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Main Street Pizza

City planners give the go-ahead for Main Street Pizza building revitalization project

By Mike Pettinella

The City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee on Tuesday night approved a special use permit that opens the door for the creation of two apartments on the second floor of the Main Street Pizza building at 206 E. Main St.

Applicant Paul Marchese, doing business as Just Chez Realty LLC, said the $489,000 project – which qualified for a Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant of $137,600 from the Batavia Development Corporation’s building improvement fund – advances to the next stage, which is “to finalize the engineering drawings and move the project into the construction phase.”

Marchese said planning committee members asked whether he is looking to renovate the other half of the upstairs as well.

“The plans for the other half of the upstairs have not been solidified as of yet,” he said. “At this point, we have acquired funding and grant sources and various things to complete phase one of our project. Phase two could be apartments or it could be something totally different depending on if we have a tenant that wants a specific build-out for up there.”

Concerning apartment rental rates, Marchese said that since the project was awarded one of the grants, it is bound by a predetermined rent schedule.

As previously reported on The Batavian, Marchese’s application calls for placing two apartments on the second floor and altering the building’s exterior by adding an entrance door on the south side, replacing windows, changing the nameplate on the north (front) of the building from MANCUSO to MARCHESE, and installing “up lighting” on that side.

Additional improvements include removing existing awnings and exposing the original transom windows, installing a new aluminum-clad wooden door on the north side and installing new aluminum-clad wood windows/door storefront in the center bay.

Planning board asks Byron officials to revise property value, prime farmland sections of local law on solar

By Mike Pettinella

The Genesee County Planning Board is asking the Byron Town Board to consider revisions to a couple sections of its proposed local law on solar energy systems.

Planners on Thursday night approved the referral from the town for zoning text amendments governing the placement of solar projects, but not before Planning Director Felipe Oltramari pointed out issues with wording in sections pertaining to property values and prime farmland.

On the clause addressing the impact of large-scale solar projects upon property values, Oltramari said it lacked clarity and detail, noting that it was just one sentence. The section in question currently states:

Property Value and Taxpayer Protection: Tier 3 and Tier 4 Solar Energy Systems, once constructed and operational, shall not reduce the property value of adjacent parcels where a parcel owner is not in privity of contract with the applicant or its successors, agents or assigns.

Oltramari said that description “needs to be fleshed out some more” and said that without an appraisal before and after the project siting, it would be difficult to prove how much, if any, the value of the property had changed.

He said he realizes that the town consulted with attorneys to draft the plan and didn’t want to overstep their expertise, but he said he “had concerns about the clarity and the practicality of having something like that that can’t really be enforced.”

On the use of prime farmland, Oltramari said he understands the reasoning behind limiting projects to no more than 10 percent of prime farmland – as is the case of the 280-megawatt Excelsior Solar Project under Article 10 of New York State law – but he believes the proposed local law doesn’t go far enough in its description of prime farmland.

He said a local resident mentioned a soil survey that determines how much prime farmland is in the town, specifically noting a category called “prime if drained.”

“That means that if the landowner puts in what they call tiling – drainage to make the soil drain better, then the land becomes prime farm if those improvements are made to the fields,” he said. “But whether or not the field is tiled, only the property owner knows and maybe a few others. You would have to know how much of that farmland is actually drained. If you don’t know that, you don’t know the full percentage of prime farmland in the town.”

Oltramari said he expects the Byron Town Planning Board to review the proposal and issue recommendations to the town board, and hopefully will take a look at those two sections.

County planners briefly discussed NextEra Energy Resources’ 1,700-acre Excelsior project that is in the hands of the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment.

While Oltramari said large solar arrays such as this “are supposed to adhere to local regulations,” Article 10 – and now the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act -- supersedes local planning board authority.

In other action, planners:

  • Approved a special use permit and downtown design review for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project to renovate the Main Street Pizza building at 206 E. Main St.

As first reported on The Batavian, applicant Paul Marchese, doing business as Just Chez Realty LLC, submitted plans to create two apartments on the second floor and change the exterior of the building at 206 E. Main St.

