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department of transportation

June 22, 2020 - 9:28pm

While some restaurants have been able to utilize their patios and decks to increase the number of customers during the COVID-19-induced 50-percent capacity phase, others without outdoor dining areas are limited by their four walls.

Batavia City Council members don’t think that’s fair and they are looking into a way to temporarily provide municipal space for dining establishments to serve their customers under sunny skies.

Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski opened a discussion on the subject at tonight’s Council meeting at City Centre Council Chambers.

“I just wanted to update Council tonight and take your temperature on moving forward with the potential of outdoor dining expansion of restaurants that do not have their own capacity to expand on their own property,” said Tabelski, adding that Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan allowed for outdoor dining.

She said that many restaurant in Batavia took advantage of that and expanded on their own property, but just as many don’t have that option. As a result, three restaurant owners have contact City officials to see if it would be possible to expand onto City-owned property.

Since then, the Finger Lakes Region, which includes Genesee County, has moved into Phase Three – permitting restaurants to have on-premise dining with a maximum of 50-percent occupancy.

Tabelski said the topic also has been discussed during an economic development COVID recovery task force comprised of representatives of the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District, Batavia Development Corporation, the City of Batavia, Genesee County and the Chamber of Commerce.

She also said there is guidance from the New York State Liquor Authority authorizing this, prompting her and City Attorney George Van Nest to draft an application that would be subject to review by City Council.

If approved, the dining establishment, after acquiring proper liability insurance, would be granted a temporary license to operate outdoors on municipal space.

Van Nest said the approval would constitute a “license agreement, not a license or permit, per se, but the actual ability to use that property … consistent with an event application.” He said the liquor authority requires the municipality to submit an application covering those properties and having an adjoining license certification from the restaurant.

Council Member John Canale said he has been thinking about this type of action during his trips around the City.

“To me, this is an absolute no-brainer,” Canale said. “It’s nice to see these restaurants getting creative (by using the sidewalks) and I hope that we as a City allow them to continue to do this for a period of time … Because their capacity is limited to 50 percent inside, if they can gain in nice weather the outside access, it would make up for that.”

Council members Kathleen Briggs and Patti Pacino said they agreed with Canale, while Council Member Jeremy Karas took it even further, suggesting that this could become a seasonal thing.

Council President Eugene Jankowski also said he thought it was a good idea as long as any expansion didn’t interfere with other businesses. He stopped short, however, of endorsing an annual benefit, stating that that was a discussion for another time.

After Council Member Rose Mary Christian said she also was on board with a permanent arrangement for using City land, Van Nest advised that it could evolve into the City requiring a lease agreement and trigger possible assessment implications.

The debate ended with Council asking Tabelski and Van Nest to get the application to Council members as soon as possible for placement on the agenda of their next meeting on July 13th.

In other developments, Council:

-- Heard a report from Karas and Public Works Director Matt Worth that City crews and the state Department of Transportation will be joining forces to replace the sunken manhole covers on Route 98 (Oak Street).

Karas said the covers are causing excessive noise in the area, especially when tractor-trailers coming from or going to the Thruway exit roll over them.

Worth said the DOT has agreed to provide traffic control while City workers replace about 10 manhole castings that are in the driving lane and, finally, get rid of the “clunk-clunk times 100” sound that reverberates through homes along the way.

The tentative schedule calls for the new manhole castings to be replaced in August.

“We will be resetting (them) so they’re flush and then DOT will pave them in that area,” Worth said. “Hopefully, they’re nice and smooth … they’ll fit tight and the noise goes away.”

-- Heard a brief report from Canale that the committee charged with looking into the deer population problem in the City is almost ready to address Council with its recommendations.

Canale said the state Department of Environmental Conservation made a few changes with the wording and has given the City a deadline of Aug. 1st to submit its application.

Calling it a “great plan,” Canale said the committee desires to have guidelines in place by the start of hunting season this fall.


Following the meeting, Jankowski was asked if Council had discussed a plan to find a replacement for Martin Moore, who left his position as City manager on Saturday by what was publicly announced as a “mutual agreement.”

