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Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp.

August 17, 2021 - 4:57pm

With a qualified candidate for an open assistant district attorney post waiting for results of the New York State bar examination, the Genesee County Legislature’s Public Service Committee is recommending passage of District Attorney Lawrence Friedman’s request to create a new position that would enable her to begin employment right away.

Friedman, at Monday’s PSC meeting at the Office of Emergency Management Services on State Street Road, said he just received word that an ADA will be leaving in two weeks, leaving a void in his department that needs to be filled immediately.

“I have someone in mind to hire … who took the bar at the end of July,” he said. “Experience has taught us it is very difficult to fill these positions.”

Per the resolution passed by the committee and forwarded to the full legislature next week, the candidate is a Genesee County resident who completed law school and has indicated a desire to become an ADA upon passing the bar exam.

The new position of a full-time temporary criminal law associate, per the resolution, “will allow this individual to perform many of the duties of an Assistant District Attorney, while under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney … to help alleviate the backlog of work.”

Friedman said another ADA is on Family Leave until January 2022.

The candidate, who was not named, has been a Genesee County dispatcher for seven years and has experience as a court clerk, Friedman said.

“I’ve known her for a long time. She’s a local resident who very much wants to be a prosecutor,” he said, adding that an order from the Appellate Division authorizes her to work during a “training period” until becoming a full-fledged lawyer.

The term of the new position is Aug. 30 through Feb. 28, 2022, but Friedman said he hopes it will be shorter than that.

In another development, the committee voted to accept an Airport Improvement Program grant from the Federal Aviation Administration for the reconstruction of the existing apron and associated lighting at the Genesee County Airport.

Total cost of the capital project is $1.5 million, with federal and state funding taking care of all but the county’s share of $75,866 (which will be paid from the 1 percent sales tax fund).

The legislature’s Ways & Means Committee met after the PSC, approving several resolutions, including the following:

  • Charging back to several towns and the City of Batavia for assessment rolls, tax rolls, tax bills, supplies, and assessment update services that were provided in the previous fiscal year.

The total amount of chargebacks, which will be applied to 2022 town and city budgets, is $87,651. Another $12,650 is being charged back for New York State licensing fees.

Amounts by municipality, with figures representing number of parcels, assessment rolls/bills, license fees and total:

  • Alabama --- 1,130; $3,390.00; $1,000.00; $4,390.00.
  • Alexander -- 1,459; $4,377.00; $1,000.00; $5,377.00.
  • Batavia (Town) -- 3,121; $9,363.00; $631.05; $9,994.05.
  • Bergen -- 1,668; $5,004.00; $1,000.00; $6,004.00.
  • Bethany -- 1,019; $3,057.00; $427.10; $3,484.10.
  • Byron -- 1,359 ; $4,077.00; $1,000.00; $5,077.00.
  • Darien -- 1,844; $5,532.00; $772.90; $6,304.90.
  • Elba -- 1,502; $4,506.00; $1,000.00; $5,506.00.
  • Le Roy -- 3,483; $10,449.00; $1,045.32; $11,494.32.
  • Oakfield -- 1,522; $4,566.00; $1,000.00; $5,566.00.
  • Pavilion -- 1,515; $4,545.00; $454.68; $4,999.68.
  • Pembroke -- 2,485; $7,455.00; $1,200.00; $8,655.00.
  • Stafford -- 1,576; $4,728.00; $1,000.00; $5,728.00.
  • Batavia (City) -- 5,534; $16,602.00; $1,118.95; $17,720.95.

The 2020 chargebacks totaled $98,427.00.

  • Authorization to submit a grant application to the New York State Office of Community Renewal for a Community Development Block Grant of up to $1 million to assist small businesses (25 employees or less) and microenterprises in the wake of losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds would be facilitated by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp., said County Manager Matt Landers.

The resolution indicates the grant will lead to “substantial benefit to Genesee County in forms of safer businesses, new investment, and new or restored employment positions.”

  • On another front, Landers said the committee charged with studying the new county jail is supporting the building of a 184-bed, four-pod facility on West Main Street Road, including the construction of a backup E-911 center.

