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planning and land use

Town planners give go ahead to travel center and apartments proposed for Pembroke

By Howard B. Owens
michael metzger genesee county planning board 2023
Engineer Michael Metzer presents plans for a 144-unit apartment complex on Alleghany Road in Pembroke to the Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday night.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Business growth in Pembroke is keeping Clarence-based engineer Michael Metzger busy.

He had two projects on the County Planning Board agenda on Thursday night -- a new travel center at the Thruway interchange and a 144-unit apartment complex proposed for Alleghany Road.

Earlier this year, Metzger was the engineer who helped present plans for a $142 million distribution center that is currently under construction next to the Thruway.

"Some of it is, quite frankly, driven by STAMP," Metzger told The Batavian after the planning board meeting.  "The apartment project that was presented tonight, by all means. Between the STAMP facility, what's been going on there, what's anticipated to be happening there, and the construction going on now at the interchange that will result in hundreds of new people working in that area, that's what Mr. (Mike) Schmidt (the apartment complex developer) is hoping for and planning for with (the apartment) project."

STAMP is the WNY Science, Technology & Advanced Manufacturing Park under construction in the Town of Alabama. The site is a 1,250-acre industrial park. Plug Power is building a $290 million hydrogen production facility on 50 acres of the park. Last fall, Edwards Vacuum announced plans to build a $319 million manufacturing plant on the site.

The distribution center planned for the interchange is being built by Horizon Acres Associations of Spring Valley and Geis Companies, based in Ohio.

The 144-unit apartment complex is proposed for 8900 Alleghany Road, about halfway between Cohocton Road and Route 5.  Immediately to the south of the currently wooded 8.2-acre lot is a farm field and a long-abandoned gas station.  A single-family home is on the land to the north.  The property is zoned limited commercial and agricultural-residential.

The County Planning Board recommended approval of the project pending approval of an application for a water hookup, a DEC review of any possible endangered species, and consultation with the Corfu Volunteer Fire Department on the potential need for another access point to the property.

The complex will be built in phases of 24 units each, for a total of six 24-unit buildings.  There will also be some garages available to some tenants.

The property will include stormwater retention ponds, though Metzger, after learning the Town of Pembroke requires "ponds" to be fenced, is no longer going to call them ponds in his plans since they won't always contain water. 

"They will be designed in accordance with the state stormwater regulations, which means that they have a safety bench around them, a shallow area, so that if someone should inadvertently end up in it, which is highly unlikely, but if they do, they can simply walk out," Metzger said.

As for the travel center, Metzger, after the meeting, declined to say who the tenant for the new facility will be.  The developer is, again, Geis.

The travel plaza will include diesel and gasoline fuel pumps, a convenience store with a drive-thru, and a car wash.

The lot is 46.6 acres, and the majority of the land is federally protected wetlands. The travel center will sit in the center of the property, on higher ground and not wetlands.  The developed area will be 16.6 acres.

The high ground is currently farmland.

Murder Creek runs through the property.

The property is directly across Route 77 from the TA Travel Plaza, and current plans call for the four-land driveway (two lanes in each direction) to align with TA's driveway. 

In addition to the TA Travel Plaza, Flying-J and Speedway also both have locations at the 48-A interchange.

Asked about the attraction for the developer to an interchange that already has three places for travelers to stop for fuel and supplies and a bit of rest, Metzger explained that the fact there are other travel businesses already at the interchange is exactly what makes it appealing to another travel plaza business.  The more locations at an interchange, he explained, the more likely travelers are to choose that interchange as a place for a break.

"There are times when you have one type of business at an interchange, such as a restaurant or a gas station, and it gets passed by because there isn't any interest," Metzger said. "It's a human nature thing to be attracted to other activity. So when there is an interchange that already has some activity, even if it could potentially be considered competitors, it has a tendency to attract a lot more traffic."

michael metzger genesee county planning board 2023
Engineer Michael Metzger presents plans for a new travel plaza at the Thruway interchange in Pembroke to the Genesee County Planning Board on Thrusday.
Photo by Howard Owens.

New travel plaza proposed for Thruway interchange in Pembroke

By Chris Butler

On Thursday, members of the Genesee County Planning Board will discuss whether to grant a special use permit for a new travel plaza near the Pembroke exit of the Thruway.

If approved by the Town of Pembroke, construction crews will build the travel plaza along Alleghany Road. 

Currently, the TA Travel Center, the Flying J Travel Center, and a new Speedway operate in the area.

Planning Board members are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. on Aug. 10 in the large conference room at County Building No. 2 at 3837 W. Main Street Road in Batavia.  The board's authority is whether to recommend approval or not and whether any modifications should be considered. The Town of Pembroke's planning board has the final say on the application for a special use permit.

According to a Planning Board referral, this travel plaza will sell food and fuel and have a convenience store, a car wash and offer charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs).

The new development will sit on a 49.60-acre parcel, which is currently undeveloped. The site contains several wetlands. The entrance roads must cross over Murder Creek to access the site.

In a separate project, the board is also being asked to consider a special use permit for multi-family development in the same area as the travel plaza.

The area is seeing rapid growth this year.  A new distribution center is currently under construction next to the Thruway.  A mixed-use building opened at Brickhouse Corners (Route 5 and Route 77) earlier this year.

As The Batavian reported in January, the distribution center will take up 100 acres and was pitched as a great location for a distribution center — halfway between Rochester and Buffalo.  

Town of Batavia Planning to hold public hearing on Tractor Supply Store project

By Legal Notices



NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Public Hearing will be held by the Town of Batavia Planning Board regarding an application by Hix Snedeker Companies LLC, 8727 Lewiston Rd., Batavia, NY for a major subdivision and retail building for Tractor Supply Store.  This is located on approximately a 52 acre parcel (8.-1-7) in the Town of Batavia, Genesee County, New York.   The land is zoned Commercial.

Said hearing will be held at the Batavia Town of Batavia Town Hall, 3833 West Main St. Rd.,  Batavia, NY on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. at which time all interested persons will be heard.  If you cannot attend, you may send your comments and concerns to the Chairman at  before the hearing.  A copy of the application is on file at the Town Hall for review.

By order of the Town of Batavia Planning Board
Kathleen Jasinski, Chairman.

Local farmer says NYS making it harder to grow crops, and solar is better deal for low-yield land

By Howard B. Owens


Farmers aren't converting profitable cropland into solar farms, said Tim Call, a Batavia businessman and farmer, after the Batavia Planning Board heard a proposal from New Leaf Energy to install a 5-megawatt project on 20 acres he owns at 7757 Oak Orchard Road.

There's good money to be made off of good land, according to Call, but it's become harder to turn a profit on low-yield land.

New York's new labor laws have a lot to do with turning marginal land into unprofitable land.

"Farmers are getting so good at producing on good acreage," Call said. "You don't need all the acreage that's there. The bad ground is not going to produce a lot of good things. It's just like the dairy farmers. If they have cows that are producing 40,000 pounds of milk a year, and they have one that's producing 10,000 pounds, why are you going to keep feeding those 10,000 pounds? You cull that one and get ones that are going to produce the most and give you the best return. You can't afford to farm bad farmland. It's just not profitable."

