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Hickory Ridge Estates

August 18, 2021 - 12:19pm

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The Batavia Town Planning Board wants to see “a big idea” before passing judgment on developers David and Katie Ficarella’s proposal to construct what they are calling the Hickory Ridge Estates senior housing complex on the north side of Route 33 (Pearl Street Road), just over a mile west of the City of Batavia limits.

The Ficarellas, along with engineer John Schenne of Schenne & Associates, East Aurora, and general contractor Frank Lazarus of Lazarus Industries, Buffalo, appeared at the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday night to re-introduce their plan, which is estimated to cost $17 million upon full buildout.

The Lovers Lane Road couple, about 4 ½ years ago, presented a somewhat different idea - a 110-unit senior residential site, working with Calamar Enterprises of Wheatfield.  That failed to materialize, however, and they are back with a new plan that they hope to build in three phases.

While David Ficarella said he hoped the board would review the site plan of Phase 1 at this time – and deal with future phases later, Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski and Town Engineer Steve Mountain advised that the project needed to be submitted in its entirety.

“You can make it smaller if you want to later, but it’s better to do it all as a big idea,” Jasinski said.

Mountain concurred, stating that “the biggest thing that we need in order for the planning board to do a SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) is exactly what this project and any future phases entail.”

PRESENT THE PROJECT AS A WHOLE

“The site plan … is more than sufficient to bring to the planning board. What we need now is ‘What’s the concept on Phase 1? Phase 2, and where’s the off-site sewer going,” he added. “Any improvements that are part of the project now or in the future have to be identified so they can look at the project as a whole under the environmental review.”

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said he has received Ficarella’s application, but won’t be able to forward it to the Genesee County Planning Board until the entire subdivision process is complete.

Mountain noted that the planning board needs to see where public roads will be put in, the location of private roadway, plans for private sewer and connecting to public sewer infrastructure, along with information about traffic flow.

The Ficarellas said that Phase 1 will consist of the construction of 40 duplex rentals for tenants age 55 and over on 20.629 acres, located across from Donahue Road, and stretching west along the state highway. All of the units will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Phase 2 calls for an additional 10 duplex rental units on 7 acres just north of the first phase, beyond the National Grid right-of-way that has been identified as a future extension of the Ellicott Trail.

Phase 3 is construction of either rental or custom build homes on 40 acres – extending Donahue Road to the west end of Edgewood Drive, which is part of the Meadowbrook Estates development.

WETLAND MITIGATION REQUIRED

Schenne, who said he designed the Meadowbrook Estates subdivision for (the late) Gary McWethy about 15 years ago, explained that he is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to obtain wetlands permits as about 25 percent of the Phase 1 parcel is wetlands.

Currently, a pond exists on the site and two other ponds for stormwater will be created as required by state law to get a stormwater permit, he noted.

“We have to collect the stormwater, detain it, treat it and release it,” he said. “And we’re not allowed to do that in the wetlands.”

He said the Phase 1 site will drain to Route 33, where there is a large drainage channel along the road, and eventually all of the project ponds will be connected with underground storm pipes and drain tubing.

When asked if the units had basements, he said that would not be the case, adding that the site being flat and having a high groundwater table “really doesn’t lend itself to basements.”

Schenne said the proposal also includes about 3,000 linear feet of water line.

“Gravity sewers would connect through an adjacent property that Dave controls at this point – to the east – and connect to the Meadowbrook subdivision,” he said. “There’s a lift station there and our sewers would dump into sanitary sewers there and run through their lift station to get to the city treatment plant.”

ANOTHER ACCESS POINT ON EDGEWOOD

All utilities, cable television and telephone lines will be underground, said Ficarella, adding that he is working out the logistics with the utility companies and Spectrum.

“Everything is underway. We’re waiting to break ground as soon as we can,” he said.

Lazarus said his company will provide cold-rolled steel to be used to frame the units, instead of lumber, to help the developers keep construction costs “consistent.”

“We use this in the commercial environment .. extensive use in the multi-family and commercial side of things,” he said. “It does have all the engineering requirements for residential … and it doesn’t affect the comfort of the home in any way, shape or form.”

Concerning Phase 3, planner Paul Marchese questioned the plan to connect to Edgewood Drive, pointing out that there currently is only one entrance to and exit from the road.

“Gary (McWethy) was given the permission to expand to some of those but the requirement was that he had to put that point of egress unto (Route) 33 but it never happened,” Marchese said.

Schenne replied that it didn’t happen due to the exorbitant cost of putting in the roads and utilities, but things are different now.

“With this big development going here, the need for a secondary egress for emergency vehicles, plus the fact that we have a force main that we want to run across there, makes a lot of sense to connect this up,” he said, as he distributed a map of a site plan showing nine additional building lots at the west end of Edgewood.

FUEL STATION OR STORE ON SITE?

Jasinski said that there has been much discussion about extending Edgewood Drive, “but this is the first time that it looks like it’s going to happen.”

Ficarella mentioned putting a multi-use facility on 1.75 acres in the southwest corner of the Phase 1 development, possibly a fuel station or store. Currently, it is zoned Agricultural-Residential, and would need a special use permit.

He was advised to include that – as well as details about Phase 2 units as it pertains to the future Ellicott Trail extension -- in the site plan for the entire scope of the project.

“Again, you have to hone in on exactly what it is you’re going to build,” Mountain advised. “And once you know that, that’s when we can review everything.

