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Batavia Town Planning Board

January 21, 2022 - 9:08am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia Town Planning Board, solar.

Members of the Batavia Town Planning Board are giving high marks to the committee that has been working on revising the town’s solar law over the past few months.

Planners discussed the committee’s progress at their meeting Tuesday night, agreeing that the latest draft presented to the public – while in need of a few tweaks – represents a major step toward rules and regulations that remove most of the guesswork for those desiring to install solar farms and for their neighbors.

“It’s a roadmap for developers .. the rules are pretty straightforward,” said board member Steve Tanner, one of four planning board members on the committee (the others being Don Partridge, Paul McCullough and Brittany Witkop).

Tanner said that guidelines concerning landscaping, screening, setbacks, fencing and size of the project will make it easier for solar companies to develop their proposals.

McCullough concurred, stating that a law that is documented and codified will leave “very little interpretation as to what can and cannot happen.”

Witkop and Partridge said they appreciated input from the public – with Witkop noting that the group is looking to modify some of the setback requirements as a result of comments from citizens at an informational session last month.

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang termed changing some of the setbacks “a realistic vision” and said the process is nearing the point of conducting a State Environmental Quality Review, public hearing and county review.

Town Engineer Steve Mountain said that he reviewed the proposed solar law as well.

“It included all of the circumstances and ambiguities we’ve seen over the past five years,” he said.

Committee Chair Chad Zambito, a town council member, has indicated a final draft will be ready in a couple weeks.

In other Town of Batavia news, Supervisor Gregory Post reported that 11 building permits for residential homes were issued in 2021, with an assessed value of $4.1 million, and that 26 commercial/industrial permits were issued, “which generated several tens of millions of dollars in assessed value.”

Post said that projects on Route 98, Park Road and King’s Plaza (water main) as well as meter renewal are ramping up, leading to a “positive forecast for the community’s economic portfolio …”

Also, the Town Board voted to continue its support of the Batavia Soccer Park on Bank Street Road at the $10,000 annual level for two more years.

Previously: Town solar committee asked to 'revisit' setback distances

November 16, 2021 - 10:31pm

The Batavia Town Planning Board tonight approved a special use permit for New York Bus Sales to operate a school bus service and sales facility at 4450 West Saile Drive -- located at the intersection of Call Parkway.

After the board declared lead agency status for the State Environmental Quality Review, member Steve Tanner went through the items on the form and then made a motion to accept it. The board agreed, issuing a “negative declaration” that denotes that the project would have no significant adverse impact upon the environment.

Lauren Rodriguez, civil engineer with LaBella Associates, asked the board about the company’s desire to merge two parcels, covering 6.9 acres, into one, and Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski replied that the Batavia Town Board is expected to rule on that at its meeting on Wednesday night.

The 20,000-plus square-foot facility is going into an area currently zoned both Industrial and Commercial. The company is looking for the town to rezone it as Commercial, an allowable action since it does fit into the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

New York Bus Sales Vice President James Johnston, who also attended the meeting, said plans call for a groundbreaking ceremony before winter.

Rodriguez and Johnson initially presented the plan to the town planning board in September. Prior to that, the company applied for tax abatements from the Genesee County Economic Development Center, and is waiting for the GCEDC's board decision in the near future.

In other action, the board issued a negative declaration for a SEQR in connection with Pierrepoint Visual Graphics’ request to place signage at the site of medical offices for UR Medicine in the Gateway II Industrial Park on Call Parkway.

Previously: GCEDC board of directors accepts application for New York Bus Sales facility in Town of Batavia

August 18, 2021 - 12:19pm


The Batavia Town Planning Board wants to see “a big idea” before passing judgment on developers David and Katie Ficarella’s proposal to construct what they are calling the Hickory Ridge Estates senior housing complex on the north side of Route 33 (Pearl Street Road), just over a mile west of the City of Batavia limits.

The Ficarellas, along with engineer John Schenne of Schenne & Associates, East Aurora, and general contractor Frank Lazarus of Lazarus Industries, Buffalo, appeared at the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday night to re-introduce their plan, which is estimated to cost $17 million upon full buildout.

The Lovers Lane Road couple, about 4 ½ years ago, presented a somewhat different idea - a 110-unit senior residential site, working with Calamar Enterprises of Wheatfield.  That failed to materialize, however, and they are back with a new plan that they hope to build in three phases.

While David Ficarella said he hoped the board would review the site plan of Phase 1 at this time – and deal with future phases later, Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski and Town Engineer Steve Mountain advised that the project needed to be submitted in its entirety.

“You can make it smaller if you want to later, but it’s better to do it all as a big idea,” Jasinski said.

Mountain concurred, stating that “the biggest thing that we need in order for the planning board to do a SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) is exactly what this project and any future phases entail.”