The state's increase in minimum wage and new overtime rules for farmworkers are causing farmers to re-evaluate what land they keep in production and what crops they grow, Call said. Out are low-yield acreage and crops that are labor intensive, such as cabbage, and other vegetables. Corn, wheat, and soybeans are favored because those crops don't need to be weeded or picked by hand.  The harvest can be fully mechanized. 

Last year, New York adjusted the overtime threshold for farmworkers to 40 hours per week. That's made it harder to hire workers who can migrate to other states with more worker-friendly laws, Call said.

"The overtime rule is really crippling everybody," Call said. "Plus the minimum wage that's out there. When we're trying to compete against other states where the minimum wage is $7, $8 and our minimum wage is $14.20, almost double, and then you can't get the farm or the migrants to come in and work because they can't get the hours that they want. It's just crippling. How do you compete?"

The proposed solar farm came before the board on Tuesday so the board could appoint itself lead agency for the environmental review, which it did.  The board will later be asked to vote on a proposed special use permit for the project.

This new solar installation will go on an 85.5-acre parcel that is just south of Daws Corners, which already contains a 15-acre solar farm on the back portion, along with some wetlands left undisturbed by either project. The two projects will cover 39.6 percent of the parcel, which is below the allowable 50 percent threshold.

New Leaf will plant about 153 trees to help visually screen the array.

The topsoil from the project area will be stored in a berm along the front of the property, which will make it available to redistribute on the parcel once the solar array is decommissioned.  The land could potentially, then, become farmland again.

Call noted during an interview with The Batavian that a solar installation doesn't permanently take the acreage out of agricultural use.

"The thing is, if it doesn't work out, you take the panels off, you pull it out of the ground, you pull the wire up, and you go back to farming," Call said. "You can't do that with some of these other things that they're doing. This isn't blacktop. It's not concrete, you know. You don't have a 40-by-40 pad that's 10 feet down in the ground. You can go back to farming."

Photo: Will Nieves, project developer for New Leaf Energy, and Mark Kenward, project engineer with Erdman Anthony, make a presentation for a solar project on behalf of property owner Tim Call, in the background. Photo by Howard Owens.

Genesee County receives award for comprehensive planning

By Press Release

Press release:

At the 2022 Upstate Chapter Conference of the American Planning Association (APA), the Genesee County 2050 Plan was awarded the excellence in comprehensive planning award. The award was presented by the Vice- President of the Upstate APA Chapter, Sean Maguire, to representatives of the Genesee 2050 planning team present including Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein, Planning Director Felipe Oltramari, Deputy Highway Superintendent Paul Osborn, Deputy Planning Director Erin Pence, and members of the consultant team including, Mike Kane and Jenny Mogavero of Prospect Hill Consulting, and Joy Kuebler and Eve Holberg of Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect.

Genesee 2050 offers a new perspective on comprehensive planning and includes a comprehensive plan update and recreation plan. The new plan is designed to be used as an online document and focuses less on an exhaustive inventory – which is always out of date by the time a comp plan is published anyhow – and more on what the county’s data indicators mean.

Genesee 2050 was developed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and so necessitated creative solutions to gather public input. An engagement process was designed that included safe in-person gatherings, online engagement, phone and in-person interviews and extensive public and stakeholder surveys.

Genesee 2050 is written for quick reference and ongoing implementation. There are no lists of recommendations. Instead, a smaller and more general set of recommendations focuses on preparing for the future based on what has been learned from the past in each of the 10 elements. There are a very select few overarching recommendations focusing on the process and this vision and three succinct goals.

The planning process continues in 2023 and is open to all residents, landowners, businesses, or anyone interested in Genesee County. Please visit: to get involved. You can provide written input or be put on a notification list of any meeting or events related to the planning process. You can also join any of the 10 focus groups that will help chart the future of Genesee County. These are:

  • Agriculture & Food
  • Arts, Culture, Parks & Recreation
  • Community Wellness
  • Economic & Workforce Development
  • Education & Government Administration 6. Housing Opportunities
  • Land Use, Environment & Placemaking 8. Technology & Utilities
  • Transportation & Mobility
  • Safety, Security & Justice 

LEGAL NOTICE: Town of Batavia to hold public hearing on Country Meadows expansion

By Legal Notices


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Public Hearing will be held by the Town of Batavia Planning Board regarding an application by Rochester MHP Portfolio, LLC (Jeffrey Cook) for the expansion of Country Meadows Manufactured Homes Community with the construction of 76 new mobile home lots within the existing community. The project also involves construction of internal private roads, utilities and stormwater management areas.  This is located at 5121 Clinton Street Road, Town of Batavia.  This is in an area zoned Mobile Home Park (MHP) District.

Said hearing will be held at the Town of Batavia Firehall, Station #2 on 8535 Stringham Drive, Batavia, NY on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. at which time all interested persons will be heard.  If you cannot attend, you may send your comments and concerns to the Chairman at  before the hearing.   All correspondence will be acknowledged.

By order of the Town of Batavia Planning Board

Kathleen Jasinski, Chairman.

Stringham Drive residents can weigh in on expansion of Country Meadows, though public hearing not required

By Howard B. Owens


A public hearing is not required for approval of a 76-unit expansion of the Country Meadows housing community at 5121 Clinton Street Road, Batavia, but since some residents of Stringham Drive might be concerned about it, the Town of Batavia Planning Board agreed at Tuesday's meeting to hold a hearing.

A public hearing requires notification to neighboring residents and gives them an opportunity to express concerns or ask questions.

The hearing will be at 7 p.m., July 19 at the Batavia Town Hall.

Country Meadows is operated by Rochester MHP Portfolio LLC and owner Jeffrey Cook.  It currently contains 174 manufactured homes.

Stringham Drive is immediately to the south of the 75-acre parcel.

Engineer Glenn F. Thornton presented the development plans to the board on Tuesday and said steps are being taken to address any potential concerns of Stringham Drive residents.  

He said there is an additional 50 feet of separation between the new home lots and the property lines of Stringham Drive homes.

"It's heavily vegetated over there (along the southern boundary of the development), so we're proposing to leave all of the vegetation in place to kind of screen the two properties from each other," Thornton said.

The new lots will be slightly more spacious than the existing lots, he said. The current lots are about four to an acre, he said.  The new lots will be 2.5 per acre.

Much of the reason for the larger lots are the constraints imposed by the geography and infrastructure of the area being developed.   There needs to be proper stormwater drainage and there is an existing "fairly wide" town sanitary sewer easement through the property.

"I think everything we're proposing is within the 6,000 square foot minimum lot size," Thornton said. "The separations between the homes, the setbacks from the property lines, I believe everything is code compliant, so we're not looking for any variances."

Much of the discussion Tuesday was about stormwater drainage.  The plan includes a swale, already a natural feature of the property, to drain water into a retention pond so it can be slowly drained into the town's stormwater drainage system, as well as berms to help channel runoff.

The new development will not increase runoff on Stringham Drive, Thornton said.

"Stringham Drive's drainage is coming our way actually," Thornton said. "We're actually capturing the runoff from Stringham Drive that's coming out on our property and routing it around our home sites, trying to get it up into this swale (pointing to an architectural drawing) up in here. Really, anything within the development area we have to capture and route into our stormwater management areas. So anything we have is going into those areas where we'll mitigate the flow to existing conditions as it leaves the property."

