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Le Roy Town Board

August 20, 2021 - 3:10pm

Le Roy Town Supervisor Jim Farnholz put an athletic competition spin on news that Great Lakes Cheese Co. Inc. will not be building a $500 million, 486,000-square-foot processing facility on land adjacent to the Le Roy Food & Tech Park on Route 19 north of the village.

“You know what, as a coach would say, ‘When somebody goes down, it’s the next man up – that’s how I look at it,” said Farnholz, speaking by telephone today.

Word that the Ohio-based cheese manufacturer is looking elsewhere – reportedly at a 130-acre site in the Cattaraugus County towns of Farmersville and Franklinville – reached Farnholz over the past couple days. However, he said, the Le Roy Town Board has done much to set the stage for another company to come in.

“We’re going to request some of the archaeological work and some of the site planning if Great Lakes is willing to give it to us, since they have already done that,” he said. “And that would be a further incentive for another business to come in because the archaeological and some of those other things are done already.

“We checked a lot of boxes. We’ve got water, gas and electric solved, so I think that makes it more attractive for the next one on deck.”

Although Great Lakes Cheese did not submit a formal application to the Genesee County Economic Development Center to review its site plan or to request tax incentives, company representatives did check out the location and talked to individual landowners about the possibility of selling their property.

REZONING FOR FUTURE EXPANSION

Also, on July 8, the town board unanimously voted to rezone seven parcels totaling 185 acres in the north of the Le Roy Food & Tech Park – between Route 19 (Lake Street Road), West Bergen Road and Randall Road – from R-2 (Residential) to I-2 (Light Industrial) to accommodate future business expansion.

“We did everything we could and we will continue to try and attract business and industry,” Farnholz said. “In the end, there were some DEC (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) issues with wastewater, and I think there were some incentives that other municipalities or counties may have offered that financially weren’t available or the best idea for us or the best fit.”

The town board’s decision to rezone the parcels was made despite opposition from homeowners in that area, many of whom spoke at a public hearing prior to the vote.

One of the most outspoken against it was Eric Raines Jr., who with his girlfriend, purchased the historic Olmsted Manor and its 14 acres of woodlands on Lake Street Road. Raines’ contention was that the town’s Future Land Map showed that the area was supposed to remain “agricultural.”

Contacted today, he said, "It is what it is, and I'd like to thank anybody that supported us. I guess I'm going to be able to watch the sunset over the soybeans for at least another day."

A check of the Genesee County PROS Property Search site lists the owners of the rezone parcels as Englerth (four parcels, 123.7 acres); Sam Caccamise Estate (one parcel, 53.5 acres); Stella (one parcel, 2.8 acres), and Falcone (one parcel, 5 acres).

GCEDC OWNS TECH PARK

The GCEDC owns the vacant 71.7-acre Le Roy Food & Tech Park located to the south of all but the Falcone parcel. The park is zoned I-2.

Mark Masse, GCEDC senior vice president of operations, said his agency continues to promote the site to manufacturers, both locally and outside of New York State.

“The GCEDC is always looking for companies to locate and expand their businesses here,” he said. “It is our goal to provide the appropriate acreage and utilities that will enable these companies to pair up their operations.”

According to minutes of a June 24 board meeting of the County of Cattaraugus IDA, Great Lakes Cheese Co. Inc., and Schwab Land Holdings, LLC, applied to that agency “to allow and direct the CCIDA to partner and facilitate the proposed project an action by undertaking certain studies and findings to help achieve shovel ready site status.”

Continuing, the minutes state the facility would preserve 229 jobs and would allow for additional hiring of 200 new employees.

Reportedly, the plant will also require 30,000 more cows from area dairy farms as it will be producing four million gallons of milk per day – twice as much as used at the company’s Cuba Cheese plant in Allegany County.

CCIDA CONSIDERS 25-YEAR PILOT

A letter dated July 27 from Corey Wiktor, CCIDA executive director, acknowledged receipt of the company’s application and request for financial assistance (tax incentives).