The only stipulation in the planners’ approval was that the project meets Enhanced 9-1-1* standards.

Marchese’s request now will go before the City Planning & Development Committee, likely at its Oct. 20 meeting.

  • Approved a zoning map change request from R-1 (residential) to C-2 (commercial) by James Barsaloux to offer local craft beer, food and live music, at his farm market operation at 8041 E. Main Road, Le Roy.

Oltramari said the Town of Le Roy’s comprehensive plan indicates acceptance of a mix of residential and commercial operations in its future land use.

Planners said they were concerned about traffic and noise, and hoped that the town would conduct a proper review of the site plan and special use permit to mitigate any potential problems.

Barsaloux said that he intends to have live music only a couple nights per month and no later than 9 p.m., adding that he wants to keep “a family atmosphere … not another bar.”

  • Approved a special use permit request from John Kula of Freedom Fellowship LLC, for a 3,200-square-foot three-bay auto repair garage and print shop at 254 Broadway Road (Route 20).

The project came before planners in August, when they granted an area variance for the public garage, which will be set up as a vocational training site for people in recovery from substance use disorders.

*Enhanced 911, E-911 or E911 is a system used in North America to automatically provide the caller's location to 9-1-1 dispatchers. 911 is the universal emergency telephone number in the region.

Previously: County planning agenda includes special use permit referral for Main Street Pizza building.

County planning agenda includes special use permit referral for Main Street Pizza building

By Mike Pettinella



The Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday will consider a referral from Paul Marchese, doing business as Just Chez Realty LLC, for a special use permit and downtown design review for improvements to the Main Street Pizza building at 206 E. Main St.

Documents submitted to the planning board reveal that the applicant wishes to create two apartments on the second floor and change the exterior of the building that is located in the Downtown Business Improvement District.

A letter dated Sept. 29 from Doug Randall, City of Batavia code enforcement officer, to county planners and the City Planning & Development Committee indicates exterior changes involve: adding an entrance door on the south side; replacing windows; and changing the nameplate on the north (front) of the building from MANCUSO to MARCHESE and installing “up lighting” on that side.

Additional enhancements include: removing existing awnings and exposing the original transom windows; installing a new aluminum-clad wooden door on the north side; and installing new aluminum-clad wood windows/door storefront in the center bay.

The special use permit is for “restricted residential use” to allow the two second-story apartments in an area currently used as office space.

Following a recommendation by county planners, the referral will go before the City Planning & Development Committee, likely at its Oct. 20 meeting.

The $489,000 project has been awarded $137,600 from the Batavia Development Corporation’s building improvement fund through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

BDC Executive Director Andrew Maguire said the project will be completed in two phases, with the second phase featuring the creation of three additional residential units upstairs.

Other referrals of note on this week’s Genesee County Planning Board agenda:

  • Review of zoning text amendments from the Town of Byron for a local law governing solar energy systems as they relate to the town’s comprehensive plans.

Planning Director Felipe Oltramari said smaller solar projects such as those on building rooftops, on private property and that connect to the electric grid technically are not allowed unless a local law such as this is in place.

Large-scale solar energy systems, including those under Article 10 in New York State, are not bound by local solar energy laws, but generally attempt to follow those guidelines, Oltramari said.

Currently, the Town of Byron is engaged in negotiations with NextEra Energy Resources on the Excelsior Solar Project, a 280-megawatt, 1,700-acre venture being developed under Article 10 with oversight by the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (Siting Board).

  • A zoning map change request by James Barsaloux in order for him to add local craft beer, food and live entertainment, specifically music, to his farm market operation at 8041 E. Main Road, Le Roy.

He is seeking a change in zoning from R-1 (residential) to C-2 (commercial), noting that the farm market business is a “grandfathered use in its current R-1 zone.”

Oltramari said that while the business is in an R-1 zone, it is surrounded by commercial ventures along East Main Road. A large parcel in an industrial zone is located across the road from the farm market.