“The site plan … is more than sufficient to bring to the planning board. What we need now is ‘What’s the concept on Phase 1? Phase 2, and where’s the off-site sewer going,” he added. “Any improvements that are part of the project now or in the future have to be identified so they can look at the project as a whole under the environmental review.”

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said he has received Ficarella’s application, but won’t be able to forward it to the Genesee County Planning Board until the entire subdivision process is complete.

Mountain noted that the planning board needs to see where public roads will be put in, the location of private roadway, plans for private sewer and connecting to public sewer infrastructure, along with information about traffic flow.

The Ficarellas said that Phase 1 will consist of the construction of 40 duplex rentals for tenants age 55 and over on 20.629 acres, located across from Donahue Road, and stretching west along the state highway. All of the units will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Phase 2 calls for an additional 10 duplex rental units on 7 acres just north of the first phase, beyond the National Grid right-of-way that has been identified as a future extension of the Ellicott Trail.

Phase 3 is construction of either rental or custom build homes on 40 acres – extending Donahue Road to the west end of Edgewood Drive, which is part of the Meadowbrook Estates development.


Schenne, who said he designed the Meadowbrook Estates subdivision for (the late) Gary McWethy about 15 years ago, explained that he is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to obtain wetlands permits as about 25 percent of the Phase 1 parcel is wetlands.

Currently, a pond exists on the site and two other ponds for stormwater will be created as required by state law to get a stormwater permit, he noted.

“We have to collect the stormwater, detain it, treat it and release it,” he said. “And we’re not allowed to do that in the wetlands.”

He said the Phase 1 site will drain to Route 33, where there is a large drainage channel along the road, and eventually all of the project ponds will be connected with underground storm pipes and drain tubing.

When asked if the units had basements, he said that would not be the case, adding that the site being flat and having a high groundwater table “really doesn’t lend itself to basements.”

Schenne said the proposal also includes about 3,000 linear feet of water line.

“Gravity sewers would connect through an adjacent property that Dave controls at this point – to the east – and connect to the Meadowbrook subdivision,” he said. “There’s a lift station there and our sewers would dump into sanitary sewers there and run through their lift station to get to the city treatment plant.”


All utilities, cable television and telephone lines will be underground, said Ficarella, adding that he is working out the logistics with the utility companies and Spectrum.

“Everything is underway. We’re waiting to break ground as soon as we can,” he said.

Lazarus said his company will provide cold-rolled steel to be used to frame the units, instead of lumber, to help the developers keep construction costs “consistent.”

“We use this in the commercial environment .. extensive use in the multi-family and commercial side of things,” he said. “It does have all the engineering requirements for residential … and it doesn’t affect the comfort of the home in any way, shape or form.”

Concerning Phase 3, planner Paul Marchese questioned the plan to connect to Edgewood Drive, pointing out that there currently is only one entrance to and exit from the road.

“Gary (McWethy) was given the permission to expand to some of those but the requirement was that he had to put that point of egress unto (Route) 33 but it never happened,” Marchese said.

Schenne replied that it didn’t happen due to the exorbitant cost of putting in the roads and utilities, but things are different now.

“With this big development going here, the need for a secondary egress for emergency vehicles, plus the fact that we have a force main that we want to run across there, makes a lot of sense to connect this up,” he said, as he distributed a map of a site plan showing nine additional building lots at the west end of Edgewood.


Jasinski said that there has been much discussion about extending Edgewood Drive, “but this is the first time that it looks like it’s going to happen.”

Ficarella mentioned putting a multi-use facility on 1.75 acres in the southwest corner of the Phase 1 development, possibly a fuel station or store. Currently, it is zoned Agricultural-Residential, and would need a special use permit.

He was advised to include that – as well as details about Phase 2 units as it pertains to the future Ellicott Trail extension -- in the site plan for the entire scope of the project.

“Again, you have to hone in on exactly what it is you’re going to build,” Mountain advised. “And once you know that, that’s when we can review everything.

“Essentially, you need a draft plat mat, so if there are going to be future public roads going to Edgewood, we need to see that layout. It doesn’t have to be a ton of engineering, but it has to be enough to know that it will work – and it all has to be laid out so we can review everything.”

Schenne said that he expects to have the requested drawings done by the planning board’s September meeting.


In other action, planners approved placement of a sign and the site plan for Zambito Realtors to open an office in a house the company recently purchased at 8329 Lewiston Rd., across the street from Applebee’s.

Lang said the sign would be placed 36 feet from the road and out of the right-of-way, and the site plan meets all existing town zoning regulations.

Owned by Rita Zambito and her son, Mark, the agency has three other locations – the main office in Medina and offices in Lockport and Orchard Park. Rita Zambito said about seven real estate agents will be working out of the Batavia site.

