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Genesee County Planning Department

Pre-applications being taken for Farmland Protection program

By Press Release

Press Release:

Genesee County, in collaboration with Genesee Valley Conservancy, Western New York Land Conservancy, and Genesee Land Trust, have announced that the Agricultural & Farmland Protection Board will be accepting pre-applications from landowners interested in being considered for New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets Farmland Protection program or other state and federal farmland protection initiatives that may become available in the future.

The Farmland Protection program buys conservation easements on the State’s most productive farmland. The program is completely voluntary, and the seller retains ownership of the land and can continue farming the property. However, the land will have permanent restrictions on commercial, residential, and industrial uses.

A workshop will be held on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2023 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Genesee County Building 2, located at 3837 W Main Street Rd, Batavia) to provide landowners with information about the program. All interested landowners MUST ATTEND this workshop prior to submitting an application. If any interested landowners cannot attend, contact the County Planning at or 585-815-7901 to inquire about make arrangements.

The State Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program reimburses farmers up to 87.5 percent of the
value of the development rights on their land. Three land trusts serve Genesee County and can submit applications for this grant funding. All farmers wishing to apply to the State program must complete a pre-application with their respective land trust. Pre-applications will be evaluated by the land trust and will consider the amount of development pressure, quality of soils to be protected, and farm viability. The highest scoring pre-application(s) will be invited to have full applications submitted to the program. These pre-applications may be used to select eligible farms for other future state and federal farmland protection programs.

The Genesee County Planning Department, the Genesee Valley Conservancy, the Western New
York Land Conservancy, the Genesee Land Trust, and the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation
District work cooperatively to manage the pre-application phase.

The pre-application process will be open year-round for interested landowners in the County but will be reviewed annually by each Land Trust. The full application deadline to the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets has not yet been announced, and there is no guarantee the State will release a funding opportunity this budget year. However, establishing a pipeline of interested farms is crucial to demonstrating funding needs and critical to leveraging other non-state funding.

For more information on the New York State Farmland Protection program, visit HERE.

Cutting the red tape: Planning board offers 14 zoning items that are exempt from county review

By Mike Pettinella

Looking to cut out a bureaucratic level, streamline the zoning code process and save money, the Genesee County Planning Board has come up with a list of “local only” referral items that would be exempt from its review.

“What we have done is take a look at the smaller projects that would just get our standard approval with no comments from us,” County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari said today. “If you consider our meeting last night, two of the referrals would have been eliminated from the agenda – one that came in from a homeowner for a shed variance and one for a downtown (Batavia) design review.”

The planning department has drafted a template that includes 14 exemptions that would have to be adopted by town or village boards or the Batavia City Council.

Oltramari said the agreement is based on General Municipal Law, Article 12-B, Section 239-m.3. (c) which allows for the planning board to enter into an agreement with a city, town or village planning board, zoning board of appeals or municipal board to eliminate the referral requirement of certain land use actions deemed to be of local, rather than intercommunity or countywide concern.

“A referral for those actions would be optional, but no longer mandatory,” he said, adding that the county attorney has reviewed the proposal, which would be the same for all municipalities. “We have taken care to include all of the routine referrals types that usually do not result in any comments from the county planning board and where approval is almost always a recommendation.”

He said that he has already received a signed agreement from the Town of Pavilion.

Oltramari said code enforcement officers at the municipal level will determine whether an item needs to be referred to the planning board – using the list as their guide.

“This could save a significant amount of time in the process of getting a project through,” he said. “I think it's a benefit to both the communities and their constituents because they may not have to travel to the planning board meeting. It will save time and money.”

He also said all applications to the county planning board become permanent paper records that have to be stored, meaning more time and expense.

The 14 planning and zoning actions that have been determined to be typically of a local rather than intercommunity or countywide concern that are exempt from review by the Genesee County Planning Board are as follows:

  • Area variances to rear or side-yard setback requirements for single and two-family residential uses.
  • Area variances to yard setback requirements (rear, side or front) for accessory structures, as defined by the municipality, provided the variance does not propose the structure be closer to a State or County highway or municipal boundary than the existing principal structure.
  • Area variances for accessory structures, as defined by the municipality, for being in front of the principal building, provided the accessory structure would meet the front-yard setback required of a principal building.
  • Area variances and/or permits for freestanding signs or fences except when proposed along a State or County highway.
  • Area variances for parking or driveways not accessing a State or County highway.
  • Special use permits or site plan reviews for home occupations/businesses not accessing a State or County highway and that meet all applicable local municipal code requirements.
  • Special use permits or site plan reviews for the co-location of telecommunications equipment on an existing telecommunications tower/facility.
  • Special use permits or site plan reviews for new ponds or pond expansions that meet all applicable local municipal code requirements, provided that the construction will not disturb more than an acre of land and as per the SEQRA review, will not impact archaeological resources, threatened or endangered species, or State or Federal regulated wetlands.
  • Site Plan Review or Design Review for the interior or exterior remodeling of a new use allowed in that zoning district including building-mounted signage that meets all applicable local municipal code requirements, and does not cause changes to other aspects of the site.
  • Subdivisions or re-subdivisions for minor lot-line adjustments on existing lots where no additional lots are created and there is no change to access points and no new access points are proposed on State or County highways.
  • Subdivision of land into two lots that meet all applicable local municipal code requirements provided such subdivision occur within a Genesee County Smart Growth Development Area.
  • Land use moratoria not exceeding 12-months, except that a notice shall be sent to the Genesee County Planning Department for informational purposes.
  • Administrative and fee amendments to the zoning code (i.e., general provisions, permit procedures, powers and duties of local boards and officers, penalties for offenses, public hearing requirements, organization, and amendment procedures).
  • Interpretations of the municipal zoning code.