  • A special use permit request from John Kula of Freedom Fellowship LLC, for a 3,200-square-foot three-bay auto repair garage and print shop at 254 Broadway Road (Route 20). This comes on the heels of the granting of an area variance for the project in August.

The public garage will be used for vocational training to support a ministry for those in recovery from substance use disorders, with work limited to light repair, tires, brakes and routine service.

Batavian Zach Watts sets sights on 'cutting-edge' Main Street barber shop

By Mike Pettinella

With a vision of owning a business that becomes “a staple of the community,” Batavian Zach Watts is in the process of converting a vacant Downtown store into the My Cut barber shop.

“This is a dream of mine,” said Watts, 36, who has spent the past two decades interacting with area residents as a restaurant server/manager, including the last 15 years as Victor Marchese’s “right hand man” at Main Street Pizza. “Now that I have the chance, I want to put my best foot forward into this, and give it everything I got.”

Watts said that he and a minority owner will be leasing nearly 900 square feet of space at the site of the former Pollyanna & Dot/Hidden Door at 202 Main St. The building is owned by David Howe, co-owner of the neighboring Charles Men’s Shop.

Howe said he sees the barber shop as a great fit.

“We’re (he and business partner Don Brown) are really excited about it,” Howe said. “I think it’s a perfect mix for Downtown, not that we don’t have good barbers in town, because we do, but I think the location and Main Street work very well. For us, it’s a nice addition to the building – being near our business, and also down the street from our other business, Batavia Bootery.”

Watts said he is looking for experienced barbers and hairstylists to rent a chair and get the business off the ground while he completes the training required to earn his license. The custom workstation being built by craftsman Conrado Caballero, of Le Roy, will accommodate four professionals.

“The opportunity to get this space was the determining factor of whether I was going to do this or not,” Watts said. “This location is prime. I’m kind of putting the cart before the horse here, and jumping into it without having the necessary education to be, quote, unquote, licensed. I still need to receive that certification.”

In the meantime, his goal is to attract men or women barbers/stylists who are “willing to learn and willing to teach, too.”

“We’re seeking people who want an opportunity to be part of something that hopefully will last forever. But for me, I’m looking for someone to come in – for the first six months – and make a name for themselves. Take walk-ins, take a lot of calls, and be put in a position where they can have the whole shop to themselves without the liability of owning the shop.”

Watts said he will continue to work at Main Street Pizza while going to school, which will cover about four and a half months.

“I realize it will be a balancing act – having a job and taking care of my kids – but it will be worth it,” he said. “I know it is a tough time to be starting a business – it’s a tough time to be alive, really, with all the uncertainty – but one thing I’ve learned is the only thing you can control is your effort … and hopefully you reap the benefits from it.”

Watts has two children, Jaslynne, 13, and Carson, 8, and a significant other, Haley Brown, of Elba.

Based on his employment history, putting forth the effort won’t be a problem for Watts.

“Things have been up and down but I’ve always worked, starting in the restaurant business when I was 14 (at Sunny’s Restaurant),” he said. “I was just blessed with an opportunity for somebody to give me work, and I’ve stayed in the restaurant business for a while – working at Alex’s Place for a few years before getting a huge break to get into Main Street Pizza on the ground level when Vic opened up.”

He gives much credit to Marchese for “putting me in this position” and his mother, Annie Watts, a longtime and well-known restaurant server, for his work ethic.

“Victor has done everything for me to get me into a position to succeed. He’s shown me what it is like to open a business, and to have it be sustainable and be successful,” Watts offered. “I’ve had the privilege of watching him for a long time and have seen him make some great decisions. He’s my mentor; he’s my guy.”

He said his mother is “one of the hardest working people I know and she taught us (he and brother, Nick Gaudy, who also works at Main Street Pizza) what it means to work,” he said. “Without that, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Watts said he wants his shop to establish its own personality -- a place that is inviting with a menu of offerings such as contemporary cuts for men and boys (and shorter cuts for women), as well as straight shaves and hot shaves. He is hoping to open around Sept. 1.