“We haven’t discussed it as a Council, but I know that City staff are doing research and they’re going to provide that information to Council so that we can make a decision as to how we want to go forward,” Jankowski said.

After it was mentioned that the City would get a “free search” from Novak Consulting Group since Moore's tenure lasted less than two years, Jankowski said, “if that is the case, then that’s definitely an option that we’d have to consider.”

The City contracted with the Ohio firm to coordinate the search in the summer of 2018.

February 12, 2019 - 5:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in department of transportation, dot, Route 98, accident, news, notify.

In response to a request for information on the lack of a snow fence and plow times on Route 98 the day of a double fatal accident in Elba, the state Department of Transportation issued a statement today that didn't address either issue.

A spokesman did not respond, after several hours, to The Batavian's request for information on those specific issues.

Here's the DOT's official statement about the crash Feb. 2 that took the lives of mother and son, Teresa M. Norton, 53, and Thomas M. Norton, 22, both of Albion:

This was a tragic incident. DOT’s primary focus is highway safety, which includes snow and ice preparation and response. We maintain thousands of miles on highways statewide and follow snow and ice guidelines to address severe winter weather in Upstate New York. DOT’s maintenance crews were working diligently throughout that weekend in Genesee County, engaged in snow and ice operations on state highways.

The accident occurred within days of significant snowfall when the wind was blowing at about 30 mph through the county. There were significant snow drives across patches of Route 98 that afternoon, including one where Teresa Norton's 2008 Suzuki slide sideways through heavy snow and was hit broadside by a pickup truck.  

Both mother and son were pronounced dead at the scene.

May 3, 2013 - 2:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in department of transportation.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) is fighting an attempt by the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) to put local parades out of business. The agency has advanced a proposal for Special Events Permit 33-C, which would place expensive, overreaching mandates on parade organizers.

The permit would require parade organizers to engage in bonds and insurance coverage they cannot afford, submit overly detailed plans to DOT and adhere to state guidelines that are under local jurisdiction according to state law.

“Our community has maintained many proud traditions throughout the generations, and holding parades to honor our veterans, fire departments and citizens is an integral part of our identity. The DOT’s plan seeks to bring all of that to an end,” Hawley said. “Meddling in a practice that we have conducted safely and successfully for countless decades is a glaring example of big government run amok.

"While the economy lags and so many New Yorkers are out of work, how can state government possibly think that interfering in our local parades is the best use of time and resources? I have been in constant contact with the DOT expressing our community’s disdain for this proposal and I will continue to fight against this attack on one of our most beloved, longest-standing traditions.”

May 22, 2009 - 2:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy, department of transportation.

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Le Roy resident John Garner happened to own an old DOT variable message sign, so he offered it as a promotional device to the organizations and businesses of the village.

We reported on the sign in January. The sign was placed on Route 19 and promoted local businesses and community events.

Just as spring started to get sprung, the sign disappeared.

Yesterday, Ann Walters, owner of the Hobby Horse on Main Street, told me the Department of Transportation asked that it be removed.

"What a marketing technique," said, Walters, who regrets seeing the sign disappear. "I wish I could say I thought of it."

She said it did help bring business into the village.

Walters impression was that the DOT didn't like one of their signs being used to advertise businesses, and there were concerns about it being a distraction, that the sign should be used only for its intended purpose, which is providing traffic information for drivers.

"How can you control use of a sign when you sell it?" Walters asked. "If you want to control it, you don't sell it."

Garner couldn't be reached for comment (Walters identified Garner as the owner of the sign).

DOT regional spokesman Lori Maher said there's an explanation -- not necessarily simple, but an explanation nonetheless -- for the DOT's position.

The state controls the right-of-way on state routes, which is 66 33 feet (66 total) on either side of the center line (though there are numerous exceptions and variables, so that measurement may not apply on this section of Route 19). There are also strict regulations dealing with commercial sites in visual range of a state road.

Even if the sign was outside of the right-of-way, Maher said, it would still violate sign advertising rules.

"The whole purpose (of these regulations) is to restrict the proliferation of signs containing all kinds of messages, which becomes clutter and a safety issue," Maher said. 

The rules are both state and federal and have their roots in the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, she said.

For more information on the NYS sign policy, click here.

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