There are currently three driveways serving the development.

Planning documents submitted by Thornton's firm state there will not be a significant increase in traffic as a result of the additional pre-manufactured homes. It states there will be 275 additional vehicle trips daily, with 19 additional trips during the peak morning hour and 42 during the peak afternoon hour, and most of those trips through the property's western driveway.

That driveway can easily accommodate the additional traffic, the report states.

Photo: Glenn Thornton. Photo by Howard Owens.

No way out? Turnaround

By Joanne Beck


Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

Byron resident Terry Speed learned that about his impromptu turnaround at a home on Oak Street, Batavia. He and his wife Dawn purchased the one-family building in 2016, complete with a small turnaround in the front yard. The soil settled and it became a small pond, he said.

Speed then dug a channel through the sunken area so that water could escape. He has applied for a variance to add 12 feet of loose stone to his existing 23-foot-wide driveway. That would make a 48 percent lot frontage at the Oak Street property. According to city code, “the width of driveways and parking spaces may not exceed 25 percent of lot frontage,” prompting the need for a variance.

“We needed to come and speak with you people.  I was told to apply for a variance,” Speed said during Tuesday’s City Planning & Development Committee meeting. “I would like to have a proper turnaround. I jumped the gun, it’s my fault.”

He has a business variance for his wife’s beauty salon to operate in the back of the home, he said. Customers usually arrive one at a time, but there are occasions when there are three vehicles (including his wife’s) in the driveway at one time. Given the amount of traffic on Oak Street, which is state Route 98, it’s difficult for customers to back out of the drive, he said. He added that he also thought it was illegal to back out onto a state roadway.

“People in and out of there are having a hard time,” Speed said. “Something’s going to happen. She’s hearing horns blow.”

In his application, Speed said that this issue is “due to bumper-to-bumper traffic on Oak Street weekdays,” and is therefore not a self-created problem.

As for the legal aspects of backing out onto Route 98, according to New York State’s vehicle and traffic law, there are limitations on backing up a vehicle. Section 1211 states that “the driver of a vehicle shall not back the same unless such movement can be made with safety and without interfering with other traffic. The driver of a vehicle shall not back the same upon any shoulder or roadway of any controlled-access highway.”

Still, allowing for the turnaround proposed by Speed “seems like an excessive amount, and sets a precedent for neighbors,” committee member Ed Flynn said.

He and fellow members discussed the options and issues with such a set-up, and eventually recommended a compromise: a 10-foot by 18-foot turnaround that is at least 18 feet from the road and 10 feet from the sidewalk.

Speed will continue the process with the Zoning Board of Appeals later this week.

For anyone who lives on Oak Street or other similar streets that coincide with busy state highways, how do you get out of your driveways? The Batavian would like to know your solutions for a follow-up article. Email them to:

Illustration: Satellite view of Oak Street property requiring a variance for a larger turnaround area. Heavy traffic on Oak Street (Route 98), Batavia, prompted the variance request to create more space for visitors to turn around versus backing out onto the street. Illustration provided by City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee.

Public meeting slated for April 19 to discuss County Resiliency Plan

By Press Release

Press release:

On behalf of New York Green, CC Environment & Planning and LaBella Associates are holding a Public Input Meeting on Tuesday, April 19, to discuss the Draft Genesee County Resiliency Plan. The Draft Resiliency Plan provides an overview of current and future climate trends and impacts in Genesee County; identification of County assets, risks, vulnerabilities, and opportunities; development and prioritization of local resilience strategies; and projects designed for immediate implementation. The Draft Resiliency Plan is available for public review and comment at: COUNTYWIDE RESILIENCY PLAN (

The Resiliency Plan is being developed in partnership between New York Green and Genesee County, with funding from the NYS Department of State.

The Public Open House will be held on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at the Innovation Room in the Genesee County Economic Development Center Office, located at 99 MedTech Drive in Batavia. There will be two sessions to facilitate participation. The first session will be held from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm. The second will be held from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm. A presentation outlining the Draft Resiliency Plan will be provided, followed by an open discussion.

For more information, contact Sheila Hess at CC Environment & Planning, at (518) 219-4030 or visit COUNTYWIDE RESILIENCY PLAN (

Alexander to undertake new comprehensive plan, looking for volunteers to serve on committee

By Howard B. Owens

Alexander Supervisor David Miller informed the Town Board on Monday night that it's time for the town to update its comprehensive plan.

The current plan was approved in 2003.

A comprehensive plan is a document that is created by a community to help guide future planning and zoning decisions, setting goals for growth and defining the kind of community its members desire in the future.

Miller said potential members of the comprehensive plan committee include planning board members, zoning board members, along with representatives from key businesses in the community.

Anybody in the community can apply to serve on the committee.

Those interested in applying for a seat on the committee should contact Town Clerk Shannon Tiede at or (585) 591-2455 ext 101.

Standing-room only crowd gathers Wednesday for hearing on proposed campground in Pavilion

By Joanne Beck
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A standing-room-only crowd pitted supporters against the opposition Wednesday evening during a proposed campground hearing at Pavilion Town Hall.

Applicant Jesse Coots has been working with the town’s Planning Board to address a litany of requirements in order for Lokee-Hikee Campgrounds to be environmentally sound and neighbor-friendly. The Pavilion project to be situated on a 110-acre parcel on Perry Road still raises many concerns, speaker and Pavilion resident Mike Fisher said. 

He directly addressed the group of about 50 attendees first.

“Not one of you folks lives near this. Their home is not right next to this thing. They're not going to be affected by the noise, the light, sound, the smell, the traffic, and litter, with a bunch of transient people coming in and out of this place,” Fisher said. “We're going to have diminished property value. I think the board's number one job is to protect the neighborhood. This has been going on since 2020. And every time the plan changes, every single time. That speaks volumes.”

Planning Board Chairman Bill Fuest said that the process includes answering questions and meeting requirements. Engineers, town, county, and state entities have done their “due diligence” to thoroughly vet the project to ensure it complies with zoning and codes, he said. 

During her presentation on the project, Sara Gilbert, president of Pinewoods Engineering, laid out the scope of the project and offered assurance that setbacks and other utilities would align with local and state codes. A septic system, public electric and gas, two recently drilled wells, and stormwater management are in the plan, as well as wetland consultants to work with the Department of Environmental Conservation to have no negative impact on the property’s wetlands, Gilbert said. 

Only 24 percent of the total acreage is being mapped out for development, she said, and the application includes an eventual plot for 145 campsites. 

“It's going to be located on a beautiful piece of land. The applicants would love to have it landscaped with facilities that fit well within the community. It will include a registration building that will have a camp store and food facilities, a pool, pavilion, picnic areas, public restrooms, all-black sky-compliant lighting, and a recreational plan,” she said. “We've also been required to hire an archaeologist and investigate the site to make sure we're not having any negative impacts on historic resources and that also has been cleared by an appropriate state department. We've had a geotechnical engineer on-site, reviewing the soils with us making sure that they're adequate for a septic system, and making sure there aren't any downstream impacts. We've had a landscape architect on the team helping us design plantings and buffering. We have licensed land surveyors, multiple engineers, architects, and development consultant firms who are all part of the team that has helped us get to this point.”