“This is Christmastime coming up, plus school cuts, and a lot of people, teachers, are starting work now, and they all want to look good,” he said. “And if you look good, you feel good. I want the community to take advantage of a different style that has become more popular with younger people, something that is missing in this town.”

Watts said he is hoping to find barbers/stylists who are “very technical with their styling.”

“A lot of the trends with the younger generation are about designs in their hair; they want their hair styled in a certain way,” he said. “We’re trying to develop a barber shop that becomes a staple in this community, and given its location and the incredible businesses surrounding it that have been here, we feel we have an excellent chance to succeed.”

He also thanked Howe for being “incredibly supportive … and giving me a couple months to get my feet on the ground and run with something.”

Howe said he believes in Watts’ business model and looks forward to working with him.

“I think he has a good game plan, and there are so many things that we can do together,” Howe said. “We do a lot of wedding parties, and just that mix, I think, can be really good. People get spruced up in their tuxedos and suits and suit rentals and that type of thing, and good grooming goes right along with that.”

Photo by Mike Pettinella.


For more information about My Cut, contact Watts at (585) 201-1335.

Much 'love' for Vic, but not for his plan to put a tent in the lot between Main Street Pizza and Batavia Bootery

By Mike Pettinella

The Batavia City Council is asking the owner of a popular downtown restaurant to go back to the drawing board after deciding not to support his plan to place a tent for outdoor dining in a parking lot next to his building.

Council, at its Conference Meeting tonight at the City Hall Council Board Room, determined that the obstacles identified by City management to the proposal by Vic Marchese of Main Street Pizza Company were valid reasons to reject his “COVID-19 2020 Temporary Outdoor Dining on City Property Program” application.

However, Council members and management said they are willing to work with Marchese on an alternative, possibly exploring the placement of tables behind his building or on the sidewalk in front of his building at 206 Main St.

“I understand that the restaurant business is an extremely competitive business and Vic does not have a lot of area to expand on,” Council Member John Canale said. “He’s at a major disadvantage … outdoor dining is almost imperative. We need to find an option for Vic Marchese to be able to compete with other restaurants who are basically eating his lunch right now.”

Marchese’s proposal was to put up a 15-foot by 75-foot tent, with lighting, in the parking lot on the east side of the restaurant – utilizing seven to eight parking spaces. He then would set up eight to 10 tables, accommodating up to 60 guests, under the tent.

Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski, referring to her July 7 memo to City Council, read the reasons she and departmental leaders felt the plan would not be feasible.

She cited state building code’s prohibiting tents in a parking space, the fact that the City does not own the entire lot, the removal of prime parking spaces (including handicap spaces) and traffic issues in an already congested parking lot between Main Street Pizza and the building owned by City Church.

The Rev. Martin Macdonald, pastor of City Church, expressed his view of the situation during the public comments portion of the meeting.

“I love Main Street Pizza and I love Vic, but I’m concerned with having an outdoor tent (that would) make traffic more hazardous,” he said. “Batavia Bootery would not have enough parking spaces for their business and I’m very concerned about the square footage being taken away.”

Macdonald also mentioned that it’s already dangerous since cars parked in front of Main Street Pizza block the view of traffic coming from the west.

Canale said he understood the legalities involved, but said “as a council person, I need to protect businesses as well.”

Council Member Paul Viele was the only one to speak in favor of Marchese’s idea.

“Just put the tables up there, let the guy do it and get over it,” Viele said.

Following the meeting, Viele expounded on his thoughts.

“It’s a temporary thing here. Let the guy make some money like every other restaurant’s doing downtown and when the COVID is over, then you’re all set,” he said, adding that motorists would adjust to the tent being there.

“People would have adapted. It’s only a three-month or four-month (situation), however long it takes, and let people enjoy Main Street Pizza,” he said. “I understand Marty’s concern and I understand the Bootery’s concern, but if you look at it, Vic’s going to be taking parking spots from his own place because it’s on the side of his building. And people would adjust to it. It’s a no-brainer, in my opinion.”