Planners to review revised site plan for 99 Main St.

By Mike Pettinella


The Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday is expected to review a revised site plan submitted by smartDESIGN Architecture for exterior changes at 99 Main St., Batavia -- the future site of the Buffalo Implants and Periodontics office.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at County Building 2 on West Main Street Road.

According to documents submitted by project manager Todd Audsley, further changes in the façade design and elevation are necessary due to problems with product and subcontractor availability.

Specifically, the new plan calls for construction of “a site-built wood-framed storefront wrapped in exterior break metal, with a metal standing seam skirting at the second floor line, which forms a small hood over the recessed entry.”

The original concept was an aluminum storefront with a fabric awning over the recessed doorway.

County planning staff is recommending approval of the revision since it still conforms with the City of Batavia’s Design Guidelines in the Central Commercial (C-3) District.

The $1.1 million renovation and restoration of the historic, three-floor, 7,500-square-foot building is part of the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The dental practice is on the first floor while the second floor is being developed for commercial office space and the third floor will include two two-bedroom market rate apartments.

Another referral of note on Thursday’s agenda is a site plan review and request for a special use permit for an Amherst company to erect two wind turbines at 2311 Bennett Road in the Town of Darien.

Whitecap Electric, LLC, is looking to install a pair of wind turbines of up to 2.5 megawatts each with a total height of approximately 450 feet. The bottom of the blade would be more than 30 feet above any obstruction within a 250-foot radius.

The $6 million project is earmarked to comply with the 5-megawatt cap for net metering in New York and will be connected to the grid under the Community Distributed Generation compensation scheme.

County planning staff is recommending approval with modifications focusing on a proper decommissioning plan, visual impact study and bird analysis, stormwater pollution prevention plan and application for a 9-1-1 Address Verification with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

Photo: Revised design of the facade at 99 Main St., Batavia. Courtesy of Genesee County Planning Department.

Planning director: New York's broadband survey is a key in the distribution of funds to expand internet access

By Mike Pettinella

Just 5 percent.

That’s the percentage of Genesee County residents that County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari hopes will take a few minutes to complete the Empire State Broadband Assessment survey that can be found at

Oltramari, speaking after Wednesday night’s Genesee County Planning Board meeting at County Building 2 on West Main Street Road, said the survey is an important tool as New York State attempts to expand internet access to its residents.

“By getting 5 percent of Genesee County residents to take the survey (less than 3,000 people) that will help determine the distribution of funding to fill in the gaps in broadband,” he said.

Millions of dollars are available for broadband development, Oltramari said. In Genesee County, government officials already have indicated they are setting aside a portion of the $11 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding it is receiving for that purpose.

Upon going to the website, the user is directed to the state’s “Advancing Broadband for New York” initiative featuring two large blue buttons: one marked Speed Test & Survey and the other marked Survey Only.

The speed test measures both the download and upload speeds from that location. It is important that the speed test is taken from a home or business computer, and not a mobile device. Additional instructions and information are provided.

The survey, according to the website, is “to understand how you utilize, or would like to utilize, broadband capabilities in your home or business in your community.” The questions are not difficult to answer and the entire survey takes five to seven minutes to complete.

When finished, a “thank you” message appears and links to additional resources, such as the New York State Broadband Program Office, and Data USA: County & City Data based on the U.S. Census, are provided.

Oltramari said the county will be conducting a marketing campaign to spread the word about the broadband survey.

He also reported that the first draft of the county’s updated Comprehensive Plan – part of the Genesee 2050 project – is complete and will be shared with the public in the coming weeks.

County planners recommended approval of a dozen referrals last night, most notably:

  • A site plan for a 5-megawatt ground mounted commercial solar system in an Industrial (I-1) district at 7054 West Main Rd. in the Town of Le Roy. The project, being developed by AES Clean Energy, based in Louisville, Colo., is on land owned by Route 5 Storage LLC, not far and on the other side of the road from the intersection of Keeney Road.
  • A site plan review for a 1,944-square foot (81 by 24) addition to the existing building owned by Gadd Properties (Alexander Equipment) at 3266 Buffalo St., Alexander;
  • A site plan review for the Burning Barrell BBQ restaurant to be operated by Nicholas Rada at 10 East Main St., Corfu;
  • A site plan review and area variance request for Harrington’s Farm Market to replace an existing greenhouse with a new 2,304-square foot (48 by 48) greenhouse on its property at 5282 Clinton St. Rd. in the Town of Stafford;
  • A sign permit request from Pierrepoint Visual Graphics, Inc., of Rochester, to place new signs for a proposed UR Medicine office building at the Gateway II Industrial Park at 7999 Call Parkway in the Town of Batavia.