And as for zoning, Gilbert said the project has been designed to “completely 100 percent comply” with town zoning codes.

Fisher was one of a half-dozen people who weren’t on board with Gilbert’s assurances. Carrie Page, who moved to Pavilion a year and a half ago, had three main reasons for opposing the campgrounds. 

“First and foremost is privacy and safety. When I think about safety, pulling out of my driveway, I'm just over the Knoll. It's quick, go. I gotta pull out and stay on the wrong side of the road before I can go over. So adding more traffic to Perry Road, based on where I live … that's a danger zone that you have,” Page said. “So I am concerned from a traffic standpoint. The well water is a concern, I have a pond in my front yard. You wouldn't think that I would run out of water, but I do.”

Although speaker Guy Laesser ended by asking Planning Board members who to call when he runs out of water, he did not lay out any specific reasons for why he was opposed to the project. He does not want a “city in the middle of the country,” and appeared to be angry that Coots has invested money into this venture.

“The town board has allowed Jesse and his family into this project to invest who knows how much money. It plays into Jesse’s favor to invest all that money into it,” Laesser said. “It’s going to affect our life and the way we live.”

Ray Butler, who said he’s against the plan, believes the project “does not meet the standards” of zoning and proper construction guidelines. 

“The project is not harmonious with the community,” he said. 

Setbacks of 140 to 150 feet are three times the required amount, Gilbert said. Camping spaces meet code requirements of being a minimum of 100 feet from any property lines, she said. 

There were also plenty of people that spoke up for the project. Citing a family-friendly venue, increased tax base, potential revenue from the additional shoppers in the area, increased job opportunities, outdoor recreational offerings of a pool and a pond, five or six miles of hiking trails, a disc golf course, and the fun of camping, Lokee-Hikee seemed like a great idea, they said.

“The more campgrounds we have, the better,” Alan Buchanan said. “We need to get our kids off video games. I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

Timothy Bartholomew spoke as a businessman. Traveling a lot for work has meant being able to compare Pavilion to other towns, he said. The increased business and revenue to come from the campground should seriously be considered, he said. 

“I see towns dying all over the place. The state’s picking from the county, the county’s picking from the town. Where’s the money coming from,” he said. “As a business owner, hopefully, everybody understands what this could mean.”

Brook Coniber knows Jesse and his wife Jolene Coots very well, she said. She spoke to their character and how this project could put Pavilion in the much-needed spotlight.

“People don’t know where we are,” she said. “They would never plan to bring anything to the community that would cause harm.” 

The applicants have been working with the town and completing an environmental review, site plan special use permit review, and building permit, Gilbert said. MRB Group, led by Project Manager Jonathan Hinman, has been representing the town of Pavilion.

“So we have, over the course of many months, been working with the board. We've been taking feedback from the board and from some of the neighbors that have spoken at those meetings. We've changed the buffering type planting to try to accommodate what's been requested to the greatest extent that we can,” Gilbert said. “And I would just like to close with saying the owners would really like to make this facility just a jewel of the community and a business that many generations of their family and the community family can really be proud to be associated with. We hope you'll agree that this project is good for the community and we hope you'll express your support to the board.”

There were 22 people signed up to speak, and because some of them may not have been able to voice all of their comments, Fuest motioned to officially continue the hearing and allow emailed comments to be sent in. The board agreed to keep the hearing open until the next board meeting on Feb. 16.

“We will read any additional input and take the next steps,” Fuest said, adding that “there’s a chance” the board could vote on the proposed plan during that meeting. 

As for the questions about any potential impact to area water supplies, Hinman said that is still under review by Genesee County Health Department.

Presidential Acres residents appealing court's decision throwing out complaint over use of driveway on Fillmore Street

By Howard B. Owens

An attorney for residents of Presidential Acres in Le Roy said today following a hearing in Genesee County Supreme Court that her clients are proceeding with an appeal of a ruling against their attempt to overturn a Town of Darien judge's dismissal of their effort to enforce a Zoning Board of Appeals decision.

The residents, with Steve Barbeau as lead plaintiff, believe that Pete McQuillen should use a driveway on Robbins Road, and not on Fillmore Street, to access an auxiliary structure and residence on his property at 9313 Robbins Road, Le Roy.

They believe a ZBA decision requires McQuillen and any visitors to his property to use the Robbins Road driveway.

In January, Justice Emilio Colaiacovo dismissed an Article 78 motion by Barbeau and co-petitioners to overturn a decision by Darien Town Justice Michelle Krzemien dismissing a criminal complaint against McQuillen that was based on the ZBA decision for allegedly violating Village of Le Roy code.

In that ruling, Colaiacovo used harsh language to criticize the actions of the petitioners and also said Krzemien was within her authority to dismiss the criminal charges "in the interest of justice." 

He ordered a hearing, scheduled for this morning, on repayment of attorneys fees for the Town of Darien stemming from the Article 78 petition challenging her decision and right to make the decision.

At the hearing this morning, attorney David M. DiMatteo, representing the Town of Darien, said the town and judge were waiving a claim on reimbursement of attorney fees.

After court, DiMatteo explained that the fees expended so far were covered by insurance but if the town were involved in the ongoing appeal, the town could incur expenses that would not be covered by insurance. 

"It's not really our fight," he said.

Amy Kendall, representing Barbeau and the other plaintiffs, confirmed for Colaiacovo that the petitioners' appeal excludes Krzemien and lets stand his ruling that Krzemien acted within her authority as a town justice.

After court Kendall said the appeal is an attempt to enforce the ZBA decision and is focused on those topics of the Article 78 proceeding.

Pete McQuillen and Judith McQuillen were in court this morning as observers.

Previously: Latest court ruling doesn't look like end of long-running neighborhood dispute in Le Roy

Latest court ruling doesn't look like end of long-running neighborhood dispute in Le Roy

By Howard B. Owens


Good fences make good neighbors the poet Robert Frost observed, but that may not apply to driveways, at least not in Le Roy.

A driveway is the latest flashpoint in a nearly decade-long neighborhood dispute that pits local businessman Pete McQuillen against Steve Barbeau and other residents of the subdivision known as Presidential Acres.

In the latest chapter, McQuillen was brought up on criminal charges for use of a driveway that traverses a parcel he owns next to the residence of Barbeau. It allows him to access both a utility building he constructed behind Barbeau's lot and the single-family home he and his wife, Judith, now live in further back on their parcel.

A judge in Darien Town Court dismissed the criminal complaint, which prompted Barbeau and several other residents to file an Artice 78 petition seeking, among other things, to overturn the dismissal.

An Article 78 filing, or proceeding, is an appeal of an agency decision. It is how a citizen in New York can appeal to judge in a county supreme court the ruling or decision of any government agency in the state.

Barbeau's side lost in a harshly worded decision written by Justice Emilio Colaiacovo of the NYS Supreme Court 8th Judicial District.

"As this Court has some familiarity with these parties and prior proceedings, it is deeply troubled by the continued methods employed by the Petitioners," Colaiacovo wrote. "While it is one thing to complain about your neighbor, it is another to install video equipment and keep a log documenting your neighbor's activities in an attempt to subject and expose him to criminal prosecution. The Petitioners' demonstrated pattern of prosecution against their neighbor is nothing short of harassment."

