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: [email protected]
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.