The renovation project includes siding, windows and removal of a breezeway to make room for a handicap ramp. Future plans call for widening the driveway to allow for more parking.

Photo: Presenting the Hickory Ridge Estates development proposal to the Batavia Town Planning Board last night are, from left, David and Katie Ficarella, and John Schenne. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: Lovers Lane Road couple's senior housing development off Pearl Street Road is back on the table | The Batavian

July 21, 2021 - 1:24pm


After waiting nearly three months for visual screening projections from representatives of a proposed 1.65-megawatt solar system on land owned by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp., the Batavia Town Planning Board got its wish Tuesday night and then took only 12 minutes to approve the site plan and special use permit for the project.

James Taravella, senior civil engineer with LaBella Associates in Orchard Park, had the visualizations in hand as he appeared before the board at its monthly meeting at the Batavia Town Hall on West Main Street Road.

The venture, known as Batavia Solar LLC, calls for the placement of the ground-mounted solar farm at 99 Med Tech Drive, off R. Stephen Hawley Drive across from Genesee Community College.

Taravella showed photos from three different vantage points – east of the property of Robert and Michelle Wood, who reside just east of the site; the corner of R. Stephen Hawley Drive, and the Med Tech Building parking lot. The photos depicted the location as it looks now, the expected condition at the time of planting, and projections five years from now and 10 years from now.

He also said he talked with the Woods earlier in the day and said the couple will be involved in the screening process throughout the project life.

“As we’re out there, they’re more than welcome to say, ‘Hey, can you move that over?’, and they can have direct input on their actual final placement because it’s right by their house,” Taravella said. “One of the things Michelle made really clear was that she would rather have this than have Benderson come in and build a plaza behind her house.”

Planning board member Steve Tanner said he appreciated the simulations but the solar panels, being on a perched hill, will be visible.

“No matter what you do, when you drive down the road, it’s still going to be there and you’re still going to see it,” he said, comparing it to the solar farm on Batavia-Elba Townline Road that is in plain sight.

Following Taravella’s brief presentation, planners accepted the site plan contingent upon town engineering approval and a decommissioning bond, and the special use permit that includes regular maintenance and the installation of no more than three utility poles.

Board approval had been delayed – and tabled -- three times due to the fact that the visual screening projections had not been submitted.

Photo: View from Med Tech Building parking lot, looking east. The Robert and Michelle Wood residence on Batavia Stafford Townline Road can be seen in the background. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

June 29, 2021 - 4:48pm

While not giving up on the Town of Batavia location completely, Brandon Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin in Bergen, figures he’s fighting a losing battle as far as developing an outdoor shooting range at the 22-acre parcel he owns at 3269 Harloff Road.

Acknowledging restrictions that come with the necessary special use permit from the Town of Batavia Planning Board and solid opposition from homeowners in that area, Lewis said he is changing up his game plan for the property.

“We’re going to move forward with some of our other business ventures as it does look less and less likely every day (that a shooting range will become a reality there) just because of the requirements set forth by the town,” Lewis said on Monday afternoon.

“(The revised plan) would include some of the other ideas I had, maybe not as full bore as I wanted to. I do like the property and I would like to keep it.”

Lewis, a Brockport resident who grew up in Genesee County, introduced his idea to place a shooting range/training facility, modest drive-in movie theater and small campground in March to the Genesee County Planning Board.

Since then, he has appeared before the town planning board on a few occasions but the proposal has been stuck in the mud for several reasons: planners’ justifiable request for specific details of Lewis’ plan; Lewis’ questioning of the constraints of the special use permit and; most notably, Harloff Road area residents’ objections to the shooting range over, primarily, noise and safety concerns.

“It’s not so much the town, but I don’t want to run a business where every neighbor is pitting against me,” Lewis said. “That’s certainly not how my shop in Bergen is. I think the community quite likes us out there.”

He said he understands the planning board is “just trying to do their duty” but isn’t ready to invest several hundred thousand dollars in an unreceptive environment.

“I just think no matter what I do, the residents – the locals – are just going to be against it. My neighbor here, Chris (Mosier) at Area 51. He’s been there how many years? And they’re giving him trouble, too,” he said.

Lewis said he continues to look into how he can proceed with the campground and drive-in ventures.

“The camping was never intended to be a 200 or 300 spot campsite. It will be like 20 spots at the most, and will be like dry camping or boondocking, basically,” he said. “It’s just a spot to do it inexpensively. There won’t be sewer. A lot of people questioned that project, too. Once we unveil the full project of it, they’ll see that there’s nothing to be worried about.”

On the drive-in, he said it could become a major undertaking.