Despite the ruling, the legal proceedings are likely to continue, Barbeau indicted in an email to The Batavian.

History of Disputes
McQuillen purchased property in the Fillmore/Robbins Road area, adjoining Presidential Acres, in September 2010.

Shortly after acquiring the property, McQuillen announced his intention to build 26 single-family homes for people 55 and over on the subdivision, which McQuillen dubbed "Robbins Nest." This met with opposition and eventually resulted in a lawsuit with Barbeau, supervisor in the Town of Le Roy, as one of the plaintiffs.

The legal challenges eventually brought an end to McQuillen's plans for Robbins Nest, but by that time he was being sued over duplexes he built in the subdivision as well as a challenge to the utility barn he built behind Barbeau's home.

McQuillen eventually prevailed in the challenge to the duplexes and in that ruling, issued in February 2017, Colaiacovo determined the challenge to the utility structure was moot because McQuillen had built a single-family residence on the property (a utility structure, or garage, or barn, is not permitted as a stand-alone structure on a lot in a single-family area, according to Village of Le Roy code).

Village code enforcement had, perhaps incorrectly, issued a building permit to McQuillen for the utility building before plans were submitted for the single-family residence.

While McQuillen was erecting that barn-like structure in August 2013, Barbeau became upset with McQuillen when a tree fell on his house (there was little or no damage). An argument ensued and an accusation that Barbeau shoved McQuillen, causing him to fall ot the ground, leading to Barbeau's arrest (Barbeau eventually received a conditional discharge).

It was during this time that Barbeau and his then-neighbor David Boyce (who has since moved) had their own complaints against McQuillen. McQuillen was accused of parking construction equipment in front of their homes; storing waste construction material on the property across the street; and of once dumping a pile of manure against the back property line Boyce's home just in time for a graduation party for Boyce's daughter (an allegation recounted in a recent email to The Batavian from Amy Kendall, attorney for the Presidential Acres residents).

In July 2013, the Village granted a building permit for McQuillen to construct a single-family home with an address of 9313 Robbins Road.

Boyce and neighbors, in a lawsuit titled Bartz vs. Le Roy, challenged the ZBA's decision on the building permit.

As part of its decision, the ZBA ruled (and this point is part of the ongoing dispute) that ingress and egress for 9312 Robbins Road would be from a driveway leading to Robbins Road.

The neighbors ended up withdrawing the suit, letting the ZBA decision stand, in order to challenge McQuillen's use of the driveway leading to Fillmore Street.

Barbeau began keeping a log of traffic on that driveway, and at the suggestion of a code enforcement officer, set up a video camera to monitor vehicle traffic on the driveway.

That evidence was eventually used to file a criminal complaint against McQuillen. The case was moved to Darien because both justices in Le Roy had a conflict of interest as did Judge Gary Graber in Darien, which is how the case was handed to Darien Town Justice Michelle Krzemien.

The Easement
Pete and Judith McQuillen own the parcel at 9313 Robbins Road.

Judith McQuillen is CEO of Circular Hill Inc., according to a court filing by attorney Kendall, and that corporation owns the parcel adjoining Fillmore Street.

In September 2013, Circular Hill granted an easement to the McQuillens for use of a driveway and utility connections attached to the Robbins Road residence.

In July 2014, the Zoning Board of Appeals affirmed its prior decision to issue a building permit, after hearing an appeal from the neighbors, and stated in its decision, "The board notes the owners' right of entry to the primary and accessory structure will be accessed through Robbins Road."

It's the position of Barbeau and his co-plaintiffs that the decision limits the McQuillens to using only the drive leading to Robbins Road.

One point of contention in the case is that McQuillen did not mention, nor did the ZBA ask about, nor did anybody apparently research, the easement on the property next to Barbeau's.

McQuillen did not appeal this decision and later claimed he did not know about the ZBA's written decision requiring access on Robbins Road.

The McQuillens received a certificate of occupancy for their new home in June 2016.

Later that month, Pete McQuillen testified in the Bartz case that he used the Robbins Road driveway for ingress and egress to his house.

In July 2016, Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Steinbrenner sent a letter to McQuillen notifying him that he was violating Village code and the ZBA decision by using the Fillmore Street driveway.

From August 2016 through January 2017, Barbeau made a log of vehicles using the Fillmore Street driveway, which included a black Dodge Ram, a white GMC SUV, a gray pickup, a FedEx truck, tractors, a four-wheeler, and several other vehicles.

The following February, the Village filed a criminal complaint against McQuillen.

The case was transferred to Darien Town Court in May and McQuillen's attorney Benjaman Bonarigo filed a motion to dismiss the criminal complaint "in the interest of justice" in the fall.

A hearing on the motion was held Dec. 3, 2017.

The Dismissal Hearing
In New York, a criminal case can be dismissed "in the interest of justice" if a judge finds compelling factors about the circumstances of the case that clearly demonstrate that prosecution, or conviction, would result in an injustice, such as insufficiency of evidence or the defendant was really doing nothing wrong.

At the dismissal hearing in People v. McQuillen, Bonarigo represented McQuillen and James Wujcik represented the Village of Le Roy.

Kendall and Barbeau were also present and both attempted to speak and Krzemien denied their requests, an effort characterized by Colaiacovo in his ruling as an attempt to influence the proceedings.

In her subsequent filings, Kendall would have a few complaints about this hearing:

  • That neither Bonarigo nor Wujcik corrected Krzemien on relevant points of law;
  • That Wujcik did not correct what Kendall sees as inaccurate factual statements during the hearing and that he did not sufficiently challenge Bonarigo on points of law;
  • That neither attorney corrected Krzemien on misstatements about the county issuing the easement;
  • That Bonarigo failed to produce citations to back his assertion that the easement barred his client from being charged criminally;
  • That she wasn't allowed to speak in violation of court rules.

At the hearing, Bonarigo spoke first, according to a court transcript, and presented the facts of the case as he saw it, from McQuillen's purchase of the property in 2010 through McQuillen's eventual criminal charge. He covered the easement and the ZBA hearings.

In the midst of his presentation, Krzemien interrupted and explained why she had not read filings from Kendall relevant to the Bartz case.

"I did not look at the paperwork because I don't know too much about zoning and you (Bonarigo) told me the appellate -- the appellate decision had nothing do with what was laid out here," she said.

A short time later, Bonarigo sums up, "Let me just say ... there's an easement. It's a matter of record. It allows for exactly what Mr. McQuillen is accused of doing here in a quasi-criminal matter. Therefore, it's our contention that based upon those facts and what's before this court, documentarily, that you should dismiss this case in the interest of justice."

In response, Wujcik argues that the ZBA had already ruled that McQuillen could only access his property from Robbins Road.

"Mr. McQuillen never disclosed that he had an easement," Wucik said. "So since he didn't disclose it, then the business about that he wasn't aware of the ZBA's decision -- our position is that's misplaced because he was the defendant in a litigation, so he certainly was aware of the two -- there's also a different ZBA decision against him -- but he was aware of that."

After more discussion, Krzemien asked who issued an easement, the village or the county.