Viele called it “unfortunate” that nobody else saw “Vic’s vision” but was pleased that Council is willing to work with Marchese on possible alternatives.

Marchese did not speak during the meeting, but communicated his plight with reporters as he was walking out.

“People aren’t coming in. People don’t like to eat indoors right now; they advise against it. What are you going to do? It’s all over television. Eat outdoors,” Marchese said. “I’ll give you an example. Three Saturdays ago, I left there (his business) at 8 o’clock at night and had one table. I went by Roman’s and I went by Batavia’s Original – packed in the patio, packed.”

Marchese said he’s taken “a big hit” – losing a considerable amount of the business that had elevated him to a lofty place in the pizzeria industry.

“I was named the one of the top independent pizzerias in the United States last year – number 68 in the country,” he said. “I do a big volume and every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, there’s 20, 30 people at the door, and it’s not there right now. Which is understandable. My wife doesn’t want to go out and eat in a restaurant. I need outdoor dining.”

He said he wasn’t in favor of putting tables behind the building (where the exhaust fan is located), but might be open to placing tables on the sidewalk in front.

“But the thing is they want you to keep the tables as close to the building as possible,” he said. “If I can put a table close to the building and right towards the curb, that could work. I could possibly fit eight tables, 10 tables out there, but they don’t want them close to the curb.”

During the early stages of the discussion about outdoor dining, there was some confusion over the “parklets” concept that was featured in a story on The Batavian following a recent Batavia Development Corporation meeting.

Council Member Robert Bialkowski said he was taken by surprise by the City’s approval of having parklets (enclosed outdoor dining areas) in the parking spaces along Main Street. It was then explained by Tabelski and BDC Executive Director Andrew Maguire that the parklets story was a separate issue – something discussed as a possibility in the future.

Bialkowski also questioned the process of developing the temporary outdoor dining permit and balked at the $250 fee attached to it.

Tabelski said she received feedback from Business Improvement District members who believed it would be unfair not to collect a fee and also cited costs involved with the program, including attorney’s fees for drafting the legal documentation.

Council President Eugene Jankowski encouraged Marchese to get together with Tabelski and City staff to explore options.

“It’s not our place to redesign the plan here … but we can’t approve the plan as it is now,” he said.

City Attorney George Van Nest mentioned that the State Liquor Authority carries a lot of weight when it comes to arrangements such as this one and puts an emphasis on safety, even to the point of requiring material barricades to prevent traffic accidents.

Council Member Rose Mary Christian disapproved as well, mentioning that the tent would take away some of the handicapped parking spots.

The debate ended with Jankowski stating he would call a special meeting to approve an acceptable plan, telling Marchese that “we’re not going to give up on you, Vic.”

Meanwhile, Council – during the Business Meeting afterward -- did approve an application by Eli Fish Brewing Company at 109 Main St. for a temporary outdoor dining license agreement.

Eli Fish’s application indicated that 12 tables, serving up to 52 guests, will be placed in Jackson Square, with hours of operation set at 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.


In another development, City Council spoke favorably of the Deer Management Plan Committee's recommendations to cull the deer population in the City, forwarding the draft to its Aug. 10 meeting for an official vote. Watch for more details on Tuesday on The Batavian.

Archery-only deer culling plan is on City Council's agenda Monday; board to revisit new police station

By Mike Pettinella

Watch out, Bambi. The City of Batavia is coming for you.

A three-phased plan intended to harvest up to 60 deer per year with archery-only hunting is expected to be presented to City Council at its Conference Meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the City Hall Council Board Room.

According to memo dated July 6 from Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski to Council members, the City’s Deer Management Plan Committee, formed in November, has completed its task in the form of a 21-page plan to reduce the deer population within the City limits. The committee was created in response to numerous incidents of property (landscaping/garden) damage, auto accidents and other problems caused by deer.

Working with Robin Phenes, state Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife biologist, and Council Member John Canale, the five-member committee, per the memo, has drafted a proposal that “provides a streamlined program experience and ensures programmatic compliance, program metric tracking and stakeholder/City Council communication.”