“If you want to show current release movies, just the projection equipment alone is like $200,000 or $300,000, if not more,” he said. “Again, I’m not going to spend a half a million dollars needed to do everything to put in a drive-in, and then in a few years the neighbors say, ‘No, we don’t want it anymore,’ and they pull the special use permit.”

Lewis said he hasn’t contacted the planning board to have his referral placed on an agenda yet.

“I’m just regrouping – working with some of my other friends who are small business owners and seeing what kind of collaborations we can do together. I’m just trying to get something going out here so we can use the property and keep improving it,” he said.

As far as the outdoor shooting range is concerned, Lewis said he believes there is “a definite need” and he’s exploring other locations.

“We showed that there was a need for an indoor range like we offer (in Bergen) and I think the same thing – what we could do with an outdoor range, we still want to do,” he said. “We’re looking at properties that are more suited or better for us. If we can find a spot that’s great, we’re going to move forward with it. If anyone has land that could hold a 1,000-yard range, have them call me at (585) 494-0333.”

Previously: All jammed up. Shooting range proposal's lack of progress, commentary irritate Town of Batavia planners

June 17, 2021 - 10:06am

The third time apparently wasn’t the charm for the Batavia Town Board in its quest to receive visual screening projections from Batavia Solar LLC for a ground-mounted, 1.65-megawatt solar systems on vacant land owned by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. at 99 Med Tech Drive.

The issue has delayed the project, which will be located off R. Stephen Hawley Drive across from Genesee Community College, for several months as planners have requested – thus far unsuccessfully – for the developer to provide projection pictures of the screening around the solar panels.

Planners, at their Tuesday night meeting, took the referral off the table, thinking they would be ruling on a special use permit. But after a discussion about the visuals, they voted to place it back on the table.

The planning board maintains that one-, five- and 10-year simulations of how the property will look with adequate screenings are necessary to ensure the system is out of sight from the neighboring property of Robert and Michelle Wood.

Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski informed the board Tuesday that officials of the Genesee County Economic Development Center contacted her and indicated that the Woods “were agreeable to the (proposed) screening and they wondered if we could deal with this without doing the projection pictures.”

Planner Don Partridge said that he also talked to the couple.

“I feel we can get along without it (projection photos),” Partridge said. “(If)) they do a double row of pine trees there, I think that will be sufficient.”

His colleagues had different ideas, however.

Steven Tanner said he wanted to see how it would look, not only from Hawley Drive, but from other roads in the vicinity, and Jon Long agreed.

“We’ve requested it a couple times so I don’t think it’s that big of a cost to the project,” Long said. “And then we have it on file if there are any problems down the road.”

Paul McCullough said it would set “a dangerous precedent” by not obtaining the documentation, prompting Jeremy Liles to agree, before Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said he didn’t think it would be “appropriate to make exceptions.”

“I would remain consistent with everything we’ve done with every other solar. I suggest that we do require them to show us the actual detail,” Lang said.

As a result, a consensus to get the visualizations was reached, and all members, except Partridge, voted to put the referral back on the table once again.

Rising Water Levels at Ag Park

In another development, planners voted to adopt an amended version of the generic environmental impact statement for the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road in light of an increase in the daily amount of water being used at the facility.

Town Engineer Steve Mountain reported that the current water usage at the park, which is the home of HP Hood, has moved past the original 614,000 gallons per day threshold and that future projections put the usage at 1.8 million gallons per day.

“This is the first project that exceeded the original threshold in the generic environmental impact statement … by a significant amount,” Mountain said.

The project to which he was referring to is HP Hood’s installation of a 16-inch water main from the town line on Route 5 down to the Ag Park Drive entrance that will cross the road and tie into the park.

“That will be a direct connection to the Monroe County Water Authority water source,” Mountain said. “To date, all of the water has come directly out of the city on East Main and Cedar Street.”

Mountain said the reason for the change is “water chemistry.”

“The water authority water is very low in chlorides (low levels of chlorides prevent corrosion) and you can imagine how many pipes there are in the HP Hood facility. That will alleviate a lot of the corrosion issues that they’re having,” he explained.

While that will provide additional volume for the future, HP Hood also is building a new storage tank, which it will own. Mountain said the 16-inch water main will be dedicated to the Town of Batavia.

Mountain said the 1.8 million gallons per day level is the new threshold that is under consideration, adding that letters were sent out to involved agencies and businesses. He also noted that O-At-Ka Milk Products wishes to be included in the mix for more water.

He then advised planners it was up to them to determine whether they think it is a significant impact or a negative or minor impact (negative declaration). The board then voted to adopt a revision of the original finding statements for the Agri-Business Park as it pertains to the expanded water threshold.