Wiktor, returning a phone call from The Batavian, said that while nothing has been finalized, the CCIDA is considering a 25-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement proposed by Great Lakes Cheese, as well as sales tax and mortgage tax abatements.

"We have not done that prior, but we have also not been a party to a proposed project of this magnitude," Wiktor said, noting that for every one manufacturing job at the site it could create six more jobs down the supply chain."

He said agency staff is doing its due diligence on the site, including flood plain and traffic studies, soil testing, and environmental and endangered species studies.

"And, like Le Roy, we've gone through some municipal rezoning, if you will. Things are progressing, but we still do not have a confirmed project or investment."

Previously: Le Roy Town Board votes to rezone parcels adjacent to Le Roy Food & Tech Park after hearing residents' concerns

July 9, 2021 - 9:27am

The Le Roy Town Board on Thursday night, citing its responsibility to enact measures to attract industry to its community, unanimously voted to rezone 185 acres in the vicinity of the Le Roy Food & Tech Park along West Bergen Road and Route 19 (Lake Street Road).

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See related story below.

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The board’s vote took place at 9:30 p.m. – 90 minutes after the conclusion of a public hearing on the issue of changing the zoning of seven parcels from R-2 (Residential) to I-2 (Light Industrial).

About 45 people attended the meeting at the Town Hall courtroom with the majority of the speakers coming out against the rezoning.

Those in opposition – mainly residents of Lake Street Road, West Bergen Road and Randall Road -- made impassioned pleas to the town board members to leave the R-2 zoning in place, with a couple individuals stating that any change that would open the door to manufacturing would forever destroy “our piece of heaven.”

The board, led by Supervisor James Farnholz, listened and responded – maintaining throughout that rezoning is consistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan and the priority is to encourage business to create jobs and support the town’s property tax base.

In rendering its decision following the regular town board meeting, Councilperson John Armitage made the motion to rezone from R-2 to I-2 – light industrial only – for the parcels covered, and Farnholz seconded the motion.

All five board members voted “yes," with Deputy Supervisor Dave Paddock and councilpersons John Johnson and Ronald Pangrazio voicing their approval.

At that point, Armitage asked Town Attorney Reid Whiting if the town would “still have a lot of say on what can and can not occur there,” to which Whiting responded, “Absolutely … that this was just a preliminary step.”

Farnholz added that multiple public hearings would have to take place – considering all residents that would be affected -- prior to the placement of any industry in that location.

Much of the area residents’ concerns centered on speculation that Great Lakes Cheese, a large manufacturing industry based in Ohio, has approached owners of the parcels in question with potential offers to purchase their land should the company decide to build a $500 million processing plant in the Town of Le Roy.

Eric Raines Jr. of Lake Street Road, who has been outspoken in his opposition of rezoning, said he knows of neighbors who have been contacted by Great Lakes Cheese representatives and even had in his possession a conceptual map of the proposed plant drafted by an architectural firm representing the company.

Last night, Raines (an adjacent landowner) reiterated his viewpoints, stating that he and his girlfriend chose to purchase the historic Olmsted Manor and its 14 acres of woodlands because it was in an area that he believes is meant to stay “agricultural.”

He supported his claim with a Future Land Use map showing that part of the town colored green for agriculture.

“We found the town Comprehensive Plan and there are a couple maps published in (that plan),” he said. “One is a future use map; this is the future intended use of the land of Le Roy. This assures us that the land surrounding the manor was going to remain agricultural land. The existing land map said it was going to be agricultural and it is agricultural, and that future use map also said agricultural – green.”

Raines said that he found that this plan would be adopted until 2029, and that he decided to renovate the property with that in mind.

He also said that Farnholz has stated that the rezoning was not being done specifically for Great Lakes Cheese, and that the current R-2 zoning does support agriculture and farm-related activities.

