tax subsidies for individual homeowners, not for (private enterprise),” he said. “That would be a more efficient way to taking dependency off the main (electric) grid.”

In other developments, planners did not address a site plan review for temporary vendor areas on the Batavia Starter property at 3282 W. Main Street Road since owner Phil Hinrich was not present, and delayed taking action on lead agency status for a proposed solar farm installation on Ellicott Street Road until after consultation with the town attorney.

December 19, 2018 - 9:24am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia Town Planning Board, HP Hood.

The Batavia Town Planning Board on Tuesday night advanced a pair of projects – one industrial and the other residential – to the public hearing stage next month.

Planners lined up in favor of a 4,000-square-foot boiler room expansion at HP Hood LLC, 5140 Ag Park Drive West, an endeavor that will give the food processing facility greater capacity as business increases.

Kevin Moyer, the company’s project engineer manager, and Scott Blair, construction project manager for Design Group out of Concord, N.H., addressed the board during the site plan review.

Moyer said the addition will be adjacent to the existing boiler room with a roll-up door at the front.

Construction specifications are consistent with the rest of the building, Blair added.

 “(The project) is redundancy more than anything else,” Moyer said, noting that putting in a third boiler gives the facility a spare during times of inspection and the expansion provides room for a fourth in the future.

The request, which the board said does not pose any significant adverse environmental impact, will go to the Town Zoning Board of Appeals on Jan. 14 for a public hearing and back to the Town Planning Board the next night.

Planners also set a public hearing for Jan. 15 to consider a special use permit to allow Maren and Matt Holman of 45 Edgewood Drive to operate an appointment-only hair salon as a Home Occupation 1 in a Residential District.

Maren, a licensed cosmetologist for 14 years, and her husband have set up a 200-square-foot room behind the garage of their ranch home for the business.

Planners inquired about the Genesee County Planning Board’s recommendation that a turn-around on the driveway should be included to prevent customers from having to back their vehicles into the street.

Matt Holman said that is their plan but, for the time being, there is a 15-foot wide driveway of asphalt fillings that would act as a turn-around.

February 21, 2018 - 7:09am

It took 45 minutes of thoughtful discussion about pedestrian safety, sidewalk design/construction costs and comprehensive plans on Tuesday night for the Town of Batavia Planning Board to decide to grant approval of an Ohio developer’s site plan for a proposed 9,000-square-foot Dollar General store at the corner of West Main Street Road and Barrett Drive in the hamlet of East Pembroke.

The endorsement of the project comes with a major stipulation – Zaremba Group, which specializes in build-to-suit retail development programs for retailers across the country, must contribute $10,000 to a sidewalk fund should the Batavia Town Board desire that a sidewalk be built on the property, extending to an existing sidewalk on nearby East Avenue.

Todd Hamula, senior development manager for the Lakewood, Ohio firm, addressed planners for a second time, fresh off approval by the Town Zoning Board of Appeals permitting the developer to reduce the number of parking spaces from the required 46 to 30.

He was seeking site plan approval from the planning board, pointing out some changes in the layout and details of a stormwater retention pond.

The revised plan also includes a short stretch of sidewalk on the property, which, according to Hamula, “gives (the Town) the ability to connect in the future to East Avenue.”

However, Town Engineer Steve Mountain -- after noting that issues such as the pond being close to a residence and the store’s driveway being about 12 feet wider than the desired 24 feet were “not difficult to overcome” – said that he was in favor of sidewalk from East Avenue to the store “to prevent residents from walking in the road (Route 5).”

“Sidewalks are something we have batted around a lot,” said Mountain, adding that the Town has considered forming a sidewalk district to reach its long-term goal of a “walkable community” per its comprehensive plan for the hamlet. “I believe sidewalks are prudent … and recommend completing that loop.”

At that point, planners began debating whether to approve the site plan with sidewalks (about 260 feet of 5-foot-wide sidewalk would be needed) or without sidewalks, and wondering aloud who would be responsible for the cost.