May 18, 2021 - 9:25pm

The Batavia Town Planning Board, taking its lead from the Genesee County Planning Board and Batavia Town Zoning Board of Appeals, tonight approved a site plan for Bob Dickinson, owner of Dickinson’s Auto, to construct a truck storage building at his business at 4028 W. Main Street Road.

Dickinson had requested an area variance since the new building would be located 10 feet from the lot line instead of the required 30 feet in the Commercial District. County planners recommended approval of the variance last month, while the ZBA approved it at its meeting on Monday night.

“Mr. Dickinson is using the building to store trucks in the winter. He’s cleaned up the business … it looks good and I’m glad he’s doing what he is doing,” Town Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski said.

Town planners were scheduled to reconsider a special use permit request by Batavia Solar LLC for a ground-mounted solar system for the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. on R. Stephen Hawley Drive but did not take it “off the table” after learning that the solar firm wants further dialogue about the project.

A public hearing on the matter took place on Feb. 2 and the State Environmental Quality Review was completed on April 20.

In other developments:

  • Planners concurred with the ZBA, which last night approved an area variance for a modified parking space plan by Rochester Regional Health for a new 140,000-square-foot medical office building on Oak Orchard Road.

Consultants for RRH requested changing the parking spaces from 10- by 20-feet to 9- by 18-feet to allow for an access agreement with the town along the northern boundary of the site.

  • Jasinski set an onsite special use permit review for Area 51 Motocross on Harloff Road for 6 p.m. next Tuesday.
May 6, 2021 - 8:58am

The Batavia Town Planning Board -- not satisfied with the answers they received regarding screening from a neighboring couple’s home – on Tuesday night tabled for a second time a proposal to install a ground-mounted solar system off R. Stephen Hawley Drive, across from Genesee Community College.

Batavia Solar LLC is looking to acquire a special use permit to construct the 1.65-megawatt system on vacant land at 99 Med Tech Drive, owned by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp., which has an office in the nearby Med Tech building.

Town planners requested Kaelyn Roche and Jim Taravella, project representatives, to provide one-, five- and 10-year simulations of how the property will look with adequate screenings, such as trees and berms, to obscure the solar panels from the sight of Robert and Michelle Wood, who live at 8244 Batavia Stafford Townline Road.

This is what the board had asked for during an April 20 site plan review and special use permit request consideration, when it tabled the proposal until this week’s meeting. Apparently, the information provided on Tuesday is still insufficient.

Roche, project development manager with YSG Solar in New York City, said that she spoke to Michelle Wood and reported that “we basically came to an agreement that we would work with her down the road and determine what works best for her.”

Taravella, an engineer with LaBella Associates, said that the plan is to plant 15 white spruce trees behind the Wood property, noting that the couple’s garage would also serve as a shield from the solar panels.

“As we near construction we can work with them if they want something other than white spruce,” he said.

During the ensuing discussion, planner Paul Marchese asked if the Woods were given the option to have berms placed on the site.

“I told them they could do whatever they wanted,” Roche replied.

Previously, during a Feb. 2 public hearing, Michelle Wood specifically requested berms:

“We really would like a berm put along the back of it – it protects us and our house. 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.”

After Taravella pointed out that additional screening would be placed along the road to obscure it from traffic and that he would work to keep utility poles to a minimum (a planning board priority), Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski asked if it could be passed contingent upon Town Engineer Steve Mountain’s final review and approval.

Mountain and planner Jonathan Long brought up the need for visualizations – what the site would look like down the road, warning that it would be best to make sure everyone is on the same page before getting started.

All six planners at the meeting agreed, prompting Donald Partridge to recommend tabling the referral once again.

“I would like to see this tabled; I’m not ready to vote on it. I’d like to be able to talk to the Woods myself,” he said.

At that point, the board voted unanimously to table it and put it on the next agenda (May 18) as long as Taravella has enough time to provide the computer renderings requested.

The proposal calls for the installation of about 4,500 modules on the 7.95-acre parcel, of which 5.63 acres will be fenced in. Other aspects 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. 

In other action, the board approved a special use permit for a drive-thru for the Chipotle restaurant to be put into the existing commercial building at 4222 Veterans Memorial Drive – in space formerly occupied by Metro Mattress.

Mountain said the drive-thru on the northwest side of the building would allow room for the stacking of five cars.

Matt Mahaney, town zoning ordinance compliance officer, said all building and zoning requirements have been met.

May 5, 2021 - 12:23pm

Frustration and what seems to be a growing level of mistrust on all fronts have bubbled to the surface over a Brockport businessman’s proposal to develop an outdoor shooting range and entertainment venue on Harloff Road in the Town of Batavia.

Tuesday night’s Batavia Town Planning Board meeting revealed a standstill of Brandon Lewis’ bid to secure a special use permit to own and operate a shooting range for firearms’ training and competition, drive-in theater and small RV park on a 22-acre parcel at 3269 Harloff Road.