“I think the town supervisor and those in favor of this rezone know the ‘super plant’ manufacturing facility is a wild stretch of the definition of farming-related activities,” he said. “If this according to the town supervisor is an agricultural industry, I ask … ‘What is considered a farming-related industry?”

Raines drew applause when he brought up that the town board had the opportunity to rezone the parcels over the past four years, but only moved to do so after Great Lakes Cheese entered the picture.

“Great Lakes Cheese offers $20,000 an acre. Two weeks later, the town submits to the county a rezoning,” he said. “… This rezone is to support Great Lakes Cheese.”

Farnholz shot back, however, stating that Raines – in a story on The Batavian earlier this week – said that “if you were offered four times the value for your property, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” Raines then interjected, “I said we might not.”

The supervisor continued: “In the Comprehensive Plan it also states that additional economic development opportunities that arise in an around the Thruway, I-490 Interchange area, consistent with the county’s Smart Growth Plan and coordinate to ensure direct competition with existing town and village businesses.”

Whiting then said that the R-2 zone does support farm-related activities.

“The zoning ordinance is supposed to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, so this long-term goal is consistent with the contemplated change in zoning,” he said.

Undeterred, Raines said the Smart Growth Plan indicated the land to be rezoned is not considered “a developmental area” and that it is some of the best farmland in the county and warrants protection.

Farnholz countered, saying that the parcels along the Route 19 corridor “could be paved right now; it could be a mobile home park in a permitted use as it stands.”

At the outset of the public hearing Farnholz outlined the permitted uses in an R-2 district, which include single-family detached dwellings, churches and other religious buildings, parks and playgrounds, home occupation uses, home and farm gardens, agricultural buildings, garages, carports, swimming pools, tennis courts, and other larger, business-type structures with a special use permit.

Before closing, Raines submitted a petition against rezoning, signed by 10 residents of the three roads, and held up the conceptual map that he said was circulated by Great Lakes Cheese – “bullying the landowners into thinking that they had no option … it’s out of my hands, what can I do.”

Addressing the board, he drew another round of applause as he concluded, “You are a local government. You are here to protect us.”

Others who spoke during the public hearing, which lasted for an hour and 20 minutes, included the following:

Rebecca Hiler, Lake Street Road -- Stating that her property would be “completely surrounded by industrial,” she said she has done much work on her property. “This is my Zen, this is my home, this is my heaven, and you guys want to plop industrial right around me … How would you like this next to your house?”

Orion Hiler, Lake Street Road – Rebecca’s son, he said he has “felt blessed” to live at that location, having “escaped” Rochester and growing up in Le Roy. “I just see it (the aesthetics) ripped away and have this metallic monstrosity here, right in my backyard,” he said. “Having it rezoned so that semi-trucks passing in at all odd hours of the night to pick up cheese.”

Shane Hegeman, Lake Street Road – He said he opposed, citing concerns about the smell of a cheese plant. “Do you see anyone living around O-At-Ka Milk (Products in Batavia)?” he asked. “No, because that doesn’t belong in a neighborhood. We don’t need this.”

Charles Flynn, Randall Road – Noting that he is a real estate agent, he mentioned that many people in the Town of Byron are upset over the large solar system that is planned for that community and questioned whether property values would go down if the parcels were rezoned Industrial. “That’s why I question this Comprehensive Plan to try to adjust to the R-2 from the I-2 zone,” he said. “I don’t think we should make that change.”

Sarah Krzemien, Warsaw Road – She said she understands both sides of the issue, but questioned whether the town’s demographics would support the number of employees for a large industry in that area. “It just seems unnecessary, and none of us will benefit,” she said.

Kathy Glucksman, Randall Road – A longtime resident, she said that she and her husband recently refinanced their home to make improvements, and would be disappointed to find out that they would be surrounded by this industry. “It would decrease our property values, our quality of living and I believe there would be various health effects,” she said. “I urge you to protect us. If you look at our property, we are very vulnerable.”