Previously: Genesee County legislators call on G/FLRPC to provide answers to broadband availability question

County planning: Buffalo company has sights set on Town of Alabama parcel for compost facility

By Mike Pettinella


The Genesee County Planning Board is expected to review the site plan for a compost production facility at 396 Wright Rd. in the Town of Alabama at tonight’s monthly meeting at County Building No. 2 on West Main Street Road, Batavia.

EcoVerde Organics, LLC, of Buffalo, is looking to operate the plant on a 27-acre parcel of land owned by Shawn Wilkins and William Eberhard, who reside in Akron and Clarence, respectively.

The location has an Akron mailing address but actually is in an Industrial District in the Town of Alabama.

According to documents submitted by EcoVerde Organics, the company will utilize approximately five acres to process source-separated organics, manure and yard waste, specifically food scraps, solid manure/bedding, select food processing waste and crop residue, and leaf and yard waste from municipalities and landscape professionals.

Biosolids will not be accepted.

Daytime hours of operation will vary depending upon the type of work involved, but the plant will be closed on Saturday and Sundays. The company anticipates developing regular collection routes and will accept source food scraps and manure from other haulers.

Company literature indicates its vision “is to reduce waste, reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, improve soil health and enhance the water quality of the Great Lakes basin.”

“To realize that vision, EVO will work with community stakeholders to locally source food scraps (SSO), manure, yard trimmings and other organic materials to create eco-friendly, tailored and tested composts for use in gardens, landscapes and farms, including applications requiring compost that meets organic-use specifications.”

County planning staff is recommending approval with the following modifications:

  • If plans are made to disturb one acre or more of land as a result of the operation, the applicant completes a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and obtains a Stormwater Permit for Construction Activity from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) prior to that disturbance;
  • Per County Source Separation Local Law, the applicant register with the GLOW Region Solid Waste Management Committee and report at least annually the tonnage of materials recovered by the facility to the GLOW Recycling Coordinator.

Other referrals on the agenda include a special use permit request by New York Bus Sales, LLC, for its proposed 20,000-plus-square foot school bus service/sales facility at the corner of West Saile Drive and Call Parkway in the Town of Batavia, a site plan review for new storage units at West Batavia Storage, review of the Village of Bergen’s new zoning law and a new battery energy storage local law in the Town of Elba.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 o’clock.

Photo, courtesy of Genesee County Planning Department: Aerial view of the propsed site for a compost facility on Wright Road in the Town of Alabama. 

Tonawanda Reservation's inaccurate population count factors into state's loss of one congressional seat

By Mike Pettinella

Update, 3:20 p.m.

County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari called in additional information about the 2020 Census, stating that officials at the Buffalo (Batavia) Service Processing Center under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement failed to report the number of persons at the facility this year. In 2010, 612 detainees were counted in the census.

"They were supposed to be reported to the Census Bureau by leadership there, but we did not see that this time around," Oltramari said. "That makes you wonder if those being held at other facilities around the state were counted."


The inability to get an accurate count of residents in the Genesee County portion of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation contributed to New York State losing a congressional seat following the 2022 election, the county’s planning director said today.

Felipe Oltramari said he learned recently that the Census Bureau’s report of population in the Genesee County segment of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation reservation was not correct because the bureau’s enumerator was not allowed to enter the tribal grounds.

According to the Census Bureau, the population dropped from 483 in 2010 to 241 in 2020 – a stunning 50 percent decline.

“I found out that many residents there did not fill out the 2020 Census form and that the person sent by the Census Bureau was told to leave,” Oltramari said. “New York ended up losing a congressional seat by 89 people, and just on the reservations alone, we lost 242 people. We could have saved that seat.”

Oltramari blames the Census Bureau for not following through on the count at the reservation and also in the Town of Alabama, which lost 14 percent of its population – from 1,869 in 2010 to 1,602 in 2020.

The Genesee County portion of the reservation borders the Town of Alabama.

“You wonder if that same enumerator just quit … as Alabama was the town that lost the most percentage-wise other than the reservation,” Oltramari said. “I think there’s some undercount in both Alabama and the Tonawanda Seneca Reservation.”

The planning director said he is troubled by the fact that the Census Bureau reported it had reached the 99 percent threshold.

“So, we were under the assumption that there was nothing left to do because 60 something percent answered on their own and the remaining 30 something percent was captured through enumeration,” he offered. “Obviously, that didn’t happen. As far as the reservation, what did they get – maybe 50 percent?”

He said the bureau should have hired someone from the reservation to conduct the count beyond those who had already filled out the form. The Census Bureau is responsible for reaching out to tribal areas.

“That is what is supposed to happen in those communities. They go out there and try to hire people within the community, that way the person coming out and doing the enumeration is a neighbor or a resident from the area, and not some stranger from Rochester or where ever,” he said. “It definitely had an impact on our county and the state as a whole – as New York lost that Congressional seat.”

If New York’s population total listed 89 more people, Minnesota would have lost the seat.

Oltramari said COVID-19 could have been a factor in the hiring process as there were delays in contacting potential enumerators and getting them trained in late 2019 and early 2020.

As far as the state’s congressional delegation is concerned, it will have only 26 representatives, continuing a steady decline from its peak of 45 members of the House in the 1940s.

New York’s population grew by 4 percent from 19,421,055 in 2010 to 20,215,751 last year. However, data reveals that many New Yorkers moved to other states, including Florida, which gained about 2.6 million people over the past decade.