Wujcik explained that private citizens grant easements, with a short explanation of how the process works, and that once two private parties agree on an easement, it is filed with the relevant government agency.

After the explanation, Krzemien asked, "So I guess what I'm asking is, ... in the VIllage of Le Roy, is there a process that you would go through to get an easement or all easements issued through the county?"

Bonarigo: "No, there is no such procedure."

Krzemien: "No such procedure."

There is then a long discussion related to issues contained in the Bartz case.

Returning to the requirement to use Robbins Road, Bonarigo said, "The ZBA can't create that by law over the top ... they can't take away a legal right that has been formulated for years prior to it by just a stroke of the pen. They don't have that kind of authority. As a matter of law, the easement was in existence."

Wujcik said the ZBA has the authority to nullify an easement, and as to the assertion that the ZBA didn't ask about the easement, "the Zoning Board of Appeals doesn't know what it doesn't know. If they are not made aware of an easement, they can't make an interpretation or a ruling on it."

Bonarigo: "They were made aware of it, Judge. That's my point."

He would later point out that the easement is on file with the clerk's office and is a public document and easily discoverable. In reviewing court documents obtained by The Batavian we didn't find any indication the ZBA was made aware of the easement prior its decision, nor is there any indication any ZBA member or staff member tried to research the title of the property.

After more discussion, Krzemien makes reference to the county granting the easement and discusses the life of the easement, which goes with the land.

Wujcik did not correct her misstatement about the easement being granted by the county but did agree it goes with the land.

Later, Wujcik points out that the McQuillens filed the easement two weeks after the first ZBA discussion of the property but before any ZBA decision.

At this point, Kendall tries to speak and Bonarigo objects.

"This is not a civil matter despite what Ms. Kendall might think," Bonarigo tells the judge.

Krzemien: "Ms. Kendall, I'm sorry. I'm not going to hear what you have to say, so will you have to sit down, please."

A few pages later in the transcript, Krzemien again refers to the county issuing the easement and neither attorney corrects her misstatement.

At one point, Krzemien complains about Kendall, "I'm not. I'm not. I know you're just -- got information from him. And that little bird back there is chirping at you."

Wujcik: "Yeah, I don't need her -- no disrespect to her, I don't need the chirping."

When it comes time to discuss when Krzemien might issue a decision, Krzemien asks that McQuillen, in the meantime, stop driving bulldozers down the driveway, along with snowmobiles and four-wheelers; asking that they only use the driveway for their own personal vehicles, except for snow removal. McQuillen agrees.

On April 16, Krzemien granted McQuillen's motion, dismissing the criminal complaint in the interest of justice, noting the existence of a valid easement.

The Village of Le Roy did not appeal Krzemien's decision, and Wujcik later informed Colaiacovo that the Village would not be joining the challenge by neighbors to the ruling.

The Batavian emailed Wujcik last week and asked why the Village did not appeal the ruling, as well as why Wujcik did not mount a more explicit challenge to Bonarigo's assertion that the easement took precedence over Village code or the ZBA decision. After acknowledging our questions and saying he would respond, he did not provide a statement.

The Batavian also contacted Bonarigo and asked him to provide case law citations or specific code sections that would indicate an easement takes precedence over local codes or a ZBA decision.

Bonarigo responded:

A decision was rendered by Justice Emilio Colaiacovo, Supreme Court, supporting my client's position on the Art. 78. I trust you have read that and would hope that you are going to report that result as I don't care to relitigate the Town of Darien case with you.

Bonarigo has declined to comment on follow-up questions.

Article 78 Petition and Ruling
Kendall filed an Article 78 petition May 16. The petition was on behalf of Barbeau, Earl Bickett, Robert Boyce, Joseph McKay, Stephen Moulton, and Ronald Paganin, all property owners in Presidential Acres.

In her motion, Kendall said the petitioners had no other means of seeking remedy than through an Article 78 petition.

The petition asks the court to annul Krzemien's "arbitrary, capricious, and illegal decision." Kendall claimed the ruling was based on insufficient information and misunderstanding of relevant law. Kendall asked the court to rule the use of the driveway off of Fillmore Street illegal and order that it no longer be used.

She asked that the court rule that the McQuillens' use of the driveway constituted a nuisance.

As part of the motion to overrule Krzemien's decision and bar use of the driveway, Kendall complains that the Village of Le Roy failed to challenge the judge's inaccurate statements and that her clients have experienced special damages.

She also asks for attorneys fees, court costs and punitive damages.

By the third page of his 17-page opinion rendering his decision, Colaiacovo is sniping at the petitioners.

"The petitioners live near McQuillen and have exhaustively and painstakingly monitored this otherwise innocuous activity and complaint to the Village of Le Roy," Colaiacovo writes.

The justice ruled that since the criminal proceeding involved only the Village of Le Roy, which declined to participate in the petition, and McQuillen, the petitioners lacked standing to file the motion.

The petitioners failed to demonstrate any injury or harm they sustained because McQuillen used the driveway, Colaiacovo said, adding, "It certainly is not a nuisance as Petitioners maintain, however, there is mounting evidence to suggest that these continued lawsuits are."

He dismissed the complaint against Krzemien, saying that even if the petitioners had standing, Krzemien has judicial immunity.

"Petitioners insist that they have a viable cause of action against the Town Justice because she lacked subject matter jurisdiction over a ZBA decision. Petitioners strangely maintain that by granting the motion to dismiss, the judge erroneously invalidated a ZBA decision by passing judgment on the validity of an easement. However, the Town Justice insists that these charges were dismissed 'in the interest of justice.' This court agrees that the Petitioners' argument improperly mischaracterizes the decision of the Town Justice."

While a town justice doesn't have subject matter jurisdiction, Colaiacovo said, they can dismiss such matters "in the interest of justice."

"Judge Krzemien's determination was just that, a determination and exercise of her judgment, and not a ministerial or clerical act that could be reviewed under Article 78."

He added later in the same section, "to otherwise entertain the relief requested would create a terrible precedent, allowing officious, meddlesome individuals, like those here, an opportunity to intervene and challenge any judge's decision that offends their belief of what the law should be. Sanctioning the relief requested by the Petitioners would only empower like-minded obstreperous people who are engaged, as is the case here, in a simple yet ongoing neighborhood dispute."

While the neighbors sought attorneys fees, court costs, and punitive damages, Colaiacovo notes the arguments of Bonarigo claim that the Article 78 petition was "frivolous" and that challenging the town justice's decision was "beyond zealous representation and of a client and constituted an abuse of process."

Colaiacovo also faulted Kendall and Barbeau for what he said was attempted interference in the McQuillen case at the Dec. 3 hearing and then commencing the Article 78 petition without standing.

"This tactic, which is completely lacking in merit and cannot be supported by a reasonable argument, cannot now be simply overlooked," Colaiacovo wrote. "When viewed in its entirety, the conduct of Petitioners clearly evidences a systematic and torrid legal assault of anyone who stands in the way of what they ultimately seek, including a local Town Justice. This court finds that this reckless and egregious conduct justifies the imposition of costs and fees."

Colaiacovo ordered a hearing on costs and fees for 9:30 a.m., Feb. 14.

Kendall said her clients remain unsatisfied with the response of the Village to the situation, unhappy with Krzemien's ruling, and with Colaiacovo's opinion upholding that decision.