Carol Konarski, Randall Road – A Randall Road resident for 46 years, she said she and her husband desired the peace and quiet and privacy of country living. “If you make this area an industrial area, that will be gone – it will be completely wiped out,” she said. “It’s just a little 100 by 200 (foot) plot, but it is our piece of heaven …” She added that her husband, who is deceased, would be “heartbroken if our dream that became a reality was destroyed.”

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Other issues brought up focused on increased traffic on Route 19, noise, odor, glare and screening and setbacks from residential properties as a result of large-scale manufacturing. One individual wondered if the rezoning could be put to a vote of the residents.

Farnholz said that the matter is not subject to public referendum and, responding to a comment questioning the board’s level of concern, said that they all are on the board because they do care about the community.

“We’ve taken the time to run for elected positions and all of us represent everybody in the community on a variety and multitude of issues,” he said. “At the conclusion of this hearing tonight, we’ll be jumping into a solar issues … There’s reduced funding from Genesee County. We lost almost $700,000 last year in revenue sharing from the county.

“Do we care? Your taxes have not gone up. They went up 1 cent last year … So, we do care.”

July 7, 2021 - 10:13am

eric_raines.jpg

Eight homeowners along Lake Street Road (Route 19), Randall Road and West Bergen Road – streets that border land earmarked for rezoning by the Le Roy Town Board -- have signed a petition opposing such a move and plan to bring their concerns to a public hearing Thursday night.

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 o’clock in the courtroom of the Le Roy Town Hall at 48 Main St.

Eric Raines Jr. and Annie Watkins, owners of the former Olmsted Manor on Route 19, north of the Village of Le Roy, are leading the fight to prevent the board from changing the zoning from R-2 (Residential) to Industrial, citing a county land map that shows the 185 acres in question are for agricultural use.

“We also believe that the town’s Comprehensive Plan has this area set aside for green (agricultural) use,” said Raines, who along with Watkins purchased the no_rezone_1.jpghistoric 2,900-square-foot colonial house that sits on 14 acres (mostly woods and including an orchard and small pond) last November.

Raines said the majority of the soil of the seven privately owned parcels targeted for rezoning – and possibly to be part of an eventual sale to Great Lakes Cheese as the future site of a $500 million processing plant – is of the highest quality.

“Most of that soil is ranked as A-1,” he said, referring to information from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. “To say that it would be better suited as a parking lot, I don’t believe so.”

Le Roy Town Supervisor James Farnholz, however, said rezoning to Industrial follows guidance found in a 2017 revision of the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

“The Comprehensive Plan is a guide and in that plan is the goal to develop industry along the Route 19 corridor; it was adopted in 2017,” Farnholz said. “One of the things that has caused confusion is that (people think) the property that we’re considering rezoning is agricultural property, and that is not the case.”

Farnholz said that some of the land has been farmed, “but it is R-2, which means it has been open for farming-related activities, churches and other things. They could even put a mobile home park back there.”

“What we want to do is two things – make it contiguous with the (Genesee County) Economic Development Corp. property that’s already there (the 75-acre Le Roy Food & Tech Park) and since it’s completely ringed by smart growth, it would be consistent with our Comprehensive Plan and it would be consistent with the other property around it,” he explained. “And the other side (east side) of Route 19 is already (zoned) Industrial.”

Several property owners in the vicinity of the Le Roy Food & Tech Park, which is owned by the GCEDC, reportedly have been received offers for their land by Great Lakes Cheese representatives in case the Ohio-based company goes forward with relocating from Allegany County to Genesee County.

Phone calls to one of those property owners by The Batavian were not returned at the time of the posting of this story.

Farnholz said he expects to see some of the property owners who have been contacted by the cheese manufacturer at Thursday’s public hearing.

Raines, who was not approached by Great Lakes Cheese, said he anticipates the other homeowners who signed the petition to be at the meeting.

