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Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp.

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.

April 21, 2021 - 1:00pm

The Town of Batavia Planning Board will be adding a “public comments” segment to its meetings, which generally are scheduled for the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

In response to Planning Board Member Don Partridge’s inquiry into the procedure for conducting an annual review of Area 51 Motocross, a businesses that has been granted a special use permit, the board Tuesday night agreed to give residents time at the beginning of each meeting to bring up pertinent issues.

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said he spoke with the town’s attorney and supervisor, and both men recommended that the planning board not schedule a public hearing for special use permit reviews, but to offer “an open period for any comments, questions or concerns.”

Lang said that yearly reviews of operations with special use permits are conducted along with the fire inspection of the facility. He then suggested to Chair Kathleen Jasinski to “get on your agenda as open for public comments on every agenda.”

Jasinski said she wouldn’t want to see 10 people unannounced at every meeting, but the board didn’t think there would be that many and felt it important to give a forum for town residents as all meetings are open to the public.

It was noted that the Batavia Town Board (as well as the Batavia City Council) includes a public comments period at their meetings.

Planning Board Member Paul Marchese suggested a five-minute public comments section at the start of their meetings.

“It’s really not going to be significantly taxing to any of us and we limit it to five minutes,” he said. “I think we really want to be as transparent as we can in these wonderful times that we live in. To me, I feel it is part of our duty to listen to the people that we represent.”

In other action, the planning board:

  • Tabled a site plan review and special use permit request by Batavia Solar LLC, which is seeking to install a ground-mounted solar system for the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. on R. Stephen Hawley Drive, across from Genesee Community College.

The board declared itself as the lead agency for the project and also approved a conditional negative declaration for the State Environmental Quality Review. Conditions on the SEQR center upon proper screening of the system from a neighboring couple’s home and from the roadway.

Planners advised Jim Taravella, representing LaBella Associates, to provide visualizations of the layout, showing five- and 10-year projections of the site based on screening growth, and asked the consulting firm to limit the number of utility poles.

  • Scheduled a public hearing for May 4 in connection with a special use permit referral from COR Development to add a drive-thru to an existing commercial building at 4222 Veterans Memorial Drive. The space, formerly used by Metro Mattress, will be the site of a new Chipotle restaurant.
  • Learned that on May 17, the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals will consider an area variance request by Dickinson’s Auto, 4028 W. Main Street Road, as part of a plan to construct a new truck storage building.
September 2, 2020 - 6:07pm

The passing of a resolution authorizing the Town of Batavia to apply for a $750,000 New York State grant is welcome news to officials of Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., the dairy farmer-owned conglomerate that purchased the former Alpina Foods plant in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road.

“We’re targeting on opening as soon as reasonably possible pending the OCR (Office of Community Renewal Community Development Block Grant) approval and equipment ordering, as we need additional equipment for the facility,” said Mike Patterson, chief financial officer for the company – formed in 2006 as a result of a merger between Upstate Farms Cooperative and Niagara Milk Cooperative.

The Batavia Town Board this afternoon passed the measure, along with another OCR grant application for the same amount for a $21.6 million project at HP Hood LLC, in the Agri-Business Park to install a new filler line. The HP Hood plan would created about 56 new jobs, including positions that would provide entry-level employee training.

The Alpina plant has been vacant for the last 18 months following Upstate’s $22.5 million purchase of what was a $60 million investment by Alpina, a Colombia-based company that attempted to break into the U.S. Greek yogurt market more than six years ago.

Patterson said company leaders have been “trying to figure out the best use for the plant,” adding that they spent another $1 million since the acquisition and are investing an additional $4,040,000 to get the processing plant up and running.

Currently, Upstate has employees working at its membership office in the R.E. Chapin building and at the O-At-Ka Milk Products facility, both on Ellicott Street Road.

All told, the cooperative employs 1,800 people in New York, Patterson said, with the opening of the Batavia plant expected to create 50 more jobs.

Patterson said the OCR grant will support the purchase of necessary equipment and the training of new employees.

“One of the toughest issues we face in this area is finding qualified help, so we’re trying to get employees that are ready to be trained, and they will be brought into our manufacturing sites – not only for us but for Hood and O-At-Ka and other places,” he said. “It was all part of this project.”

The Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation, an arm of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, is acting as a pass-through for the grant/loan to reach Upstate.

“We get involved with the Office of Community Renewal and have done a bunch of these projects throughout time when we get great companies investing in Genesee County,” said Chris Suozzi, GCEDC vice president of Business Development. “We want to be able to help them out.”

He said the OCR program has been “our friend” and is confident that Upstate will receive the grant.

“It’s one of the great grant or low-interest loan programs,” he said. “The grant program is kind of how we’ve devised it with the companies, and it helps them continue to grow.”

Patterson said the current project does not include any tax incentives from the GCEDC.

“The original IDA (Industrial Development Agency) tax abatements were given to Alpina when they built the facility. There is no new additional IDA money that way for that (but) there would be on any future expansion.”

November 1, 2019 - 1:19pm

Press release:

The Board of Directors the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC) passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2020 at its board meeting Oct. 31.

The budget anticipates cash outflows of approximately $2.6 million.

“The mission of the GGLDC is to foster local economic development by making real estate development investments that prepare sites in Genesee County for new corporate tenants,” said Don Cunningham, chairman of the GGLDC.