Mountain said he figured the cost to be in the $5,000 to $10,000 range if the developer were to put the sidewalk in, to which Hamula countered that “it’s going to be every bit of 20 to 25 thousand.”

Hamula said he was under the impression that previous negotiations with county and town officials resulted in the Zaremba Group not having to put in a sidewalk that connected with East Avenue.

He then proposed a contribution of $5,000 toward a sidewalk – calling it an “impact fee” – as long as the Town put it in.

“That (building the sidewalk) would be a daunting task for a private developer,” he said.

Mountain stuck to his guns, stating that the Town wouldn’t be building a sidewalk if not for the Dollar General project, and that “it would cost us 35 to 40 percent more than a private developer.”

He also warned the board that the Town could be liable if a pedestrian was hit by a car walking in the road, and urged the board to approve the site plan either with a sidewalk or without a sidewalk.

A couple different motions were presented. One called for granting approval based on the Town paying for engineering and permit costs and the developer being responsible for putting the sidewalk in, but that was withdrawn.

Board member Paul McCullough then asked Hamula if he would be willing to put $10,000 toward a sidewalk fund.

Hamula said he would agree to a cap of $10,000, and minutes later, the board made a motion to approve the site plan without sidewalks with the developer agreeing to contribute $10,000 toward a sidewalk fund should the Town of Batavia want sidewalks and also contingent upon the developer fulfilling other engineering requests.

It was approved 7-0, as was a second motion – a recommendation to the Town Board to include a sidewalk extending from the store to East Avenue when considering the plan.

Afterward, Hamula said he hopes to break ground on the $1.3 million project around Memorial Day and have it completed by Labor Day. He said it will employ eight to 12 people, including a full-time manager, and will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

In other action, the board approved site plans of the new Town of Batavia Fire Department substation on Stringham Drive and the expansion of the Classy Chassy Carwash on Veterans Memorial Drive.

The fire department recently announced plans to build a $3.2 million station to replace Station 2 on Clinton Street Road. The proposal was recommended for approval by the Genesee County Planning Board as long as a Department of Transportation permit pertaining to an entrance to the 10,000-square-foot substation was obtained.

Representatives of Clark Patterson Lee, the engineering firm hired by the department, said that an application for the permit is in process.

Jeff Arnold of Clifton Springs, owner of Classy Chassy, is planning a $200,000 addition to the facility’s Eco-Soft Wash, expanding the tunnel wash from 40 to 100 feet.

He said the addition will not alter the traffic flow and will retain enough room for drivers to exit after using a revamped vacuum center and for emergency vehicles to maneuver around the property.

On Monday, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved an area variance for Classy Chassy, reducing the building setback from the required 30 feet to 18 ½ feet.

December 19, 2017 - 8:07pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia Town Planning Board, Oakwood Estates.


A unanimous vote by the Batavia Town Planning Board for a variance to subdivide 35 parcels at Oakwood Estates on East Main Street Road is sure to brighten the Christmas season for real estate developer Peter Zeliff (photo at right).

The board, at its meeting at Batavia Town Hall tonight, voted 5-0 (three members were absent) to split the two-family home lots into 70 parcels with variances, waivers and conditions reviewed as applied for by Zeliff.

This action opens the door for Zeliff to contract with Ryan Homes to build 70 single-family, two-story homes on the site, with the houses ranging in size from 1,500- to 2,500-square feet.

When asked if this lifts a weight off his shoulders, Zeliff replied, “Definitely,” adding that he has been sitting on a more than $5 million investment for about four years.

During that time, he has sold 12 lots and built homes on seven, but, as a result of the board’s vote, there are now a total of 128 lots on the development.

“Ryan Homes came to me and they feel they can fill a spot in the market that isn’t taken care of here (in Genesee County),” Zeliff said. “That’s the (homes that sell for) $175,000 to $250,000.”