“The only landowners that were contacted were the ones that have land that interests the company,” he said. “If I was offered up to four times the assessed value, we might not be having this conversation.”

Raines and Watkins also said they believe that Great Lakes Cheese would be asking for a truck deceleration lane just a few hundred feet south of their home along Route 19, on the right-of-way owned by the NYS Department of Transportation.

That is all “rumor and conjecture” at this point as there has been no word from DOT, Farnholz said.

As far as Great Lakes Cheese coming to Le Roy, Farnholz said the company is “still considering the logistics” of such a move.

“The problem with all of this is that it’s out of the municipality's hands,” he said. “The big things go to the DOT and the DEC (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation), and then electric and gas. The DOT and the DEC are the two big players … and there are a lot of steps before any industry moves in anywhere.”

Previously: County planners take no action as Route 19 resident objects to Town of Le Roy's rezoning proposal

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Photo at top: Eric Raines of 8564 Lake Street Road (Route 19), Le Roy, on his property to the west of his home. Photos at bottom: Field behind the Raines' property; view from the front of Raines' home, looking south. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

June 9, 2021 - 8:23pm

plug.jpg

The Genesee County Planning Department is recommending approval of a site plan review submitted by Plug Power Inc., the Latham-based company specializing in the development of hydrogen fuel cells systems for applications such as heavy-duty freight and forklifts.

The referral is one of 15 on the agenda of the county planning board’s meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday via Zoom videoconferencing.

According to information provided to the planning department, the site plan to place the green hydrogen facility at the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park includes three structures – an 8,000-square-foot operations and maintenance building, a 40,000-square-foot electrolyzer building and a 68,000-square-foot compressor building.

STAMP, located on Crosby Road in the Town of Alabama, is designated as a Technology (T-1) District.

Additional documentation indicates the Genesee County Economic Development Center, which owns STAMP, is in the final stages of closing the sale of 29.884 acres to be allocated to the Plug Power venture, which is being called Gateway Project.

The full environmental assessment form filled out by Plug Power reveals that construction will take place in two phases, with phase one to commence in March 2022 and phase 2 to be completed in June 2023.

It is projected that the company will use 280,000 gallons of water per day, with expected additional capacity from the construction of two new water lines. Company officials state that 70,500 gallons of wastewater will be generated each day. The grounds also will feature a stormwater management facility.

Approximately 16 tanker trucks will come to the facility each day on a reconstructed Crosby Road to provide a new access path. Construction is expected to take place from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Once complete, it will be a 24-hour operation.

Last Thursday, Genesee County Economic Development Center directors approved approximately $2.8 million in sales tax incentives related to the construction of the electrical substation.

The GCEDC reported that Plug Power is investing $232 million the company to build the facility, which is estimated to create 68 full-time jobs.

The company also is investing $55 million toward the construction a substation that will enable 100-percent renewable, reliable electricity at less than $0.035/kwh to future tenants in partnership with the New York Power Authority and National Grid.

Other referrals of note:

  • Special use permit, area variance and site plan review for a Quicklee’s convenience store and four-pump fuel station island at the former Bob Evans Restaurant location in a Commercial (C-2) District at 204 Oak St. (Route 98) in the City of Batavia.

The area variance is necessary because the service station is 165 feet from a church (less than the minimum 500 feet) and the proposed number of parking spaces is 40 (less than the minimum 68).

Patricia Bittar, director of land development projects at WM Schutt Associates, filed the application, stating that the proposed project will take up 2,771 square feet for the convenience store and 1,000 square feet for a drive-thru restaurant.

The planning department recommends approval. The applicant also will have to go in front of the City Planning & Development Committee and Zoning Board of Appeals.

  • Site plan review for a 107,138-square-foot addition for warehousing and manufacturing to Liberty Pumps, 7000 Apple Tree Ave., Bergen

The planning department recommends approval with modifications pertaining to stormwater prevention and archaeological impact documentation.