In simpler terms, the plan specifies the time frame, five designated hunting zones, and rules and regulations, and includes permit applications, landowner cooperation agreement, hunter applications, waivers and release forms and a proficiency test.

Tabelski spelled out several highlights of the plan:

-- Plan A, hunting during the New York State regulated hunting season; Plan B, an extended hunting season (Jan. 2-March 31); Plan C, archery hunt utilizing bait (subject to Council approval). Times for hunting will be from sunrise to 2 p.m., with no hunting when schools are closed.

-- Five designated hunting zones as identified on an included map, as follows: (1) parcel north of Clinton Street, (2) land in the Naramore Drive area and north, (3) property west of State Street (in vicinity of BOCES) and proceeding north from Lambert Park, (4) Route 98, south of Walnut Street area, and (5) Law Street area stretching almost to Kibbe Park.

-- Hunting will be permitted only after the landowner signs a cooperation agreement form.

-- Tree stands must be used and all hunters must shoot downward. Hunters must be properly qualified and licensed and apply to the City of Batavia to be admitted into the program.

-- The plan is subject to NYS DEC setback requirements pertaining to the proximity of bow hunting to schools, playgrounds, public buildings, etc.

-- The program will run for three years and can be terminated at City Council’s discretion.

Citizen members of the committee are Russell Nephew, Gus Galliford, Fred Gundell, Kent Klotzbach and Samuel DiSalvo.

Council will be asked to vote on forwarding the resolution to a future Business Meeting.

Other topics on Monday’s Conference Meeting agenda:

-- A draft resolution to grant approval to Eli Fish Brewing Co. at 109 Main St. for a temporary outdoor dining license agreement as part of the City’s COVID-19 2020 Temporary Outdoor Dining on City Property Program.

Eli Fish’s application specified that 12 tables, serving up to 52 guests, will be placed in Jackson Square, with hours of operation set at 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

A memo from Tabelski dated July 7 indicated that while the Eli Fish application qualified for consideration, an application from Main Street Pizza at 206 Main St. did not and is not recommended for approval.

Vic Marchese, owner of Main Street Pizza, had proposed to put up a 15-foot by 75-foot tent, with lighting, in the parking lot on the east side of the restaurant – utilizing seven to eight parking spaces. Eight to 10 tables, accommodating up to 60 guests, were to be placed under the tent.

Tabelski spelled out several reasons why the plan would not be feasible:

-- Per the state Building Code, a tent can not be put up within 20 feet of lot lines, a parking space, buildings, etc.;
-- The City does not own the entire parking lot;
-- The application removes several prime parking spaces, including handicap spaces;
-- The one-way street would require a traffic order and, for a temporary dining basis, the City would not be able to facilitate a Local Law change in a timely fashion;
-- A traffic safety issue would occur due to cars coming into the lot off Main Street and backing out of parking spots.

Tabelski wrote that she advised the applicant of the potential problems, but he “was not interested in modifying the application.”

A draft resolution for the Main Street Pizza request is not included in the meeting document packet.

-- A pair of draft resolutions concerning a feasibility study for the construction of a new police station at the Alva Place location and corresponding contract with an architectural firm to conduct the study.

The first resolution asks City Council to transfer $50,000 of the $242,820 in the Facility Reserve fund to an expense account.

The second resolution seeks execution of a contract for $41,200 with Architecture Unlimited LLC, of Williamsville, to provide the recommended square footage, design and layout, ability to expand, regulatory requirements and projected costs for design and construction for both the site work and the actual facility.

-- City Council will conduct a Business Meeting after the Conference Meeting. Agenda items for that session include a resolution to enter into a $328,200 contract with Keeler Construction for the Franklin Street-Richmond Avenue sewer rehabilitation project.

The cost is significantly less than the original estimate of $806,000 because the City altered its plan from a complete sewer line replacement on Franklin Street to an excavated repair of one section and relining of the rest of the line, and then to include relining of the Richmond Avenue sewer ahead of its rehabilitation project in 2022.

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