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August 18, 2021 - 12:19pm

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The Batavia Town Planning Board wants to see “a big idea” before passing judgment on developers David and Katie Ficarella’s proposal to construct what they are calling the Hickory Ridge Estates senior housing complex on the north side of Route 33 (Pearl Street Road), just over a mile west of the City of Batavia limits.

The Ficarellas, along with engineer John Schenne of Schenne & Associates, East Aurora, and general contractor Frank Lazarus of Lazarus Industries, Buffalo, appeared at the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday night to re-introduce their plan, which is estimated to cost $17 million upon full buildout.

The Lovers Lane Road couple, about 4 ½ years ago, presented a somewhat different idea - a 110-unit senior residential site, working with Calamar Enterprises of Wheatfield.  That failed to materialize, however, and they are back with a new plan that they hope to build in three phases.

While David Ficarella said he hoped the board would review the site plan of Phase 1 at this time – and deal with future phases later, Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski and Town Engineer Steve Mountain advised that the project needed to be submitted in its entirety.

“You can make it smaller if you want to later, but it’s better to do it all as a big idea,” Jasinski said.

Mountain concurred, stating that “the biggest thing that we need in order for the planning board to do a SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) is exactly what this project and any future phases entail.”

PRESENT THE PROJECT AS A WHOLE

“The site plan … is more than sufficient to bring to the planning board. What we need now is ‘What’s the concept on Phase 1? Phase 2, and where’s the off-site sewer going,” he added. “Any improvements that are part of the project now or in the future have to be identified so they can look at the project as a whole under the environmental review.”

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said he has received Ficarella’s application, but won’t be able to forward it to the Genesee County Planning Board until the entire subdivision process is complete.

Mountain noted that the planning board needs to see where public roads will be put in, the location of private roadway, plans for private sewer and connecting to public sewer infrastructure, along with information about traffic flow.

The Ficarellas said that Phase 1 will consist of the construction of 40 duplex rentals for tenants age 55 and over on 20.629 acres, located across from Donahue Road, and stretching west along the state highway. All of the units will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Phase 2 calls for an additional 10 duplex rental units on 7 acres just north of the first phase, beyond the National Grid right-of-way that has been identified as a future extension of the Ellicott Trail.

Phase 3 is construction of either rental or custom build homes on 40 acres – extending Donahue Road to the west end of Edgewood Drive, which is part of the Meadowbrook Estates development.

WETLAND MITIGATION REQUIRED

Schenne, who said he designed the Meadowbrook Estates subdivision for (the late) Gary McWethy about 15 years ago, explained that he is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to obtain wetlands permits as about 25 percent of the Phase 1 parcel is wetlands.

Currently, a pond exists on the site and two other ponds for stormwater will be created as required by state law to get a stormwater permit, he noted.

“We have to collect the stormwater, detain it, treat it and release it,” he said. “And we’re not allowed to do that in the wetlands.”

He said the Phase 1 site will drain to Route 33, where there is a large drainage channel along the road, and eventually all of the project ponds will be connected with underground storm pipes and drain tubing.

When asked if the units had basements, he said that would not be the case, adding that the site being flat and having a high groundwater table “really doesn’t lend itself to basements.”

Schenne said the proposal also includes about 3,000 linear feet of water line.

“Gravity sewers would connect through an adjacent property that Dave controls at this point – to the east – and connect to the Meadowbrook subdivision,” he said. “There’s a lift station there and our sewers would dump into sanitary sewers there and run through their lift station to get to the city treatment plant.”

ANOTHER ACCESS POINT ON EDGEWOOD

All utilities, cable television and telephone lines will be underground, said Ficarella, adding that he is working out the logistics with the utility companies and Spectrum.

“Everything is underway. We’re waiting to break ground as soon as we can,” he said.

Lazarus said his company will provide cold-rolled steel to be used to frame the units, instead of lumber, to help the developers keep construction costs “consistent.”

“We use this in the commercial environment .. extensive use in the multi-family and commercial side of things,” he said. “It does have all the engineering requirements for residential … and it doesn’t affect the comfort of the home in any way, shape or form.”

Concerning Phase 3, planner Paul Marchese questioned the plan to connect to Edgewood Drive, pointing out that there currently is only one entrance to and exit from the road.

“Gary (McWethy) was given the permission to expand to some of those but the requirement was that he had to put that point of egress unto (Route) 33 but it never happened,” Marchese said.

Schenne replied that it didn’t happen due to the exorbitant cost of putting in the roads and utilities, but things are different now.

“With this big development going here, the need for a secondary egress for emergency vehicles, plus the fact that we have a force main that we want to run across there, makes a lot of sense to connect this up,” he said, as he distributed a map of a site plan showing nine additional building lots at the west end of Edgewood.

FUEL STATION OR STORE ON SITE?

Jasinski said that there has been much discussion about extending Edgewood Drive, “but this is the first time that it looks like it’s going to happen.”

Ficarella mentioned putting a multi-use facility on 1.75 acres in the southwest corner of the Phase 1 development, possibly a fuel station or store. Currently, it is zoned Agricultural-Residential, and would need a special use permit.

He was advised to include that – as well as details about Phase 2 units as it pertains to the future Ellicott Trail extension -- in the site plan for the entire scope of the project.

“Again, you have to hone in on exactly what it is you’re going to build,” Mountain advised. “And once you know that, that’s when we can review everything.

“Essentially, you need a draft plat mat, so if there are going to be future public roads going to Edgewood, we need to see that layout. It doesn’t have to be a ton of engineering, but it has to be enough to know that it will work – and it all has to be laid out so we can review everything.”

Schenne said that he expects to have the requested drawings done by the planning board’s September meeting.

REALTY OFFICE SIGN APPROVED

In other action, planners approved placement of a sign and the site plan for Zambito Realtors to open an office in a house the company recently purchased at 8329 Lewiston Rd., across the street from Applebee’s.

Lang said the sign would be placed 36 feet from the road and out of the right-of-way, and the site plan meets all existing town zoning regulations.

Owned by Rita Zambito and her son, Mark, the agency has three other locations – the main office in Medina and offices in Lockport and Orchard Park. Rita Zambito said about seven real estate agents will be working out of the Batavia site.

The renovation project includes siding, windows and removal of a breezeway to make room for a handicap ramp. Future plans call for widening the driveway to allow for more parking.

Photo: Presenting the Hickory Ridge Estates development proposal to the Batavia Town Planning Board last night are, from left, David and Katie Ficarella, and John Schenne. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: Lovers Lane Road couple's senior housing development off Pearl Street Road is back on the table | The Batavian

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