  • As previously reported on The Batavian, a zoning map change request from the Le Roy Town Board to rezone seven parcels from Residential (R-2) to Light Industrial (I-2) District to expand the GCEDC-owned Le Roy Food & Tech Park on Route 19 ad Randall Road in the Town of Le Roy.

This action could open the door for Great Lakes Cheese of Hiram, Ohio, to build a $500 million processing plant at the site.

The planning department recommends approval since the Comprehensive Plan adopted by the Town of Le Roy in 2017 identifies this area in its Future Land Use Plan as Agriculture and adjacent to Industrial.

  • Zoning text amendments from the Oakfield Town Board for the entire Town of Oakfield to allow major solar collection systems to the Land Conservation (LC) and Agricultural-Residential (AR) Districts and to add public and private utilities to the LC District.

The towns of Oakfield and Elba are gearing up for the proposed construction of a 500-megawatt solar farm by Hecate Energy, which today announced that is has filed an application with the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting.

If approved and constructed, the Cider Solar Farm would be the largest solar project ever built in New York State.

Hecate Energy’s press release indicated that the $500 million private infrastructure investment is expected to create moe than 500 construction jobs and will be capable of supplying 920,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity per year – enough to power more than 120,000 average New York households.

The planning department is recommending approval.

  • A special use permit for Chad Downs, 1300 McVean Road, Darien, to place a pest control business in his home, which sits in a Low Density Residential (LDR) District.

The planning department recommends approval with the modification that the storage and disposal of herbicides, pesticides and other hazardous materials must be conducted in accordance with applicable State and Federal regulations.

Architect's rendering at top: 3D view of the Plug Power facility to go at WNY STAMP. The rectangle building at the front is the compressor building and the long building behind it is the electrolyzer building. The operations and maintenance building is the smaller structure at right.

June 8, 2021 - 1:29pm

The reality that “once you’re in, you can never leave” has Le Roy Town and Village board members taking a cautious approach to any potential participation in the state’s new Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act.

Officials from both governing bodies gathered with about a dozen residents at the Town Hall courtroom Monday night for what turned out to be a 30-minute discussion on the recently passed legislation that immediately permits the recreational use of marijuana for residents 21 years of age and older.

The MRTA also opens the door for retail dispensaries and onsite consumption spaces, which likely are a couple years away from implementation.

“Part of this that concerns me is that if you’re in, you’re in forever and you can’t opt out,” Le Roy Town Supervisor James Farnholz said. “But if you’re out, you can jump in if it’s working (elsewhere).”

The “opt in” and “opt out” terminology applies to cities, towns and villages who may or may not want to have pot stores or lounges within their borders. Opting in means that the municipality would be eligible for the tax revenue imposed by the state on marijuana sales; opting out could lead to a public referendum, which could overturn that decision.

In any event, the deadline to decide is Dec. 31 of this year. But with the state still trying to figure out all the rules and regulations attached to the law, many local governmental leaders seem to be in no hurry.

Le Roy Village Mayor Greg Rogers said he is part of that group.

“We’re going to take as much time as we can – right to the end of December – because we believe the landscape will change eight or nine times until then,” he said.

As previously reported on The Batavian, the state is establishing the Office of Cannabis Management & Marijuana Control Board, which will have an executive director and will be housed inside the New York State Liquor Authority.

The office will implement regulations for production, licensing, retail, packaging, labeling and use, with the first sales not expected until 2022 or early 2023.

Currently, 18 states plus the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam have legalized cannabis for adult use. Another 13 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have decriminalized its use.

Farnholz said he doesn’t support a local law that would supersede the fact that marijuana is considered a Class One drug at the federal level.

“If you opt out, then down the road you can take some more time and see how it plays out in other communities. You then would have the opportunity to opt in or, in my opinion, if the federal government were to remove it as a Class One drug and it became legalized on a federal basis – to me that changes the discussion significantly,” he said.

