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.