Landers said the plan is to solicit bids in the late fall or early winter and to break ground next spring.

July 21, 2021 - 6:48pm

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers has yet to hear from government officials in the towns of Darien and Pembroke and Village of Corfu on whether they will be opting in to an updated countywide water supply agreement. But he is sticking to his timeline to enact a new sales tax distribution plan to all municipalities.

Landers, at this afternoon’s Genesee County Legislature Ways & Means Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse, presented a resolution that immediately (when passed by the full legislature) rescinds the county’s annual voluntary distribution payments. It also directs the county treasurer to discontinue all future such payments until further notice.

The measure passed and will be forwarded to the legislature’s next meeting, which is set for July 28.

Landers said the county made the first six monthly distribution payments this year but is changing course going forward – offering municipalities (with a deadline of Aug. 13), the following options:

  • With universal buy-in to revised water supply agreements, accept $10 million annually over the next 38 years, with the amounts per town or village determined by the total assessed property valuation;
  • Without universal buy-in, accept $7 million in annual sales tax distributions and another $3 million in periodic revenue distribution over the next 38 years, minus equalization of water surcharge revenue to those municipalities not opting in.

Currently, Darien, Pembroke and Corfu have not signed the water agreements, although their town and village boards have scheduled meetings over the next couple weeks.

“The towns and villages are aware of this resolution (to rescind the agreement that was passed in 2020),” Landers told the committee.

On Monday, a draft of the new sales tax agreement – without any specific dollar amounts filled in -- was sent to the New York State Comptroller’s Office for review.

Landers has set Sept. 14 as the date to send the amended and signed agreement to the Comptroller for formal approval.

SHOOTING FOR A $1 MILLION GRANT

In other action, the Ways & Means Committee voted in favor of a resolution to hold a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Old County Courthouse to provide information regarding the application of funding from the Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 Response program in the amount of $1 million.

Landers explained that the money is targeted for assistance to small businesses in the county, those with 25 or fewer employees.

He said the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. will help facilitate the money, if received, to go toward programs such as job creation, equipment/furnishings for parklet-type outdoor dining locations, personal protective equipment, and air handling measures, telecommuting employment and related initiatives.

“We have 12 months to spend the money from the date of applying,” he said, adding that the GGLDC, Downtown Batavia Improvement District, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and other outlets will be promoting this heavily. “This is money beyond the $11 million that we received from the American Rescue Plan Act, and we still have that.”

Landers said the majority of the funds will be in the form of grants, with some to be allocated as loans.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” he added.

HCA WITH PLUG POWER IN THE WORKS

The committee also approved a resolution authorizing the county to enter into a Host Community Agreement with Gateway Hydrogen LLC, also known as Plug Power Inc., of Latham, which is planning to build a green hydrogen production facility at the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama.

Landers reported that the county – as long as the proposed project goes through – would receive $366,000 annually for 20 years plus another $147,000 annually from a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement.

“This brings revenue to the county to be used for general operations without having negative tax cap implications as well as giving us the option of how to use it,” he said, adding that it is projected to start on Jan. 1, 2023.

Host Community Agreements or Host Benefit Agreements are legal contracts that benefit both the community and the developer of a project -- stipulating the benefits a developer agrees to fund or furnish, in exchange for community support of a project.

Benefits can include commitments to hire directly from a community, contributions to economic trust funds, local workforce training guarantees and more.

In this case, Landers said some of the funds could go toward a Niagara County connection that would increase the water supply to the northern region of the county, including around the STAMP site.

“This may be able to support the possible connection to Niagara County,” he said. “It’s basically gap water between Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Countywide Water Program.”

He also said he believes the Town of Alabama will be entering into a HCA with Plug Power.

The PILOT agreement will serve to lower the tax cap, which helps reduce the property tax rate, he said.

Previously: Genesee County leaders present plans to distribute $10 million in sales tax/other revenue to towns and villages

July 21, 2021 - 1:24pm

med_tech_solar_1.jpg

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.

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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