He said the dispensary or consumption site can not be within 500 feet of a school or 200 feet from a place of worship, and that restriction – if not changed – would mean that Main Street in the village would be out due to the number of churches along Route 5.

In any event, Farnholz said the emphasis leading to a decision should be on what the law would mean to municipalities, not the morality of legalized marijuana.

“I don’t want to go down the road if legalized marijuana is good or bad,” he said. “We all have our opinions.”

Whiting said that municipalities are limited in what they can pass to just the two areas -- dispensaries or onsite consumption spaces.

“Other than that, the municipalities’ hands are tied and restricted,” he said.

Rogers said he is convinced that “somewhere in Genesee County, someone is going to sell it” but as far as Le Roy is concerned, he said the village board is going to discuss the possibility of a public referendum “to let the people decide if that is something that they want.”

A local law is subject to a permissive referendum, Whiting said, meaning that if 10 percent of the voters who last voted in the prior gubernatorial race sign a petition, there would have to be a referendum.

Several topics came up during the discussion, including the taxation schedule, drug impairment recognition, information from the state of Colorado, increased costs of public safety and federal law enforcement’s involvement.

Tax Revenue Split

Whiting pointed out that there is a 25/75 split between Genesee County and the municipality that allows the dispensary and the onsite spaces.

Specifically, the sales tax on cannabis will be 13 percent, with 9 percent going to the state, 3 percent to the host municipality and 1 percent to the county. Additionally, a THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) excise tax will be imposed.

David Damico, a resident and school teacher, said he’s all for the tax revenue but is concerned because he’s around teenagers all the time.

“I do think that whatever we decide to do tonight, that those who want it will get it,” he said. “We’re almost within walking distance of multiple villages that might opt in, including the big one down the road (Batavia), which is much bigger than us. So, I’m not really sure that keeping it off the books here is going to deter anybody.”

Farnholz replied, “I’m not sure we’ve deterred anybody since 1975,” adding that he spent 30 years as an educator and shares Damico's concerns.

Rogers said that “as far as the taxation and revenue goes, I don’t think our boards should make a decision based on thinking they’re going to get a boatload of tax revenue … This is a bigger issue than that for the social aspect.”

Recognizing Those Impaired by Pot

Farnholz said that local judges he has spoken to have a “grave concern” over it because of the lack of standards in testing for impairment.

Whiting said courses are available for law enforcement personnel to learn to recognize and detect marijuana impairment but they’re very time consuming.

Town Councilperson John Armitage mentioned that it takes a full year to train a police officer to become a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert).

“Paying this officer overtime, bringing in extra manpower – it is astronomical – and we’re not talking one or two deputies … you would have to have multiple deputies trained in DRE,” he said. “And the amount of tax you think you’re going to get, you’re not going to get (due to increased expense incurred for public safety and related services).”

Stein on Colorado: Unintended Consequences

Rochelle Stein, Genesee County Legislature chair, advised the boards that the county has no authority in this legislation before providing information from Colorado, which is one of the states that have legalized cannabis.

“The cost to public safety in that state has risen due to the sale of marijuana and the cost of public safety will be borne by the taxpayers when those costs go up (here),” she said. “The mental health, the physical health – those costs have also risen in Colorado. Incidentally, they will also tell you that the black market of cannabis has benefited greatly in Colorado.

“If there are some lessons to be learned, I would suggest that we look at Colorado and to see their experiences there. I would absolutely welcome the opportunity to opt out, preserve whatever you can for the future. If I were in your shoes, that’s what would do.”

Armitage agreed with Stein, adding that before any decision is made, board members need to look at these other states.

“I will tell you that Colorado’s accident rate is up over 400 percent since legalization, and that costs have increased more than the revenue that has been taken in,” he said.

Public Safety Costs a Major Concern

Armitage compared the MRTA to the influx of casinos, which in many cases have led to increase crime and public safety budgets.