2020 Census shows Genesee County population fell by 2.8 percent from 2010; City of Batavia gained 135 people

By Mike Pettinella

Updated 10:10 a.m. with village population. Note that town population numbers include the village population.


The director of the Genesee County Planning Department, the agency that coordinated the most recent census, said today that he is pleased that the number of people living in the county in 2020 was more than anticipated.

“I’m happy that we beat the projections, although I would have loved to have seen our population increase,” said Felipe Oltramari, reacting to the report issued Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The report reveals that Genesee County’s population for 2020 was 58,388 – down 2.8 percent from the 60,079 reported in 2010.

Genesee experienced the smallest drop of the four GLOW counties, however, with the others as follows:

  • Livingston, down 5.4 percent from 65,393 in 2010 to 61,834 in 2020;
  • Orleans, down 5.9 percent from 42,883 in 2010 to 40,343 in 2020;
  • Wyoming, down 3.9 percent from 42,155 in 2010 to 40,531 in 2020.

“I think we did a good job,” Oltramari said. “We beat the projections, and those were the 2019 projections. We were supposed to be at 57,808, and we ended up with 580 more than that.”

Western New York’s major counties, however, saw an increase in the number of residents, with Monroe going from 744,344 in 2010 to 759,443 in 2020 (up 2 percent) and Erie going from 919,040 in 2010 to 954,236 in 2020 (up 3.8 percent).

“I think that Erie and Monroe counties saw an increase for the first time since 1970,” he said. “We actually had an increase in the City of Batavia for the first time in a while.”

The U.S. Census Bureau report shows that the city population went up by 135 people – from 15,465 in 2010 to 15,600 in 2020.

New population figures in Genesee County towns, with the 2020 number followed by the 2010 number:

  • Alabama, 1,602; 1,869.
  • Alexander, 2,491; 2,534.
  • Batavia, 6,293; 6,809.
  • Bergen, 3,120; 3,120.
  • Bethany, 1,780; 1,765.
  • Byron, 2,302; 2,369.
  • Darien, 3,010; 3,158.
  • Elba, 2,164; 2,370.
  • Le Roy, 7,662; 7,641.
  • Oakfield, 3,145; 3,250.
  • Pavilion, 2,290; 2,495.
  • Pembroke, 4,264; 4,292.
  • Stafford, 2,424; 2,459.
  • Tonawanda Reservation, 241; 483.

Village population figures, with the 2020 number followed by the 2010 number:

  • Alexander, 518; 509.
  • Bergen, 1,208; 1,176.
  • Elba, 558; 676.
  • Le Roy, 4,300; 4,391.
  • Oakfield, 1,812; 1,813.
  • Corfu (part of Town of Pembroke), 689, 709.

Oltramari said the Census count “was no doubt affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“This might explain the sudden 50 percent decrease in the Reservation population,” he said, adding that it could be an undercount caused by pandemic-related staffing issues at the Census Bureau. “The Census Bureau is responsible for outreach to tribal nations.”

The county planning department has received population data “right down to the block level,” Oltramari said, noting that he plans to dig into those statistics in the coming weeks.

More information on the 2020 Census can be found at this link:


As far as last night’s planning board meeting and referral recommendations, Oltramari said everything went as expected.

-- On the Healthy Living Campus in downtown Batavia site plan review, the board recommended that developers consider offering bicycle parking facilities adjacent to a major entrance to the facility, and, given the large amount of glass utilized in the façades, the facility install bird-friendly glass in order to minimize bird-strikes and reduce its impacts on local bird populations.

Oltramari said project managers are in the process of using special glass, including in the pool area for privacy purposes.

-- On the Brickhouse Commons mixed-use project in the Town of Pembroke, planners’ recommendations included a pedestrian connection between the development and the Tim Hortons to the east, completing a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and obtaining a Stormwater Permit for Construction Activity from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) prior to final approval from the town, and making sure signs comply with the town’s zoning regulations.

Previously: Genesee County planners to consider latest version of Brickhouse Commons plan at Route 5 and 77

Jill Wiedrick returns to Batavia ready, willing and able to make a positive impact as assistant city manager

By Mike Pettinella

While she didn’t grow up in Batavia, Jill Wiedrick nevertheless considers her appointment as assistant city manager as a homecoming since she will be returning to the place where she spent seven years as a senior planner with the Genesee County Planning Department.

“I can’t wait to move back to the community and be part of it again. We’re really excited,” Wiedrick said by telephone Monday -- two days before the Elma native continues her career in government as a key member of the City of Batavia’s administrative staff.

Wiedrick (photo at right) said she came to understand “how great Batavia was" by having lived and worked here from 2006-13.

“Part of the reason (for taking the city position) is that my husband and I have two young kids and I’d like them to grow up a little bit the way I did,” said Wiedrick, who graduated as Jill Babinski in 2000 from Iroquois Central School. “I grew up in a small community – not that there’s anything wrong with the City of Rochester; I think it’s fantastic – but we wanted to try something different.”

She also indicated she decided to leave her job as manager of zoning for the City of Rochester to be closer to her parents, who continue to live in Elma.

“And, professionally, I’ve been really interested in city management and other facets of government. So, this seems like something that perhaps that I would enjoy and be successful at,” she said.