According to Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski, Lewis has yet to comply to a letter sent to him by the town engineer seeking information necessary for planners to make an informed decision.

“The letter outlined everything he needs to do,” Jasinski said, on the Zoom videoconference session. “He has a lot of reports to prove the safety and all of our questions, he has to answer them. And he has not made any effort yet, so we’ll have to wait until he starts producing the material we need.”

Although the proposal to place a shooting range in the vicinity of Area 51 Motocross was not on the evening’s agenda, it came up right away during the “public comments” portion of the meeting.

Lewis, a Genesee County native and owner of The Firing Pin in Bergen, has been attempting to get town approval for the project since early March, when he gave an overview to the Genesee County Planning Board. Since then, residents living in the area have voiced their opposition while others -- both in and outside of the Town of Batavia -- have reached out to the planning board in support of the project.

Lewis: 'It's a Perfect Location'

Last night, Lewis attempted to address the concerns, primarily safety and noise, of those who live near the Harloff Road site.

He said the RV park will be small, not 130 campers as some people have said, and there will be no hook-ups, sewer or water. He also said hours of operation are negotiable and that all members of the shooting club would be certified range safety officers.

As far as shooting toward the Thruway, he pointed out that Four Points in Spencerport (actually Four Point Rod & Gun Club in Scottsville) customers “shoot directly toward the Thruway as well,” at the same distance, about 1,000 feet.

Lewis then said he believes the topography of the area, which is zoned for outdoor recreation use, is “a perfect location for a shooting range in the town” and meshes with the municipality’s comprehensive plan.

He then questioned the restraints of the special use permit.

“It is very difficult and will continue to be very difficult to get people to invest in businesses in that spot … very, very difficult to have any kind of investment in that area with that type of burden placed, where every year …” he said, before mentioning Area 51 owner Chris Mosier and the need for an annual review of the special use permit.

“He’s put $100,000 in labor alone in that facility. I intend to do the same and it’s going to be very difficult for me to justify that if I’m allowed to do something and then every year I have to fight to allow it to stay open.”

Taking Steps to Reduce the Noise

Lewis acknowledged that noise is a “primary concern,” but said he has several solutions, including planting trees around the perimeter of the property, placing berms in the direction of fire, angling the noise away from homes and putting a rifle’s muzzle into a culvert-type pipe to reduce the noise.

“And we have the safety issue covered (with) protocols and training standards in place, I think that people will see that safety is something that we have covered easily,” he added.

Lewis then asked if he could get copies of residents’ complaints (he was told that he would need to file a Freedom of Information Act request with the town clerk) and if he could stage a one-day event where people could gauge the level of noise generated by conducting sound studies.

Jasinski shot that request down, however, stating that the special use permit was a prerequisite to any formal activity on the property.

“If you want anything to go on your property, you need to follow through with the letter the engineers sent to you,” she said. “You need to start sending us the information, and they outlined that very clearly.”

At that point, Cory Coles, who lives on Pratt Road, brought up that Lewis is “soliciting his customers and others to sign a pre-written letter and sending them to the town, himself” (which later was verified by Jasinski).

“Having people from outside the town and Genesee County sending letters that claim our concerns are not valid is absolutely ridiculous,” Coles said. “… to be told that my concerns are not valid even from somebody 10 miles away is pretty unbelievable to me.”

Coles is opposed due to the noise factor, and said that project supporters are contending that the discharge of firearms in the distance is no different than a blown out tire on the Thruway.

“I’ve been living here for a few years and I can confirm that I do not hear 100 tires blowing out on the Thruway every 15 minutes,” he offered.

Resorting to Name-calling?

Then he reported that comments on The Firing Pin Facebook page and discord server have disparaged nearby residents, with terms such as “idiots, morons and even Nazis.”

“One person going as far to suggest that we all should go out into the middle of I-90, presumably to get run over,” he said, adding that he questions the legitimacy of some of the emails and comments.

Coles said photos of the residence of a sheriff’s deputy who lives in that area were uploaded to the discord server, as well.

“Bottom line is it’s kind of concerning. Mr. Lewis claimed over and over how he wants to be a good neighbor, but I just can’t seem to see where he cares if he does or not,” he said.

After dealing with agenda items (special use permits for a solar system on R. Stephen Hawley Drive and a drive-thru for the new Chipotle restaurant on Veterans Memorial Drive), planners revisited the shooting range proposal.

Paul McCullough said he talked to a neighbor who is “quite concerned with the direction of fire and having Area 51 on one side and the shooting range on the other” and about the hours of operation.

Jasinski reported that Mosier is scheduled to address the board at its next meeting for a review of his special use permit.

