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Le Roy Town Board

June 9, 2021 - 8:23pm

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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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