“This is one of the worst ideas I have seen the state come up with yet, especially when other states have done it and you can see their numbers – it just does not work,” he said.

Stein also brought up that the dogs used as K-9 officers and their handlers would have to be retrained, which is another expense.

Resident Nikki Calhoun said that putting on two or three more village police officers “would be a significant cost to the village and eventually that will have to be passed on (to the taxpayers).”

“And, of course, the village can’t respond to other towns and Genesee County has limited resources for the sheriff’s on this side of the county, so I think you’ll have more problems,” she said.

Feds’ Involvement in Question

Whiting said states will be on their own when it comes to enforcement.

“My guess is that enforcement of marijuana consumption by the federal government will be very few and far between,” he said. “I’m sure they’re going to interdict large quantities coming into this country, but my hunch is that U.S. attorneys’ offices are not looking to prosecute anyone for personal consumption of marijuana.”

Resident Jay Beaumont opined that ultimately the federal government will leave it up to the states, calling it “ludicrous” that the feds classify marijuana as a Class One drug.

He also said he sees many changes from New York State before the end-of-the-year deadline to opt in or opt out.

Will Communities be Lining Up to Opt In?

The point was brought up that other communities will opt in and benefit from the tax revenue.

Farnholz had a different take on the issue.

“Looking at other states, the fantasy from the governor’s office that this is a major economic boon to the municipalities is just that – a fantasy,” he said. “You’re not going to get the financial boon that you think you are from a (cash only) dispensary. Because quite frankly, people will grow their own or the black market flourishes incredibly to avoid paying the 25-, 35-or 40-percent tax.”

Beaumont asked if it could be put to a vote to see what the residents’ feeling toward it is.

“We could do it one of two ways,” Farnholz replied. “Someone could come forward with a permissive referendum, which would be binding, or we could … have a (nonbinding) vote to gauge the feeling of the community (as the town did with the ambulance a couple years ago).”

Whiting said he expects more details to be released on a regular basis, which “will give us a lot of these answers.”

March 24, 2020 - 5:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Le Roy, Le Roy Town Board.

The Le Roy Town Board meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 26th has been cancelled.

Jim Farnholz
Le Roy Town Supervisor
August 10, 2016 - 9:43am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Le Roy Town Board, Genesee County Planning Board.

A 66-page updated Comprehensive Plan for the Town of Le Roy has been completed and is available for public review.

That's the word from Le Roy Town Supervisor Stephen Barbeau, who said he is hoping the Town Board -- at its meeting on Thursday night -- sets a Sept. 8 date for a public hearing on the document.

The Comprehensive Plan provides a framework for future public and private investment into a municipality.

Le Roy's strategy focuses on land use in the context of seven policy areas -- taking into consideration the community's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and obstacles to its quality of life. Those policy areas are residential living, local commerce, agriculture, community resources, leisure and culture, natural resources and regional cooperation.

"We're comfortable putting this out to the public," said Barbeau, noting that the plan, which hadn't been revised since 2001, has been posted on the Town's website -- www.leroyny.org. "We've put a lot of work into this."

The plan was developed by members of the Le Roy Town Board, Le Roy Town Planning Board, Town of Le Roy staff, Genesee County Planning Department and County Legislator Rochelle Stein, with technical assistance from the firm of Clark Patterson Lee.

Barbeau also reported that he plans to present the Town's tentative 2017 budget at the Sept. 8 meeting.

"I am requesting information from the department heads," he said.

Barbeau mentioned that the Town will need to override the tax cap levy for 2017 due to the creation of a new southwest water district.

"We'll have to override it even though it (the water district) will be paid for by district residents," he said. "The cap is less than 1 percent this year."

He said that a recent audit of the Town's books showed "no significant issues" and that the Town is in "good shape financially." The Town has four major accounts -- Town and Village, Town outside of the Village, and two Highway Department funds (one for winter expenses and the other for summer expenses).

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