Zeliff told the board that the majority of the subdivided lots are situated on the south and west side of the development, and will have a minimum of 60 feet of frontage.

“Duplexes haven’t gone over real big. People don’t want to buy half of a duplex. I thought it would go over well, but it hasn’t,” Zeliff said, adding that the subdivision will not increase the amount of traffic or the number of occupants.

Zeliff said his initial plan was to build the development in three phases, but he then changed his mind – building out the entire property.

He said all lots have city water and sewer, electric and cable; the selling price of the lots starts at $30,000.

In other action, the board approved an application by Ulrich Signs of Lockport to build a new sign for the Five Start Urgent Care project on Veterans Memorial Drive, a structure next to Home Depot that also will include QDOBA Mexican Eats restaurant.

The board proposed a joint meeting with Batavia Town Board and Batavia Town Zoning Board of Appeals and tentatively scheduled it for 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Town Hall.

November 22, 2017 - 11:40am


As they approach the Thanksgiving holiday, Tim and Amanda Gleba are thankful for being able to “live off the land” on their 50-acre organic farm and, most recently, for the Batavia Town Planning Board’s approval to build a pond for agricultural purposes.

Town planners on Tuesday night OK'd a special use permit for the couple to construct a half-acre pond behind their home at 3726 South Main Street Road.

 “The pond will be used for irrigation and for watering our livestock,” Tim said, adding that working the farm is a labor of love. “It’s a hobby of ours; something we really enjoy.”

Both Tim and Amanda, Batavia High School graduates who got married in June 2016, have full-time professions.

He is a precision machining instructor for Genesee Valley Educational Partnership at the Batavia campus on State Street Road, and Amanda (maiden name, Torrey) is a senior food tech at Perry Ice Cream in Akron.

They farm about five acres of their property, growing organic vegetables and keeping free-range chickens for eggs, Tim said. They are working toward certification through the Northeast Organic Farming Association.

The Glebas also planted Christmas trees that will be ready for sale in about five years, and plan to develop a certified tree farm.

The couple says they are committed to this lifestyle -- and sharing the fruits of their labor with others. They credited Tom Ryan of Ryan’s Rose Organic Farm on Rose Road for helping them in their endeavor.

“We’re homesteaders,” Amanda said. “That was the main thing that got us started … for us to benefit from the land. Now, the community can benefit as well.”

Public participation is possible due to the fact that Gleba Farms LLC is a Community Supported Agriculture farm that offers yearly memberships to people interested in obtaining their vegetables and eggs. Vegetables include corn, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, squash and pumpkins.

When available (produce is seasonal, of course), folks can come to the farm to pick up their vegetables, Amanda said, noting that membership dues enable them to keep the service going.

The Glebas also sell meat from heritage breed turkeys and American guinea hogs (a gourmet meat), which they send out for processing.

For more information about the CSA, go to www.glebafarmsny.com.

Tim said they will start work on the pond next May or June. The only requirement of the special use permit is that town engineers must approve the design to ensure that elevations and overflow systems are built correctly.

In other action, Planners:

-- Set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Dec. 19 in connection with the proposed re-subdivision by developer Peter Zeliff at Oakwood Estates off East Main Street Road.

The modifications, which have been approved by the Town Zoning Board of Appeals, focus on dividing 35 parcels into 70 parcels, paving the way to build duplexes or smaller single-family homes.

-- Approved a request for two signs at the new T-Mobile location at 8400 Lewiston Road, next to Total Tan. The business was expected to open today.

-- Learned that QDOBA Mexican Eats will occupy the building on Veterans Memorial Drive, next to Home Depot, that is being constructed to also house Five Star Urgent Care. The structure is about 25 percent complete.

QDOBA, according to Wikipedia, is a chain of fast casual restaurants in the United States and Canada serving Mexican-style cuisine. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Jack in the Box since its purchase from ACI Capital, Western Growth Capital, and other private investors in 2003.

