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town of batavia planning board

Stringham Drive residents sound off against Country Meadows mobile home park expansion

By Mike Pettinella
Jul 20, 2022, 9:33am

A proposal to expand the Country Meadows Manufactured Homes Community on Clinton Street Road in the Town of Batavia is not sitting well with the residents of nearby Stringham Road.

About 35 people -- the overwhelming majority of them owners of homes on Stringham Drive – turned out for a public hearing conducted by the Batavia Town Planning Board on Tuesday night at the Town of Batavia Fire Station No. 2 on Stringham Drive.

Following a brief presentation by Glenn Thornton, an engineer representing Country Meadows’ owner Jeffery Cook, attendees peppered the planning board with several questions, focusing on the following issues:

  • The width of a buffer zone between the expansion and Stringham Drive;
  • The possibility of an emergency access road into the mobile park expansion from Stringham Drive;
  • The expansion’s effect on home property values;
  • Stormwater runoff mitigation;
  • The impact of the expansion on the environment and wildlife;
  • Increased traffic in the area.


Thornton, making his second appearance in front of the planning board in the past four weeks, said the plan is to take a 30-acre portion in the northwest quadrant of the park’s 75 acres and develop 76 more mobile home lots.

Currently, the park consists of 174 mobile homes with about four lots per acre, Thornton said. The proposal calls for two and a half lots per acre, and would include extensions to existing roads in the mobile home park that, according to Thornton, would be “privately owned and maintained – total compliant, private roads.”

“We propose to extend water mains and sanitary sewers so every lot will be served with municipal sewer and water,” he said, adding that lighting would be installed at the new intersections and at the end of the road.

Thornton also said that the expansion would include three stormwater ponds to capture and treat all stormwater runoff from the development area to satisfy state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations.

Property owner Cook said that the new mobile homes for sale would cost in the $80,000 to $120,000 range and that about 80 percent of those would be “double-wide” with paved driveways.


Judy Schildwaster, a longtime resident of the mobile home park, opened the public hearing by expressing her dismay with the lack of upkeep of the roads and tree trimming.

“This is the ninth owner since 1990 … and I see no improvement,” she said, adding that she doesn’t know the name of the property manager. “I’d like to see them come down and fix what they already own before they put in something new.”

Her statement drew a round of applause and opened the door for the Stringham Drive residents to pose their questions to the board and the developers. Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski indicated that the questions would be addressed after everyone had a chance to speak.

Jeff Anders asked if they would be putting a berm up “to hide your eyesore from the rest of the neighbors” and also if there was a plan in place to address the decrease in Stringham Drive homeowners’ property values (prompting more applause).

He then asked those in attendance if they were in favor of this and received a resounding “No.”

James Myers said he heard there would be an access road from the mobile home park to Stringham Drive for emergency vehicles and wanted to know what would prevent people from using it to get into the park?

Roger Bickle said there is an open field behind his house and asked what “would be put in there so we don’t have to look at that?”

Daniel Edwards sought to find out how many feet the expansion will come within the Stringham Drive back yards, and if the woods would remain or be taken down. He also asked questions about water and sewer drainage, wildlife and home values.


“Respectfully, homeowners don’t want to live next to a mobile home park,” he said. “This will disrupt the beauty of living out in the town, on a dead-end street, with woods behind me. I have privacy – and now, I will be staring at mobile homes when I look out my back windows.”

David Sprung, who said his lot is the “lowest on the road,” said he was concerned about flooding, noting that he bought his lot with the understanding that it was wetlands and would never be developed.”

He said he figures this expansion is a “done deal” but asked the developer to consider the drainage issues.

Sprung also said he would oppose an emergency access road next to his house since it would likely be used by bicyclists and others looking for a short cut through the park or onto Clinton Street Road.

“It’s a pretty quiet neighborhood right now and I’d like to keep it that way,” he said.

Jasinski, responding to questions about starting date of the project, said, “We can’t tell you that now because we just started looking at the project.”

“It’s not approved (yet) … we’re going to work on it to make it the best project for everybody.”

Robert Rindo said he opposed an access road and believed that the increase in the number of cars would be a major problem.

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said his department conducts annual inspections and additional inspections when receiving complaints. He did say that Country Meadows was “the best kept (mobile home) park in the Town of Batavia right now.”


When given a chance to respond, Thornton emphasized that there are no plans to add an access road from Stringham Drive into the expansion.

“That’s not on our agenda right now,” he said, but added that they may be forced to put one in for emergency purposes (per a recommendation from the Genesee County Planning Board).

Thornton said his plan includes a 50-foot buffer zone from the Stringham Drive lots – up from the current 35-foot setback – and will maintain existing drainage patterns and existing vegetation.

“We’re listening to you,” he said, noting that an extension of Briarwood Terrace would run over two 36-inch culverts to facilitate proper drainage. He also said traffic studies have been completed and he doesn’t see that there will be an overload to the current roads in the mobile park.

Jasinski said the planning board has many questions as well, and will perform a State Environmental Quality Review during a meeting in August. She invited residents to attend future meetings and to send her emails with additional questions or concerns to [email protected].

In another development, the board set a public hearing for Aug. 16 at the Batavia Town Hall on West Main Street Road to consider a pair of ground-mounted solar farms on Alexander Road.

Renewable Properties, working with Bergmann Associates engineering firm of Rochester, is seeking approval of special use permits to install a 14-acre, 3-megawatt solar farm on a 29-acre parcel at 9183 Alexander Rd. and a 10-acre, 1.6-megawatt system at 9071 Alexander Rd.