Education Includes Professional Certificate

A graduate of Geneseo State College, Wiedrick received her master’s degree in City/Urban, Community and Regional Planning and, this spring via online distance learning, earned a professional certificate in Municipal Finance from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

She began employment with the City of Rochester as senior city planner in November 2013 before moving up to zoning manager in February 2020. She is credentialed with the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Wiedrick said that she relished her time as a Genesee County planner.

“I learned so very much and became such great friends with everyone. Jim Duval (the former planning director) was my first boss there and I cannot say enough awesome things about him. He continues to be a strong person in my life and a mentor,” she offered.

“And obviously, I worked with (current Planning Director) Felipe (Oltramari), who brings so much to the table in terms of helping the county and its municipalities be successful and how they want to look in the future.”

Oltramari said he was impressed with Wiedrick’s positive attitude and work ethic during her time at the planning department.

“Everyone always had good things to say about her work,” he said. “She was a hard worker -- very passionate about her work -- and I’m really glad that she is back in the area.”

Previously Interacted with City Manager

Wiedrick also interacted with City Manager Rachael Tabelski when the latter was employed as the marketing director with the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

“I got to know Rachael when I worked on projects with the GCEDC,” Wiedrick said. “On occasions we would be at the same meetings and run in the same circles, as far as development.”

Wiedrick said she is keen on economic development, stating that GCEDC officials and others realized that the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park project in the Town of Alabama was a long-term venture.

“Going into it, we knew that we weren’t going to see development occur immediately,” she said. “A lot of the things that you do in any sort of development is that you’re making an investment that is intended to be long term and to be developed over a number of years.”

She compared it to the planting of a tree.

“You don’t plant that tree for yourself; you plant it potentially for your children,” she said. “Much of development tends to work that way. In Western New York in particular, we’re planting the seeds now and we’re reaping the benefits maybe five or 10 years out.

“A good example is the City of Buffalo. Over the past 20 years, they’ve done a lot of small things and now we’re seeing the resurgence of Buffalo. Now, people are going, ‘Wow, how did this happen?' It has been calculated and people are taking steps knowing that we’re not going to see the benefits of these actions for a number of years.”

Promoting Genesee County

Wiedrick agrees that the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award will go a long way to expanding the city’s appeal and she is eager to have a role in its rejuvenation.

“To be a part of such a tremendous team, I feel that I am going to learn so very much from, and to have an impact on a place that is near and dear to my heart is incredibly exciting,” she said.

“I would tell colleagues from the City of Rochester, 'you’ve got to go to Batavia. You’ve got to check it out. It’s not just farmland. They just laugh at me and say, ‘OK. How did they do that in Genesee County?’ "

As the assistant city manager, Wiedrick will be responsible for various projects, including administrative services, organizational risk management, organizational values, community/neighborhood development, public relations, information technology and implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning software. She also will help draft the annual budget and take part in capital planning initiatives.

Her starting salary has been set at $91,800.

Tabelski said that Wiedrick’s extensive background in land use, planning, community engagement, policy development and budgeting as well as her proficiency with technology mesh well with the requirements of the city position.

Putting Technology to Good Use

“Jill brings a wealth of knowledge and experience gained through her professional roles in government including with the Genesee County Planning Department and City of Rochester Zoning Department,” Tabelski said. “She will make an immediate impact to the city organization -- focusing on supporting the ongoing software implementation projects, neighborhoods, community development initiatives, and administrative needs.

“She is a positive, outgoing professional who will participate with residents and businesses to make improvements. I am glad she choose the City of Batavia to call home, and look forward to working with her.”

Wiedrick said she has an eye on utilizing technology to enhance the quality of living in Batavia and the surrounding area.

“One of the things that I’m excited about working on is community development efforts, and I’m also going to be working a lot with technology – which I am very comfortable with,” she said. “What I’m intrigued about -- and have been for the majority of my career in government – is what forms of technology can be used to make things easier for the public and make things easier for staff.”

Wiedrick is married to Andrew Wiedrick, a quality assurance analyst at Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Rochester. The couple has a son, Ty, who is turning 6 this month, and daughter Jolene, who turned 3 in May. The family is in the process of moving to the city.

An accomplished violinist, she plans on performing with the Genesee Symphony Orchestra in the near future.


File photo: Jill Wiedrick performing with the Genesee Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Howard Owens.

County residents invited to DeWitt Recreation Area on July 10 for comprehensive/recreation plan activities

By Mike Pettinella

The road to updated Genesee County Comprehensive and Recreation plans is much more demanding than the proverbial “walk in the park” but County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari is hoping an event of that name helps move the municipality closer to its goals.

Oltramari is inviting county residents to come to the DeWitt Recreation Area at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 10 for Walk in the Park!, an interactive gathering featuring a walking tour of the Cedar Street site, workshops, question-and-answer session, and available food and refreshments from Pub Coffee Hub.

Representatives of Prospect Hill Consulting LLC, of Buffalo, the firm coordinating the plan revisions, and Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect, of North Tonawanda, a subcontractor, will be attending.

“We’re trying to come up with a new framework (of plan components), with the main thing that we want to do is see if we can modernize the way that we present it to the public,” Oltramari said. “That is why having this Genesee 2050 website is important. It will be a hub where people can get information and we can share across departments. We want to use technology more instead of having just in-person meetings and PowerPoint presentations.”