Chair Says She Will Monitor the Situation

Another question pertained to Lewis’ right to shoot on the property as the owner, with Jasinski saying that is permitted but he can’t hold events. She then said she would monitor Lewis’ website and Facebook page, and if she heard something was going on there, she would check it out.

In closing, Jonathan Long said the way things are proceeding – or not – is leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

“It’s a bad first introduction for the neighbors – the property owners that have been in the town for many years,” he said. “The stuff online in my opinion is just not right. But, like you said, he hasn’t addressed any of the issues in the engineer’s letter; he hasn’t really given us a site plan of what he really wants to do, so until that happens, we’ll have to wait on it, I guess.”

The Batavian obtained a copy of the letter from Town Engineer Steve Mountain.

In it, Lewis is required to submit a detailed project description; and existing conditions, potential impacts and mitigation pertaining to the environment, traffic, community character, community facilities, fiscal impacts, land use and zoning, sanitary sewage and water supply, and water resources.

The plan also requires a coordinated review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act because it exceeds 10 acres.

Previously: Residents speak out against proposed outdoor shooting range on Harloff Road in Town of Batavia

April 21, 2021 - 7:41am

If the sentiments from people who live in the neighborhood are any indication, Brandon Lewis may be facing an uphill fight to acquire the special use permit he needs to develop an outdoor shooting range on Harloff Road in the Town of Batavia.

Several residents of nearby Kelsey Road and Pratt Road voiced their opinions Tuesday night during a 40-minute public hearing conducted by the Batavia Town Planning Board via Zoom videoconferencing.

Their objections centered upon, primarily, the noise generated by the shooting as well as safety measures, the impact on property values and whether it is a good fit for the area.

Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin indoor shooting club in Bergen, is looking to place an outdoor shooting venue, along with a small movie theater, RV park and other entertainment options, on a 22-acre parcel at 3269 Harloff Road. The property is not far from Area 51 Motocross and the New York State Thruway.

Linda and Tomporowski, of Kelsey Road, said that they don’t object to the concept, but want Lewis to find another location.

'It's Just the Wrong Location'

“It just seems that anytime a new business comes up that is noise-generated, it seems to go up on Harloff Road,” Linda said. “We have Area 51 and we have to deal with that seven days a week, pretty much year round. We were originally told that it was going to be limited, but it has not been that way.

“So, we’re very concerned that if another special use permit goes through, it’s going to become unlimited use again – there’s no enforcement – and that just really does not allow me to enjoy my property.”

She said she considers it a “great proposal” and she isn’t anti-gun or antibusiness.

“I think it’s the right business, but just the wrong location. It’s definitely going to cause undue noise … in a residential-agricultural area.”

Linda then asked the planning board to deny the special use permit “based on the fact that the primary use of this property is a shooting range.”

She also cited sections of the planning board code, mentioning that it calls for “a harmonious relationship between the proposed use and the existing, adjacent uses, and there’s really nothing harmonious for me with a shooting range in my backyard. We’ve heard them shooting before; it’s very clear.”

'There Will be Repetitive Shooting' 

Her husband brought up that Lewis had mentioned conducting shooting drills.

“It’s not just junior shooting daddy’s rifle eight times at a target,” he said. “When he talks about drills, some of the stuff is going to be tactical, which means multiple magazines. Law enforcement officers are exempt from the SAFE Act and they can use 30-round magazines and they will be popping shots – doing all of their drills.”

Jason urged the board to “pull back a little bit” and learn specifically what Lewis is looking to do and address it appropriately at that time.

Rich Schildwaster, also of Kelsey Road, said he is an avid outdoorsman with military experience who doesn’t have an issue with a gun range, but is concerned with “the manner of what they are looking to do out there.”

“He has painted a beautiful picture, he really has,” Schildwaster said. “We’re going to have a movie theater, we’re going to have a fitness center, we’re going to have an RV lot … and various activities. When it comes to a special use permit, I don’t think various activities cut the mustard as far as what he is going to be doing out there.”

Schildwaster said he worries about the safety of residents of a mobile home park beyond the Thruway and reeled off other potential issues such as shooting at night, noise levels, training, size of the RV lot and hours of operation.

'It Will be Intrusive on Property Values'

“I’m not in favor … he’s not quieter than the Thruway and, absolutely, 1.2 miles as the crow flies from that range, I can hear him shooting and his cohort shooting recently over the top of the motorcycles running at the same time at Area 51,” he said. “It will be intrusive on my property and it will be intrusive on the values of all of our properties in the neighborhood.”

Kevin and Paul Heist, both of Pratt Road, followed, with Kevin stating that the daytime shooting hours would affect him as he works from home.

“Also, it seems like the plan is all over the place,” he said, adding that he wanted specifics about the safety protocol since there would be a movie theater on the site. He also requested proper environmental studies be conducted before the project moves forward.