“The GGLDC also provides strategic investment funding to support the GCEDC’s ongoing economic development and workforce development programs.”

The anticipated 2020 expenditures of the GGLDC include operations and maintenance for the MedTech Centre building, site/corporate park maintenance, an economic development program support grant to the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), continuing to support a dedicated workforce development consultant, and professional services.

Other significant items include:

  • An $820,000 pass-through grant from the New York State Department of Transportation that furthers the ability of the tenants of the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park (Ag Park) to access rail;
  • $450,000 in debt service payments supporting development at the MedTech Centre campus;
  • and $728,000 in expenses related to wastewater treatment facility upgrades in the Village of Corfu in partnership with the Town of Pembroke, supporting the Buffalo East Technology Park.

A major source of revenue is rent of $680,000 from the MedTech Centre facility. Additional cash receipts will include $376,000 in principal and interest payments from several companies repaying loans made in previous years.

“The GGLDC will continue to actively market our shovel-ready parks in collaboration with the Genesee County Economic Development Center in 2020,” Cunningham said. “We have been working on a few projects that we anticipate will come to fruition by the end of 2020.”

September 6, 2019 - 12:04pm

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) adopted their 2020 budget at a board meeting today, projecting expenditures of $29.7 million.

The budget includes $25.5 million in grants for the development of infrastructure at the Western New York Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP).

Of that total, $20.2 million is dedicated to the advancement of Phase I infrastructure at the campus (remaining funds from the original $33 million state allocation); and $5.3 million is dedicated to the advancement of Phase II infrastructure (initial funds from the $8 million Empire State Development grant).

The 1,250-acre WNY STAMP campus in the Town of Alabama is the largest high-tech greenfield site in New York, and connects low-cost hydropower, large-scale infrastructure, and the Buffalo-Rochester Metro Corridor’s workforce talent.

“The GCEDC is building WNY STAMP to be a market-ready site, and a catalyst for the success of the people of Genesee County and companies that will create a stronger future for our region,” said Paul Battaglia, chairman of the GCEDC.

As a public benefit corporation, the GCEDC generates fees from economic development projects and other sources to run the agency’s operations, programs and services.

The GCEDC anticipates $375,000 in revenues from project origination fees and $3,800 in revenues from revolving loan fund interest; $300,000 in annuities from projects approved in previous years.

Revenues also include $300,000 that will be received from the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC), and $50,000 anticipated from the Genesee County Funding Corporation, to support the agency’s overall Economic Development Program.

“There is a large body of work that occurs at this agency each year, and I am pleased that we continue to find resourceful ways to serve the businesses and citizens of Genesee County,” said Lezlie Farrell, CFO of the GCEDC.

“Operating expenditures have been controlled and reduced wherever possible.”

The GCEDC budget anticipates a $233,000 allocation by Genesee County to support economic development and a growing return on investments to the county.

In 2018, the last full year of data available, GCEDC projects (current and expired) produced more than $4.4 million in combined PILOT -- Payment In Lieu Of Taxes -- payments and property taxes to local taxing jurisdictions.

“Genesee County is a vital partner in our efforts to bring new business and growth to our region," Battaglia said. "We rely on the Genesee County Legislature to support our budget and operations so we can continue to enable business and community success.

"In 2018, Genesee County benefited from $19 returned on every one dollar allocated to GCEDC operations.”

March 25, 2016 - 10:16am

Press release:

Mostert, Manzanero & Scott, LLP, presented a summary of the audit process undertaken, the scope of their engagement and audit results to the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corporation (GGLDC) Board at the March 24 meeting.    

The GGLDC Board engaged the certified public accounting firm to perform an independent audit of 2015 financial statements. The independent audit was designed to issue an opinion on the financial statements of the GGLDC for the year ending Dec. 31; a management letter to the Board of Directors management; and, a report about internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Government Auditing Standards.  

Included in the management letter is a statement from Mostert, Manzanero & Scott, LLP, affirming that no material deficiencies in internal controls were identified during the audit. The firm also affirmed that, in their opinion, the audited financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the GGLDC as of Dec. 31,  in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

“I am pleased with the continued positive audit results, and it speaks to the professionalism and transparency of the organization,” said Thomas Felton, president and chairman of the GGLDC.  

In 2015, the GGLDC, including Genesee Agri-Business, LLC (GABLLC) activity, received $1.2 million in grant revenues.

These grants included a NYS Homes and Community Renewal grant that supported infrastructure development at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park (GVAB) and the LeRoy/ Bergen America’s Best Communities grant, as well as an Empire State Development grant to support the development and marketing of the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP).  

The GGLDC also recognized grant revenue from National Grid, which supported Buffalo East Technology Park (BTEP) infrastructure, an annual Community Benefit Agreement payment with CNL Income (Darien Lake) to support infrastructure in Western Genesee County, and an annual PILOT Increment Financing payment from Genesee County that supports a bond payment for infrastructure at the GVAB Park.

Currently, there is $6.9 million of land held for sale and development under the agencies control including 57 acres at the Gateway II Corporate Park, 67 acres at the BETP, 250 acres at the GVAB Park, 34 acres at Med Tech Park, and the Upstate MedTech Centre Building including an Innovation Zone for entrepreneurial businesses.

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