"My clients simply want the McQuillens to comply with the law of the Village," Kendall wrote in an email to The Batavian. "I do not know why that is so difficult. The McQuillens have at least one other driveway onto their property, so the reason they continue to violate the ZBA Decision seems clear. The Village did not support its Code Enforcement Officer’s determination that McQuillen was violating the ZBA Decision by appealing the Justice Court’s obviously incorrect decision. At this point, it appears that having an easement allows you to violate Village law and that is a very dangerous precedent."

She added, "My clients do not want to live with this ongoing harassment and feel that they should be protected from it by the Village. The Village isn’t protecting them."

Given a chance to respond to Kendall's remarks, McQuillen replied, "My response would be to only quote the Supreme Court Judge Hon. Emilio Colaiacovo in his decision – 'The Petitioners’ demonstrated pattern of prosecution against their neighbor is nothing short of harassment.' "

This is probably not the end of the story.


Photos: Top and bottom photo made Jan. 17. The top photo is the driveway from Fillmore Street. The bottom photo is the driveway from Robbins Road. Both drives showed evidence of regular use at the time the photos were taken. "Skippy's Way" refers to a friend of Pete McQuillen's, he said.



Map of the area we created in 2013 to provide an overview of who owned what property. Fillmore Street now connects with Robbins Road. David Boyce is no longer a resident of Presidential Acres.

Batavia should start pitching tents to help bring people back to Downtown

By Howard B. Owens

Downtown Batavia's future is not the mall; it's the open areas south of Main Street, suggests Tim Tielman, a preservationist and urban planner with a track record of success in Buffalo.

Jackson Street, Jackson Square, the south side of Main Street, are where we can find what's left of Batavia's vitality, Tielman said, in a recent interview with The Batavian. The mall, he said, is the last place Batavia should invest tax dollars.

"It's a continuing drag on Batavians, their creativity, their dynamism, their energy," Tielman said. "It's this energy sucking death star in the middle of the city, and you shouldn't spend any money making it a better death star."

We interviewed Tielman in advance of his talk this Wednesday night at 7 o'clock at GO ART! for The Landmark Society of Genesee County's annual meeting.

The topic: How Batavia gets its mojo back. 

Tielman's basic thesis is that Batavia was at its apex just after the end of the 19th century when the village, soon to become a city, had a robust, densely populated urban center with hundreds of businesses.

If that downtown, which was destroyed by urban renewal, still existed Tielman said, people from Rochester and Buffalo as well as the rest of the GLOW region would flock to Batavia every week for the small city experience.

Niagara on the Lake still has it. Batavia lost it. But, with effort, Batavia can get it back, but it will literally be a ground-up process, not a top-down, consultant-driven, developer-driven effort. Batavians have to do it for themselves. But Batavians are already pointing the way if city leaders will listen.

"There's obviously an innate human need for want of a better term, congenial spaces, in towns, cities, and villages, and even in times where they've been destroyed in war or urban renewal, people find them or build them," Tielman said. "What we see in Batavia is people have happened upon Jackson Square because it's a leftover thing that no one thought about and wasn't destroyed.

"The qualities of the thing as a physical space make it a very interesting case. You enter through a narrow passageway, and suddenly, totally unexpectedly, you come to a larger space, and even though it obviously wasn't designed with gathering in mind it has everything people want as a place to gather."

Jackson Square, Jackson Street, combined with the local businesses that still populate the business district on the south side of Main Street are strengths to build on, Tielman said. Batavia can leverage the density already found there and add to it.

But Tielman isn't an advocate of trying to lure developers with tax dollars to build big projects. He believes, primarily, in a more grassroots approach. 

The "death star," he said, and continuing efforts to deal with it, are part of the "urban renewal industrial complex," as he put it, and that failed approach should be avoided.

"The solutions (of urban renewal) are all the same," Tielman said. "It's like, 'let's put out an RFP, let's get some state money instead of saying', 'well, what do the Batavians need? What are they thirsty for? What are they dying for?' What you'll find is that Batavians are like every other group of homo sapiens on the face of the Earth. If they had their druthers, they'd want something within walking distance.

"They'd want to meet friends. They'd want to do stuff close at hand and in a way that they're not killed by vehicles careening down streets at 30 or 40 miles an hour. They want their kids to be safe. They don't want to worry about them being struck by a tractor-trailer when they're riding their bikes to the candy store."

That means, of course, narrowing Ellicott Street through Downtown, perhaps adding diagonal parking to Main Street, moving auto parking from out of the center of the city, particularly in the triangle between Jackson, Main and Ellicott, which Tielman sees as the most promising area of downtown to increase density first.

Batavians will need to decide for themselves what to do, but what he suggests is that the city makes it possible for the parking lot between Jackson and Court become one big mini-city, filled with tents and temporary structures and no parking.

"The rents for a temporary store or a tent or a stand or a hotdog cart should be low enough to allow a huge segment of the population (of Batavia) to experiment," Tielman said.

Low rents remove one of the biggest impediments to people starting a business and open up the experimental possibilities so that Batavians decide for themselves what they want downtown. 

"This gives Batavia the best chance to see, whether for a very low investment on a provisional basis, (if) this will work," Tielman said. "It's not sitting back for 10 years trying to concoct a real estate investment scheme based on some RFP to lure developers and give them handouts at tremendous public risk. The idea is lower the risk and do things the way successful places have done it for millennia."

That's how it worked for Canalside, one of the projects, besides Larkin Square, Tielman has helped get started in Buffalo. With Canalside, development started with tents and temporary vendors. Now the area is revitalized, and permanent structures are being erected. It's a Buffalo success story.

The idea of starting new business and community centers with tents and temporary structures is something Tielman suggested for Batavia's future when he spoke to the Landmark Society in 2013. He suggested then the major obstacle standing in the way of Batavia's economic vitality wasn't the mall, it is massive amounts of asphalt for parking -- economically unproductive and mostly unused.

While he likes the Ellicott Street project, primarily because of the 55 apartments being added to Downtown's housing stock but also because of the involvement of Sam Savarino who has been part of successful restoration projects in Buffalo, Tielman thinks the project needs to have "connective tissue" with everything on the north side of Ellicott Street.

That means narrowing Ellicott, adding wider, more pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, and slowing down truck traffic flowing through Downtown.

Any such plan would involve the state Department of Transportation but that, he said, is just a matter of the city being willing to stand up to the DOT and paying for its own maintenance of that stretch of Route 63.

"If the Batavia's really serious about fixing (Route 63), it should do it on its own dime," Tielman said.

As part of Tielman's suggestion to concentrate growth strategies on the south side of Main Street, Tielman agrees that the farmer's market, currently at Alva and Bank, should be moved to Jackson Street.

The current location is too far from the existing local businesses, so the tendency is for people to drive to Alva, park, shop and leave. The traffic being drawn downtown isn't staying downtown.

Tielman talked about contiguity, the quality of commercial spaces adjoining each other, being necessary for convenience of users and survival of businesses.

"Connective tissue," a phrase used several times by Tielman, is critical to city centers.

"Contiguity is the lifeblood of settlements of towns and of cities," Tielman said. "If left to their own devices, places will develop like this -- and you'll see this up to World War II -- whether they were European cities, Asian cities or American cities.