There are QDOBA locations in the Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Rochester areas.

Photo -- Amanda and Tim Gleba at Gleba Farms LLC. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

September 5, 2017 - 8:38pm


The Batavia Town Planning Board on Tuesday night approved the placement of three face lit, red, white and blue acrylic wall signs for the proposed Five Star Urgent Care project on Veterans Memorial Drive, adjacent to The Home Depot.

Tracey Diehl, expeditor for the national chain of walk-in clinics that treat people with illnesses and injuries and perform physicals, immunizations and X-rays, said that the 16-foot-high signs each measure 133.12 square feet and will allow patrons to identify Five Star Urgent Care when coming from all directions.

“We wanted to make the signs (depicting the firm’s red, white and blue logo) equal in size so that they don’t look awkward,” Diehl told the board. “They will be face lit and made of acrylic with a vinyl overlay.”

Diehl said the site, which has yet to be developed, is close to The Home Depot and the NYS Thruway, with visibility from Veterans Memorial Drive, the Thruway and Park Road.

Previously, Five Star Urgent Care’s variance requests were approved by the Town Zoning Board of Appeals and recommended for approval by the Genesee County Planning Board.

According to the company’s website, there are 12 locations in New York, including Jamestown, Geneva, Ithaca and Plattsburgh. Diehl said that “six more sites are in the process” of being finalized.

She also noted that there are some in other states.

The New York locations were founded in 2012 by Dr. John Radford, a physician based in Ellicottville who spent time as an emergency department employee in Batavia early in his more than 20-year career.

Diehl said that a major benefit provided by Five Star Urgent Care is that it takes walk-ins. Plans are to open by the end of the year.

In other action, the board approved a site plan and the construction of one building for Gateway GC LLC’s commercial office building/parking lot project in the Gateway II Corporate Park on Call Parkway off West Saile Drive.

Further expansion, however, would be subject to the completion of conditions from the original list of Gateway II park improvements that focus on traffic flow and a water main.

According to David Ciurzynski, project manager for general contract Manning Squires Hennig Co. Inc., the $2.6 million plan calls for the construction of five 27,00-square-foot buildings with ample landscaping featuring several varieties of trees, including maples, oaks, chestnuts and birch.

Board Chairperson Kathy Jasinski noted the importance of proper landscaping.

“This is something that I was interested in, since you will be setting the bar," she said. "For anything that follows, we would like to keep the same look."

Town Engineer Steve Mountain pointed out that there could be traffic flow issues as buildings are added to the site, adding that the expense of highway improvements would likely be split among developers, the Genesee County Economic Development Center and state and/or federal grants.

Ciurzynski said that his company is working with GCEDC to complete Call Parkway (a path to Route 98) and the water lines needed to service the buildings.

He said that the project “doesn’t work if we have (approval for) only one building,” adding that his company already has attracted a possible tenant for the first building.

June 21, 2017 - 9:41am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia Town Planning Board, Fleet Maintenance.

Town of Batavia planners on Tuesday night approved a special use permit and site plan review for Fleet Maintenance Inc., a 16-bay truck repair facility that will be situated on State Street Road, adjacent to the New York State Thruway.

"We did a lot of work on it (this project) and investigated the neighbors' concerns over water drainage and traffic," said Kathy Jasinski, planning board chairperson. "I believed we addressed them all and while some may not be happy with everything, we think this is a good fit (for that area)."

The special use permit was needed to address the hours of operation for the business, which, according to Jasinski, have been set at 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, "expanded hours" on Saturday and closed on Sunday.

Planners voted 6-1 in favor of granting the special use permit, with Paul McCullough voting no, and unanimously approved the site plan.

Jasinski said that owner Debbie Gawron, of West Seneca, indicated that there would be around 10 to 12 trucks at the facility per day.

Previously, the owners went before the Genesee County Planning Board.

Reportedly, the business will employ around 35 people. No timetable for construction was given, Jasinski said.