“Essentially, you need a draft plat mat, so if there are going to be future public roads going to Edgewood, we need to see that layout. It doesn’t have to be a ton of engineering, but it has to be enough to know that it will work – and it all has to be laid out so we can review everything.”

Schenne said that he expects to have the requested drawings done by the planning board’s September meeting.

REALTY OFFICE SIGN APPROVED

In other action, planners approved placement of a sign and the site plan for Zambito Realtors to open an office in a house the company recently purchased at 8329 Lewiston Rd., across the street from Applebee’s.

Lang said the sign would be placed 36 feet from the road and out of the right-of-way, and the site plan meets all existing town zoning regulations.

Owned by Rita Zambito and her son, Mark, the agency has three other locations – the main office in Medina and offices in Lockport and Orchard Park. Rita Zambito said about seven real estate agents will be working out of the Batavia site.

The renovation project includes siding, windows and removal of a breezeway to make room for a handicap ramp. Future plans call for widening the driveway to allow for more parking.

Photo: Presenting the Hickory Ridge Estates development proposal to the Batavia Town Planning Board last night are, from left, David and Katie Ficarella, and John Schenne. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: Lovers Lane Road couple's senior housing development off Pearl Street Road is back on the table | The Batavian

June 9, 2021 - 2:19pm

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A proposal by a Lovers Lane Road couple to construct a multiunit senior housing complex off Route 33 (Pearl Street Road) about 1.2 miles west of the City of Batavia limits is back in the news again – four and a half years after it was introduced to the Batavia Town Planning Board.

David and Katie Ficarella, owners of 120-plus acres in the vicinity of their home, said they have the financing in place to build the $17 million, 80-unit Hickory Ridge Estates.

“It’s been a long time coming,” David Ficarella said. “We have some good people on our team and I think it’s going to go very well.”

Ficarella’s team includes Lazarus Industries of Buffalo, the general contractor, and Schenne & Associates of East Aurora, the engineering firm.

The development will feature 40 duplex houses, each of about 1,500 square feet – including a one-car garage – with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and high-end fixtures and appliances. The site also will include a pond and various trees.

“We want to keep as much of the natural landscape as possible,” they said.

The units will be rented at a market rate to be determined.

The complex, open to residents age 55 and older, will sit on about 21 acres on the north side of Route 33, across from Donahue Road, and stretching west along the state highway.

In November 2016, David Ficarella approached town planners with the idea – at that time a 110-unit senior residential site to be developed in conjunction with Calamar Enterprises of Wheatfield. That plan fell through, however, and he is back with something he believes is solid and, once again, is anticipating the town’s support.

“We’re hoping to meet with the town very soon,” he said, noting that he will have to run the proposal by Genesee County and town planners. “We have talked about adding some roads and possibly having an extension of the Ellicott Trail run through the property. We definitely are looking for the town’s feedback.”

Batavia Town Engineer Steve Mountain said that Ficarella needs to provide more information prior to submitting an application. From there, his proposal would be considered by the planning boards.

“It would have to go through a State Environmental Quality Review and likely would need awarding of a special use permit or planned unit development,” Mountain said. “Since it is in an agricultural-residential district, it would be allowed with a special use permit.”

Ficarella said he is working with Lazarus Industries on a construction schedule, and would like to have the first building up by August to serve as a model home.

“I have heard from at least 10 people about renting there,” he said. “The goal is to have them rented before we put the buildings up.”

The rising cost of construction materials has forced him to change his strategy as far as what goes into the frame of the homes.

“We would have started earlier but there’s been a 300-percent increase in construction materials. We had to regroup and go to cold-formed steel, which wasn’t a bad thing. We redesigned the prints and it’s coming together,” he said.

So, instead of 2-by-4 lumber in the walls, contractors will be installing cold-formed steel.

“They make the steel right there in Buffalo. Even the rafters, trusses and all that will be steel. Other than that, it’s the same house,” David Ficarella said.

This would be the first phase of a three-phase plan, he said. The other two phases are putting a second (similar but smaller) development on 30 acres to the north of Hickory Ridge Estates and then developing another 30 acres for single-family homes onto the new Donahue Road to an extension off Edgewood Drive.

Edgewood Drive is part of the McWethy development between Route 33 and South Main Street Road. Currently, it dead-ends at the west end.

Asked if he thought that would create a traffic issue on Edgewood, he said that wouldn’t be the case.

“There just aren’t enough people in there (his senior complex),” he said. “It would be beneficial to Edgewood and residents of other streets in that development who could exit onto Route 33 to go to Corfu or Buffalo. And it would create another entrance for emergency vehicles into the development.”

He also said he has an option to purchase more land toward South Main Street and would like to see a road connecting with South Main Street.

The Ficarellas have contacted the Genesee County Economic Development Center to inquire about tax abatements. They said the project will create two full-time and three part-time positions and 200 temporary construction jobs, and would place no additional tax burden on the two school districts involved (Pembroke and City of Batavia).

As far as the Ellicott Trail is concerned, Genesee County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari said an extension would be feasible, following the National Grid right-of-way that starts near Angelica Textile Services on Apollo Drive in the city and would follow along the north side of Hickory Ridge Estates.

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Top photo: Overhead view of the location of the proposed Hickory Ridge Estates (the area in brown above the words Pearl Street Road). Bottom photo: Cleared parcel that sits behind trees on the north side of Pearl Street Road, across from Donahue Road. 

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