"Look at a (1918) map of Batavia, contiguity was everything," Tielman added. "In a town of 18,000 people you had four-story buildings. It's crazy, you would think, but (it was built up that way)  because (of) the distance from the train station to Main Street to the courthouse. That's where you wanted to be. Everyone's walking around."

People are social animals -- Tielman made this point several times -- and Batavians, if given a chance, will support a city center with more density, Tielman said because that's human nature. What exactly that looks like, that's up to Batavians, but creating that environment will give residents a stronger sense of community, more personal connections, and shared life experience. That will foster the community's creativity and vitality, which is better than just accepting decline.

"I mean, if you look at the great John Gardner," his formative years are "when Batavia was still a place where a young John Gardner could walk up the street, buy comic books, get into trouble over there by the railroad tracks, buy something for his mother on the way home, blah, blah, blah. He could have quite a day in town and encounter characters of different stripes that can actually (be worked) into pretty rich novels of American life. You wonder whether Batavia could produce a John Gardner today."

Tim Tielman has a lot more to say about Batavia getting its mojo back (this is condensed from an hour-long conversation). Go to GO ART! at 7 p.m. Wednesday to hear more about it, ask questions, even challenge his ideas.


Top: Use the slider on the map to compare Batavia of 1938 with Batavia of 2016.

Town of Byron to update Comprehensive Plan, draft now available, public info meeting is Thursday night

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The Town of Byron has been working on an update of the Town’s 1993 Comprehensive Plan. A DRAFT Plan Update is now available.

The Comprehensive Plan is a document that guides and controls future growth and development in the community. It looks at the Town’s existing conditions and past trends, and sets forth a vision for the future, along with strategies for how to improve conditions in the Town.  

One of the most important steps in updating the Comprehensive Plan is getting public involvement. We want to be sure the plan reflects the community’s vision for Byron’s future.

The Town will be hosting a public information meeting on Thursday, May 24th at the South Byron Fire Hall to get your input. It is located at 7389  Route 237, South Byron.

The doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the project team will present the DRAFT Plan Update for informal questions and discussions.

A brief presentation will begin at 7 p.m., followed by the opportunity to voice your opinion and ask questions.

You may view the DRAFT Plan Update (PDF) on the Town’s website here.

A printed copy is available for viewing at the Byron Town Clerk’s Office.

Town of Byron Comprehensive Plan Chairman George Squires can be reached via email at:

Developer of Dollar General in East Pembroke says he will swap parking for a new sidewalk

By Howard B. Owens


The developer of a proposed Dollar General Store in East Pembroke was willing to do a little trading with the Town of Batavia Planning Board on Tuesday night.

If the town will let him reduce the number of parking spaces from 47 to something closer to 30 he would ensure there is a sidewalk installed along Route 5 in front of the store.

"I would be more than willing to remove the parking spaces, whether it gets down to 30 or some number down there that makes sense based on the layout," said Todd Hamula of the Zaremba Group. "Then I'd stripe across here to a sidewalk that I would build either on the property or just in the DOT right of way."

Quickly, plans were made then for Hamula to rework is the site plan and get it before the County Planning Board again -- which last week recommended a sidewalk be included in the project -- and then in front of the town's Zoning Board of Appeals before coming back to the town planning board again in a month.

The ZBA would need to approve a variance for the reduced parking because the current zoning code requires a building of the type and size of the proposed Dollar General to have at least 47 parking spaces.

Hamula said that anybody who has frequently driven past a Dollar General knows there's usually only an average of five or six cars parked out front most of the time.

The Town of Batavia is in the process of reworking its comprehensive plan and adopting a planning philosophy known as form-based code. 

One of the goals of the process is to make East Pembroke a more walkable community, which means sidewalks are needed.

Paul McCullough, board member and East Pembroke resident, spoke up in favor of making the hamlet more walkable and argued in favor of a sidewalk installed with the construction of the Dollar General.

He expressed concern that the presence of the store would cause people to walk on Route 5, which is busy with fast moving traffic and isn't well lit at night.

"Let's at least get that section in and then figure out how to get that extra 100 feet in," McCullough said.

At that point, Hamula said he was amenable to working something out.

The store will be 7,100 square feet and will become the seventh Dollar General in Genesee County.

McCullough said in his informal survey of East Pembroke residents, people are excited about the potential of the store opening.

Owner of tiny house in Pembroke plans to turn it into a bed and breakfast

By Howard B. Owens


Heather Adams of Pembroke lived in this tiny house on wheels for a year and a half before buying a bit of land that already had a house on it so now she would like to rent it out as a bed and breakfast room during the summer.

To do that, Adams had to request a temporary use permit.

Thre's no zoning regulation locally that handles tiny houses on wheels.

"Tiny houses are their own unique thing," Adams said. "They're not an RV; they're not a mobile home. They don't really fit any codes existing at this time."

If her experiment using it for a bed and breakfast unit is successful, the Town of Pembroke may need to come up with the appropriate zoning regulation to allow its use.

Last night, the County Planning Board recommended approval of the temporary permit.

Adams said she wants to set it up as a B&B on her South Lake Road lot so more people can experience tiny house living. 

"The plan is to rent this out as little B&B so people can learn about tiny houses and try it out for themselves," Adams said. "A lot of people see is such a small space and think 'I could never live in that,' but when you see how they're set up, they are there really nice.They make a great use of space and they're really liveable."

This tiny house (pictured) is actually split level. It's 8 foot by 24 foot with 200 square feet of livable space. Adams said she liked it because the bed was on the first floor so her dogs could sleep with her.

"I lived in another tiny house previously when I lived in Alaska and only had a bed upstairs and I had a ladder," Adams said. "And so I couldn't sleep with my dogs."

The tiny house movement began years ago, Adams said, when people wanted small, unencumbered, uncluttered spaces to live in but the places where they tried to build them would run into building code issues because they were so small. So people came up with the idea of putting them on wheels and then they were unregulated.

She thinks they really meet a need for people who want to live a simpler life.

"It's simple living," Adams said, "just really simple living. You don't have a lot of stuff so you don't have to spend a lot of time cleaning, your expenses are a lot less, and you can just spend much more time enjoying life."


Planners would like to see proposed Dollar General in East Pembroke fit with walkable community policy

By Howard B. Owens

A proposed new Dollar General store for East Pembroke should meet the goal of making the hamlet more walkable, according to county planners.

That would mean removing parking from the front of the building and bringing the structure closer to the sidewalk.

Last night, the County Planning Board approved the site review with that recommendation. It will be up to the Town of Batavia's Planning Board to decide whether to implement the recommendation.

Planning Director Felipe A. Oltramari explained that the Town of Batavia is adopting form-based planning as part of its comprehensive plan and has already adopted a policy that should help the town, which includes East Pembroke, become a walkable community. 

East Pembroke currently scores a 15 at and is considered car-dependent.

Since the policy is not yet part of the town's codes, the Planning Board could only make a recommendation and not take a stronger stand.

There are already six Dollar General stores in Genesee County.

This location will be on Main Road at Barrett Drive.

The developer is Zarembra Group Inc., based in Cleveland, Ohio.

The single-story building will be 9,100 square feet.

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