Paul Heist said he lives straight across the Thruway from Area 51 and is troubled about the noise volume.

“I haven’t seen anything that he’s produced as far as hiding the noise. Is there any verification that it works?” he asked.

He also mentioned that he lives next door to the Silver Shoe Farms, which has 10 horses, who are sensitive to their hearing and could be spooked by the gunfire. He then called out the town for not enforcing the excessive noise generated by “cycles with no mufflers” at Area 51.

'Guns are Louder Than Jets'

Cory Coles, of Pratt Road, also requested that the board deny the special use permit.

He said he was aware of some shooting going on there a couple weeks ago, and said that unsuppressed guns are louder than motocross bikes and train horns.

“They say the Thruway is there and Area 51 is there, so it’s already noisy,” he offered. “If that’s the case, why don’t we build an airport there, which is funny, as by the way, passenger jet engines are not as loud as guns are.”

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said he has received 21 phone calls about the project, covering these similar issues. One of the letters was from Nicole Cable, owner of the horse stable, who has “massive concerns” as some of the horses she tends to are not hers.

'A Great Addition to Batavia'

At that point, Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski read excerpts of three letters in support of Lewis.

The letters stated that the shooting range would:

  • Be a great addition to Batavia, bringing more money to the town, and promoted Lewis as making safety his top priority;
  • Be a nice change and create positive tax revenue, and with the proper rules and regulations, be safe for the neighbors;
  • Be, per the Bergen Planning Board, “a beneficial addition to the Batavia community since The Firing Pin and Mr. Lewis have become an integral part of our community, participating in fundraising events, hosting gun safety, hunting classes and bringing much needed notoriety to our little town.”

Matthew Hume, the architect working with Lewis, concurred.

“I totally understand everybody’s concerns. I also live on Pratt Road, so it’s kind of in my backdoor as well. I’ve worked quite a bit with both Brandon and his father, and I can tell you that their family – they’re incredible people, they’re more than willing to work with the community,” he said. "They’re not looking to make any enemies here, they’re really just looking to provide different alternatives for the community.”

Hume said Lewis welcomes feedback if there are any issues and would be “more than happy to work out the details so that everybody can be happy.”

'Special Use Permit Must be Limited'

Planning Board Member Don Partridge said he wanted to know when the special use permit granted to Area 51 would be reviewed – Jasinski said that is scheduled for May – and then mentioned that he is leaning in favor of Lewis’ permit as long as it is “limited.”

“Hopefully, he will operate it properly and we won’t have any complaints,” Partridge said.

Jason Tomporowski then got back on the call, indicating that if Area 51 wasn’t already there, the shooting range would stand a better chance of being accepted.

“It’s the noise. I’ve had it,” Tomporowski said. “We moved out to the country so I could live in peace, and that’s my big issue. If there’s some way that I can see a plan on how he’s planning on muffling the noise, with barrier walls, earth and tire mounds, something.”

Schildwaster rejoined the conversation, directing a question to Lewis.

“I just wonder if he would be willing to reveal how many people have shot themselves at his facility in Bergen? It’s probably more than one, whether it was fatal or not, how many people have had accidental shootings in his Bergen facility?” Schildwaster asked.

Jasinski said that question wasn’t appropriate for the public hearing, but Schildwaster was undeterred.

“Why wouldn’t that be pertinent to this hearing when he’s bringing a range here and we’re talking about safety? If he’s already operating a range, why wouldn’t that be a question that the town … would have?” Schildwaster replied.

'The Question was Inappropriate'

Jasinski then asked Lewis if he wished to respond.

“I prefer not to only because I am somewhat taken back,” Lewis said. “I understand the nature of the question, but I don’t think that it was asked in a sincere way. I’ll be completely honest and I’m getting a little bit choked up. We did have a suicide at the range (The Firing Pin), which was completely unavoidable.

“I can’t control someone’s actions when they decide to make that decision, so I believe that gentleman knew that. That is the only incident that we’ve ever had in that regard. And I agree with you, chairperson, that that wasn’t appropriate.”

Lewis had opened the public hearing with a brief statement – emphasizing he wishes “to bring a professional, safe training and shooting center to the Town of Batavia, the likes of which really have not been seen in this region.”

“I think it would be quite a draw to the Town of Batavia from shooters and firearms’ enthusiasts, law enforcement, countless groups that would be interested in this type of training from the firearms side alone.”

Jasinski indicated the process of authorizing the special use permit will take some time.

“We’re not doing anything tonight. After this, we will be talking about it and putting it on the agenda. People are welcome to attend our meetings – we have a lot of things to look into,” she said.

Previously: Planners seek specifics about schedule, noise abatement as they contemplate Harloff Road shooting range plan

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.

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