He also said a second piece of the puzzle is creating a countywide recreation plan.

“With that, we can look at potential trails, gaps in our park system and recreational activities that we want to have or encourage; sort of set us up for more grant funding in the future,” he said.

Oltramari said planners, legislators, community members and consultants have been updating the comprehensive plan every year since 2000 – utilizing focus groups and steering committees – but now they want to update the entire plan.

A comprehensive plan is a long-range guide for future development and resource protection that considers land use regulation, zoning code revisions and future ordinances. It consists of the following elements:

  • Demographics and Socio-Economics
  • Land Use, Environment, & Place Making
  • Agriculture and Food Production
  • Arts, Culture, Parks & Recreation
  • Housing Opportunities
  • Transportation & Mobility
  • Technology & Utilities
  • Community Wellness
  • Economic & Workforce Development
  • Safety, Security, and Justice
  • Education and Government Administration

“We had some funding set aside for the recreation plan capital project and we didn’t have any luck getting a grant to help pay for it,” Oltramari said. “So, in 2019 we decided to try for a grant for both the comprehensive plan and the recreation plan together, and we were successful in getting that grant.”

On Wednesday, the legislature is expected to vote on a resolution to add a $40,000 grant from New York State Empire State Development to the Comprehensive/Recreation Plan Capital Project.

The grant stipulates that Genesee County provide a cash match of $45,000 and in-kind contribution (personnel, ancillary costs) of $15,000 for a total project cost of $100,000.

Other resolutions on Wednesday’s agenda include:

  • Accepting $157,927 from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to fund improvements and modernization to the infrastructure that directly supports cybersecurity, Public Health, Mental Health and Emergency Management Services departments.
  • Extending two temporary full-time clerk typist positions, three temporary full-time COVID-19 response specialists and one temporary full-time epidemiologist until March 31, 2023 ,with salary and fringe benefits funded by the expanded COVID-19 grant funds ($342,558) and allocated in the 2021, 2022 & 2023 budgets.
  • Contracting with Flynn-Battaglia Architects P.C., of Buffalo, for an amount not to exceed $38,000 to update construction documents to reflect the current condition of the former Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and Jail building at 14 Main St. so it may be repaired. It has been reported previously that the stone work on the front portion of the historic building continues to deteriorate and requires emergency repairs. The consultant services will be paid from the Genesee Justice Stone Work capital project.
  • Reappointing Phillip DiMartino, of Batavia, to the Genesee Community College Board of Trustees effective July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2028. DiMartino has served on the board since July 1, 2019.

Alexander Central eighth-grader's Genesee County flag judged as the best in children's contest

By Mike Pettinella


An Alexander Central School eighth-grader’s design promoting agriculture and the people who work to get crops from the field to the table received the most votes in the Genesee County Flag Contest conducted by the county planning department.

Riley Wall, (photo at left), a student in Karen LaDuke’s art class, created a flag that shows a healthy ear of corn supported by two different color hands in a tapestry of blue sky and green fields.

Her entry edged out four other finalists in the children’s contest that had citizens vote on the Genesee 2050 website in March and April.

Riley, 13, said she participated in the project as a class after it was suggested by her teacher.

"I think I came up with the design just because I knew that as a county we are very toward agriculture and being part of a community. So, that's why I included a piece of corn and the diversity of it," she said.

She said it took her one or two days to complete the work, with the design in her initial thought process continuing through the finished product.

County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari said Riley’s flag is worthy in that it recognizes the value of farming, Genesee County’s No. 1 industry.

“It represents our agricultural base and symbolizes the importance of farmers, local food and also the diversity of our farming community,” he said.

The winning flag will be flown on June 14 – Flag Day – at the Genesee County Courts Facility as the county flag for a day, Oltramari said.

“We’re still finalizing plans but it looks like there will be a commendation -- with the flag flying at the Courts Facility Building -- and a ceremony outside, either before or after the legislature’s Public Service Committee meeting,” he said, adding that Riley and her family will be invited to attend.

Riley said she is looking forward to the event.

"I think this will be a really good experience for me," she said, adding that the outcome of the contest has inspired to take art more seriously. "When I was younger, I used to draw a lot. Now, I don't draw as much but I think that since I did this thing, I think I'm going to start getting more into it."

Oltramari said he is working with a flag company to make sure it is ready by June 14.

As far as the adult contest to determine the new county flag is concerned, Oltramari said he is waiting on the legislature, which is taking a close look at the five designs deemed as finalists.

Oltramari said his research indicates that all New York State counties, except for Livingston, have the county seal on their flags. He said the reason for that is because if it didn’t have the county seal, people wouldn’t be able to identify it.

Genesee County's vexillologist updates legislative committee on status of flag design contest

By Mike Pettinella

As a vexillologist since childhood, Genesee County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari knows more than a thing or two about how flags should look.

He shared some of his knowledge on the study of flags earlier this week during a discussion with the county’s Ways & Means Committee about the progress of a public contest to find a replacement for the current Genesee County flag – a blue banner that features the county seal in the middle with the words Genesee County above and Founded 1802 below in block letters.

“One of the no-no’s for flags is never to put words on them,” Oltramari said, admitting the county flag has ruffled his feathers to a certain degree. “Flags are symbols, and they’re not supposed to say things. Especially when they’re flying … you really can’t read them so it makes no sense.”

