As a member of the Town/Village of Le Roy Planning Board, Tom Frew supports the development of new housing throughout the municipality – as long as he sees the project as a good fit with the surrounding neighborhood.
When looking at a venture proposed by Batavia developer Eric Biscaro to construct 30 duplex patio home rentals for seniors on a 20-acre parcel east of East Avenue in the village, however, Frew said that he has some concerns.
“I am not against development back there, as long as they were a continuation of residences like the rest of this neighborhood,” Frew said on Saturday as he took this reporter on a tour of the area. Frew’s home on Poplar Lane is located about 500 feet north of the development site.
Frew said that others living on Poplar Lane, East Avenue and Orchard Drive agree with him, prompting him to distribute a flyer to all residents of those streets to attend a public hearing on the matter at 7 p.m. May 19 at the Village of Le Roy Hall at 3 W. Main St.
Biscaro recently said that the project would be larger than his Clinton Crossings Adult Community on Clinton Street in the Town of Batavia. The Le Roy plan also includes blocking out eight building lots along the west perimeter of the site to be made available for purchase.
In order to make this happen, the area would have to be rezoned from Residential to Planned Unit Development, action that already has been recommended for approval (with modifications) by the Genesee County Planning Board.
Frew believes that a senior housing complex near an upper-end residential neighborhood is comparing apples to oranges.
“The south end of East Avenue intersects with Poplar Lane, and then Poplar Lane intersects with Orchard Drive, and the homes on these streets are valued in the $150,000 to $250,000 range – they’re all in the same ballpark,” Frew said. “So, now we’re taking property that is zoned Residential and asking to zone it as a PUD.
“If somebody was coming in here and wanted to put a development in – let’s say 15 houses of a couple hundred thousand dollars each, I wouldn’t have an issue. But I have an issue with the effect could be on the value of my home and the additional traffic. There’s only one outlet now, although I know that the county said they’d like to see the development of South Avenue.”
Frew, who said he was the lone dissenter at a recent planning board meeting, advised that South Avenue would be a new street that would run to South Street.
“Their plan is, and this is from the mayor (Greg Rogers) himself, is for the time being, they will gravel it and put a chain link fence up, which the emergency services people will have a key to,” Frew said.
The Batavian reached out to Rogers and Biscaro for comment.
Frew also said he is uneasy about the additional traffic created by the development – predicting an increase of 70 to 100 more vehicles “in a quiet, residential area” with the only access to Route 5 via East Avenue.
He also said he believes the village is endorsing the project and is committed to installing the necessary infrastructure.
“There is 800 feet of new road, new storm sewers, new sanitary sewers, new water, new gas, all those utilities,” Frew said. “The village is committed to run down the length of East Avenue to give Eric access – and Eric will take care of backing his development – but Eric has got no skin in the game regarding the cost.”
Frew estimates the cost of those utilities plus curbing would be around $700,000.
“I’m looking at 30 buildings at let’s say $200,000 each,” he said. “They’re not fancy. The revenue that they would generate from those buildings versus the cost of that infrastructure will blow your mind. It would be an eigh-t to 10-year payback to get even, and I don’t see that as a good investment of my tax dollars.”
Contacted this morning, Le Roy entrepreneur Jim Gomborone said his “main concern” is the potential for flooding on his Mercy Grove and Le Roy Country Club properties along East Main Street from a stream that flows through the area.
“When they had a four-acre school up there, I got extremely flooded. We couldn’t handle three inches of rain. So, you saw the impact with just four acres,” he said. “Twenty acres, with roads and houses and all that other stuff, probably 70 percent of it will be buildings and roads. I’ve got a strong suspicion that I’m not going to be able to handle the water from it.”
Gomborone also said the village’s decision to fund the infrastructure is a disservice to taxpayers.
“Why are we spending village taxpayers’ money for a guy that who’s in business for himself, running rental units? He’s going to have 60 rental units back there,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s going to be a substantial amount of rent from that thing, and I don’t think the taxpayers should pay someone in private enterprise for infrastructure. I wouldn’t ask them to pave my driveway.”
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Photo at top: Poplar Lane resident Tom Frew holds site plan as he stands on the north end of a 20-acre parcel proposed for a senior housing project off East Avenue in the Village of Le Roy. Photo at bottom: The end of East Avenue that would be expanded and paved to create a new street to connect to South Street. Photos by Mike Pettinella.