In another development, the board set a public hearing for July 18 for the Muckdog Solar II Project, a 2 megawatt solar farm proposed for Pearl Street Road, across from Hopkins Road.

Jasinski said a special use permit is required since the project is entering a second phase. 

February 8, 2017 - 8:47am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia Town Planning Board, solar farms.

As Batavia Town planners moved a pair of solar farm projects ahead Tuesday night, they debated the ramifications of more of these ventures upon agricultural land in the future.

The planning board approved seeking lead agency status for state environmental quality review for 11-acre solar farms on properties owned by Thomas Lichtenthal at 8169 Bank Street Road and Call Farms at 7755 Oak Orchard Road.

Both landowners are working with ForeFront Power to repurpose a portion of their 93-acre and 83.5-acre parcels, respectively, to connect to the power grid and generate about two megawatts of power each – enough electricity to service about 300 homes.

In typical solar farm agreements, property owners receive “rent” for using their land, which becomes a vehicle to produce electricity from a clean, renewable source -- while the solar company benefits by selling the solar power to the utility company.

The Lichtenthal and Call farms proposals first came to the planning board in December 2015.

Genesee County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari reported that the area to be used on the Call Farms property was not prime land for farming, while the Bank Street Road site is in an archeologically sensitive area and will need additional documentation.

Following their positive lead agency votes, board members and Oltramari discussed the solar farm issue in the context of the loss of prime agricultural land.

As the only town in the county that has zoning for solar farms, Oltramari said the protection of farm land “could become an issue as you get more of these” projects.

Planner Lou Paganello said he could see things getting out of hand.

“I didn’t think we’d be talking about giving up to 100 acres,” he said. “Where do we stop things from getting out of control? What are our options?

“Looking at the long term, we could have 50, 100 or 200 of these coming in. We need to know our legal rights and limits.”

Code Enforcement Officer Daniel Lang reminded board members that they had previously discussed solar farms at length and had decided to allow them as long as they didn’t exceed 20 acres.

“I think we should have done it (consider other restrictions) then, not after we’ve received applications,” he said.

Planner Jeremy Liles agreed with Lang, adding “how can we regulate the way someone uses their land?”

Town Engineer Steve Mountain noted that the local law was enacted to limit solar farms in size and that the special use permit process “gives us more say” concerning the most beneficial use of the land – a point echoed by Lang.

While some said they foresee many more solar farm applications down the road, planner Paul Marchese said he wasn’t so sure of that.

“I don’t think there will be an explosion because of the requirements that they (solar farms) need to be so close to the (power) grid,” he said.

In other developments:

-- Planners approved the construction of a 64-foot by 150-foot open air pavilion that would be attached to the existing building at the Bontrager Auctions site at 8975 Wortendyke Road. Voting came after planners determined that the project would have no impact upon the environment.

Owner Todd Jantzi said he will employ Dave Bennett Construction to build the pavilion, starting in March. He said that the covered structure, which will replace a tent, will enable him to conduct auctions year-round.

-- The board discussed a proposal by Pellegrino Auto Sales to put on a three-bay addition, measuring 1,200 square feet, at the dealership located at 4060 Pearl Street Road.

This proposal needs to go through the variance process, starting with the Genesee County Planning Board to the Town Zoning Board of Appeals and back to the Town Planning Board.

-- Town Engineer Steve Mountain said that the town has completed three of four required “high-impact actions” toward its goal of achieving Clean Energy Communities status and earning one of 14 grants in the Genesee/Finger Lakes Region -- 10 at $50,000 and four at $100,000 -- through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority program.

Mountain said that the town has successfully implemented the Benchmarking, Unified Solar Permit and Energy Code Enforcement Training actions, and expects to finish the LED Street Lights component by this summer. The town has about 70 street lights that need to be converted to energy-efficient LEDs.

On Monday night, City of Batavia officials attended a presentation on the program, which was reported on The Batavian.

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