Oltramari said he became hooked on flags since his elementary school days after seeing pictures of them on the inside cover of a dictionary.

“I’ve been a flag bearer all my life,” he said. “I memorized them and to this day, I’m very good. I like going to GCC, where all the flags are hanging … and I can name them all. It’s fun.”

He explained to the committee that the international and national vexillology associations took their name from the word vexillum, which is Latin for the flag-like object used as a military standard by units in the ancient Roman Army.

When the county embarked on a comprehensive plan update and the Genesee 2050 project associated with it, Oltramari took that as an opportunity to get citizens involved by holding a design contest to update the flag – with categories for adults and children.

Online voting on the five finalists in each division ended on April 30 – resulting in first-place designs pending approval by the legislature before results are released to the public. Oltramari said using the county seal on the new flag is allowed.

Should the designs receiving the most votes move forward (and that is uncertain at this point), Oltramari suggested drafting a commendation and making a presentation to the children’s category winner.

He also thought it would be proper to make the children’s flag the official county flag for a day and fly it outside.

“After that, it would be put in the Genesee County History Department as a display,” he said. “It would be an extra cost to have that flag printed but I thought it would be a nice gesture.”

According to a press release from the county about the flag contest, those who voted online have a chance to win free shelter reservations at DeWitt Recreation Area and the Genesee County Park & Forest for the upcoming season.

Voters were automatically entered into the drawing by voting for one of the flag designs and by filling out any of the Genesee 2050 surveys. The more surveys someone completed, the more chances that person had to win.

To see pictures of the five finalists in both categories, click on the Previously link.

Previously: Vote for a new Genesee County Flag -- one created by an adult AND one by a child

Genesee 2050 website is live; surveys, flag contest open

By Press Release

Press release:

Genesee County is updating its Comprehensive Plan to reach its 2050 goals and to reimagine the comprehensive planning process.

A new website launched today will help make the plan and public engagement in the planning process easy to access. The site: (don’t forget the www.) will include work in progress on updating the 1997 Genesee County Comprehensive Plan. The website can be used to explore the status of the Comprehensive Plan as it develops; to find opportunities to engage in the process; and to help maintain the Plan as a “living document” to ensure it reflects important community priorities as they evolve through the year 2050.

Public Input Needed

The Genesee 2050 Comprehensive Plan Update survey is open. The survey seeks input from citizens on the relative importance of and the level of satisfaction with various aspects of community life, as well as attitudes about Genesee County’s future. Open-ended questions invite respondents to describe what they currently like and what they would most like to change about Genesee County.

Users can navigate to the Take Surveys tab to access the Genesee 2050 Comprehensive Plan Update survey as well as mini surveys seeking input on a variety of topics. Mini surveys available now seek input on Agriculture and Food Supply, Renewable Energy Siting, and Pandemic Impacts on county residents. The recreation survey and other mini surveys will be launched in the near future.

County Flag Design Contest Open

Details about the contest to design a new flag for Genesee County are also available on the site.

Flag Competition Guidelines:

  • Keep It Simple. The flag should be rectangular and so simple that a child can draw it from memory.
  • Use Meaningful Symbolism. The flag's images, colors or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes.
  • Use Basic Colors. Limit the number of colors on the flag to as few as possible that contrast well and come from the standard color set.
  • No Lettering. Do not use writing of any kind (exception: the County Seal may be used).
  • Be Distinctive or Be Related. Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections. All entries must be the designer’s original work.

Users can navigate to the Get Involved tab to view full submission details.

Public Participation is Essential

“It’s crucial that we get the input of residents and stakeholders so that the final plan reflects strategies people will support to create the sustainable and vital future we all want for Genesee County,” said County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari. “We have so many assets. We need to build upon those strengths to retain existing and attract new residents, investors and businesses.

“In the midst of the global pandemic, the Genesee 2050 website serves as an important hub coordinating distanced and online public engagement. It gives everyone who lives in, works in and cares about Genesee County a place to be heard and to learn how to participate in realizing the county’s vision for its future.”

The survey is one element of a broad public input program for the Genesee County planning efforts. Public workshops, steering committee meetings and interactive site tours as well as participation in community events such as the farmers market are also part of the program. Information about upcoming events will also be posted on the project Facebook page: Genesee 2050.

For more information or to receive a printed copy of any of the surveys contact Felipe A. Oltramari, director of the Genesee County Department of Planning by email at: or phone (585) 815-7901.

County planning director reflects upon efforts to maximize 2020 census totals

By Mike Pettinella

Over the past several months, the Genesee County Department of Planning was diligent in getting the word out about the 2020 Census.

At every opportunity, Planning Director Felipe Oltramari made it known the significance of the census upon local governments, with statements such as the following (paraphrased):

“The census not only counts our population, but determines our congressional representation and the allocation of federal funding to numerous programs, including Medicaid and Head Start, and to hospitals, fire departments and other vital services.”

On Monday afternoon, Oltramari reported the results of the efforts of his department – which was assisted by the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council -- during a planning department review at the Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse.

Oltramari said that the self-responded percentage in Genesee County was 65.6 percent, a bit higher than the percentage for all of New York State (64.2 percent, according to the 2020 Census website). The remaining 35.7 percent of the state population was obtained by census takers – officially called Enumerated in Nonresponse Followup.

The state’s total of 99.9 percent enumerated is the figure reported by 2020 Census for every state in the union through Oct. 16, which was the census deadline day.

“The additional percentage was in-person enumeration – persons going to homes and sometimes visiting their neighbors, by proxy, to reach the 99.9 percent mark,” Oltramari said. “We don’t get to see the totals for all the counties at this point – only the statewide results.”

Per the 2020 Census tabulations, Minnesota had the highest self-responded percentage at 75.1 percent and Maine had the lowest at 58.2 percent. Again, through the work of the census takers, all states are within 1/10th of 1 percent of having everybody counted.

In reviewing this year’s accomplishments, Oltramari said that the 2020 census outreach was his department's "biggest project of the year."

He also reported that the planning board: is projected to handle 110 zoning referrals; kicked off a comprehensive plan update and recreation plan known as Genesee 2050; hosted or sponsored more than 20 training seminars and webinars for local officials; and continued to provide mapping, Geographic Information Systems (GIF), Pictometry support and training to county departments, local municipalities and the general public.

“We also provide local technical assistance on projects such as the solar project in Byron and the Darien comprehensive plan, and assist with planning and zoning issues to help municipalities save money,” he said.

For 2021, special projects include continuing with the comprehensive plan update and recreation plan, working on a county resiliency plan, taking the lead on an environmental review of Phase 3 of the county’s water project and review of Agricultural District No. 4 (Byron, Bergen, Stafford and Elba).

Oltramari said the department will maintain three full-time employees – director, deputy director and GIS technician – with 96 percent of its budget going to cover salaries and fringe benefits.

Public meeting scheduled for Smart Growth Plan review

By Mike Pettinella

Press release:

The Genesee County Department of Planning will present and gather comments on the latest draft revisions to the Smart Growth Plan as part of its 2016 triennial review.

The meeting will take place ar 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the Oakfield Community and Government Center, 3219 Drake Street Road, Oakfield.

The meeting will focus on the modifications being recommended to the County Legislature by the Planning Department, County Planning Board, County Agricultural & Farmland Protection Board, and County Water Resources Agency for the Development Area Boundaries in the towns of Alabama and Oakfield.

For individuals with disabilities, requests for reasonable accommodations should be made with at least five days notice. Call the Genesee County Planning Department at (585) 815-7901 or email at

Smart Genesee/Green Genesee provides 'road map' to future development

By Mike Pettinella

A nearly three-year in-depth look into the environment and its relationship with economic development has come to a close and the results should be beneficial to varying degrees across Genesee County.

That’s the perspective of Felipe Oltramari, Genesee County Planning Department director, concerning Smart Genesee/Green Genesee, an initiative that focused on the towns of Batavia, Alabama and Oakfield, and Village of Oakfield.

“It’s a scientific approach to looking at the natural environment – floodplains, wetlands – and its connectivity to development,” Oltramari said Monday. “This has enabled planners to view it as a system, and to come up with a ‘green’ road map for the county.  It’s another layer that helps us make decisions.”

The planning department worked with Sheila Hess of CC Environment & Planning of East Bethany, Barbara Johnston of LaBella Associates Inc. of Rochester and Matt Ingalls of Ingalls Planning & Design of Fairport, as well as town and village officials, to study each municipality’s environmental and economic strengths and weaknesses, and come up with recommendations to support future growth, policy and zoning procedures.

Some of the “strengths” that were identified included natural resources, location, new infrastructure, low taxes and low crime rate, while some of the “weaknesses” were New York State policies, regulations, laws and taxes; transportation issues; competing land uses; and an aging population.

More than half of the project’s cost – in real dollars and in-kind contributions – came from a $175,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The four communities along with the planning department, Genesee County Economic Development Center and New York Green Inc., a nonprofit organization that guides conservation and community development in Western New York, provided the remainder of the funding, Oltramari said.

Oltramari said the four communities involved in the NYSERDA project are the ones that will be affected the most by the development of the WNY Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama – which is preparing for the arrival of the 1366 Technologies solar wafer plant and the promise of hundreds of jobs.

“Each of the communities now has a map calibrated specifically for them,” he said. “Additionally, the towns of Batavia and Alabama have incorporated some of the committee’s recommendations into their Comprehensive Plan updates.”

(Toward that end, the Town of Batavia Planning Board has scheduled a training on SG/GG as it relates to its Comprehensive Plan for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 29) at Town Hall).

He noted that the SG/GG maps are serving as models for other communities, with the Town of Bergen and Town of Le Roy using some of its suggestions as leaders update their Comprehensive Plans.

SG/GG recommendations in the area of zoning pointed to a “hybrid” approach – using codes that maintain and protect the area’s rural character and natural resources.

The NYSERDA grant also provided energy audits of the communities’ facilities and vehicles, Oltramari said.

The Town and Village of Oakfield held public hearings on the subject in November. The Town of Batavia has scheduled a public workshop for 5 p.m. Dec. 7 and a public hearing for 7 p.m. Dec. 21 – both at Town Hall – while the Town of Alabama has scheduled a public hearing for 7:15 p.m. Dec. 17 at its Town Hall.

“Public hearings need to be held and then it is up to the local municipalities to decide if they wish to adopt any of the recommendations into their zoning regulations,” Oltramari said.

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