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

Two retail, restaurant buildings in former Kmart parking lot get final approval from town planning board

By Howard B. Owens
May 18, 2022, 4:00pm

After Town of Batavia Planning Board members gave the final approvals to Benderson Development for two new commercial buildings in the former Kmart parking lot on Lewiston Road, they had but one question: "who is it?"

The rep from Benderson wouldn't say.

He said he couldn't release the names until leases are signed. He said that lease signing could come soon for at least one potential tenant, with construction to begin on that building in July.

Benderson is planning:

  • A 4,000-square-foot restaurant with a drive-thru and bypass lane to be located in the southwest corner of the property;
  • A 6,752-square-foot retail/restaurant building with a 2,000-square-foot endcap coffee shop with drive-through in the southeast corner of the property.

On Tuesday, the planning board approved the project's environmental review, special use permit for a drive-through, and site review plan.  With those final approvals, Benderson is ready to sign agreements with the intended tenants of the buildings.

Before the vote on the special use permit, Chairwoman Kathy Jasinski noted that the only opposition had come from pizza shop owner Jerry Arena, who objected to the entire project.  She said it was her understanding that Arena had modified his position and town engineer Steve Mountain said that is correct. 

"He's not here tonight so I'm assuming that he's okay with that," Jasinski said. "So we really don't have any opposition." 

UPDATE: Jerry Arena said he was not aware of the meeting and that his position hasn't changed at all.  He still opposes the project.

Town planners approve additions at O-At-Ka Milk, Gateway GS LL site on Call Parkway

By Mike Pettinella
Apr 20, 2022, 10:30am

The Town of Batavia Planning Board on Tuesday night approved site plans for additions at O-At-Ka Milk Products on Ellicott Street Road and to buildings under construction by Gallina Development of Rochester at the Gateway GS LLC site on Call Parkway, north of the Thruway interchange.

Kelly Finch, senior director of engineering and operational technology at O-At-Ka Milk, explained that the project involves “increasing the plant’s capacity by fully utilizing what is there.”

Specifically, O-At-Ka Milk plans to construct a 58- by 70-square-foot addition that includes three storage tanks for the company’s growing alcohol-based beverage operation.

Finch said one of the tanks measures 15 feet high by 8 feet in diameter and the other two measure 28 feet high by 12.5 feet in diameter. The addition is to be placed on the south side of the property, which spans the corner of Ellicott Street Road and Cedar Street.

Rod Ives, civil engineer for Napierala Consulting of Syracuse, shared that the addition will go in an area that currently is paved, resulting in no stormwater runoff.

The planning board conducted a State Environmental Quality Review and found no adverse effects before voting in favor of the site plan.

Following that, the board voted favorably on the SEQR and site plan submitted by Gallina Development to change the square footage of two office buildings under construction.

The first would increase from 22,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet and the second would go from 27,000 square feet to 33,600 square feet. A third building, designated for future construction, will be reduced from 27,000 square feet to 17,400 square feet.

Overall, the total area of development originally approved – five building lots -- would remain at 135,000 square feet.

Lewiston Road pizzeria owner speaks out against plan to place retail businesses on former Kmart parking lot

By Mike Pettinella
Apr 19, 2022, 8:47pm

Calling it “a horrible idea,” Batavia businessman Jerry Arena tonight urged the Town of Batavia Planning Board to turn down a proposal by Benderson Development LLC to construct two restaurants on the parking lot of the former Kmart on Lewiston Road.

Arena was the lone town resident to speak at a public hearing on the Buffalo-based company’s request for special use permits for the drive-thru lanes of the yet-to-be disclosed retail operations. The planning board made it clear prior to the meeting that no action would be taken on the venture tonight.

Benderson is looking to build a 4,000-square-foot restaurant with a drive-thru and bypass lane at one end of the parking lot and a 6,752-square-foot retail/restaurant building with a 2,000-square-foot endcap coffee shop and drive-thru at the other end – both along Lewiston Road (Route 63).

Matthew Oates, engineering director, and Katherine Rowe, design engineer, for Benderson Development opened the meeting by giving a quick update on the company’s plans, mentioning an increase in the green space and landscaping, putting in new curbing and pavement, updating utilities and ensuring sufficient stacking space in the drive-thru lanes.

They said they are waiting on the completion of a traffic impact study – information necessary to keep the project moving forward.

Arena questioned if there would be enough parking spaces left over to accommodate shoppers once another business was found to occupy the former Kmart building.

After that, he was given the podium and articulated his concerns for about 15 minutes, visibly upset but able to keep his anger in check.


Armed with several documents, including the project application, Arena said “the mere fact that I got one (a notice of the public hearing) represents the fact that this special use permit affects my property at 8360 Lewiston Road (Jerry Arena’s Pizzeria) and my neighbors – the gun store, the car dealership, Calvin Nichols, the land that I have on Arena Parkway facing Lewiston Road.”

“I just shake my head when I see this and I'm trying not -- if I act like I'm going to be angry, if I'm perceived as I'm angry, it's because I really am. I'm just flabbergasted that this would get this far.”

Arena, citing an already congested traffic area and safety concerns, said that putting these new businesses at the front of the parking lot affects all residents of the town and city of Batavia and Genesee County.

“It affects them when they do their holiday shopping,” he said. “People who I talk to logically, and I say logically, assume that these three new businesses … it’s two buildings, three businesses. They logically assume that when the hear the news, they’re going to go into the old Kmart, which would be the best spot for them.”

He went on to say that he doesn’t “feel sorry for Benderson” because they can put the businesses in (the Kmart building).

“I don’t care how much it costs them and I don’t care if they’ve got to knock part of Kmart down and build a drive-thru,” he said. “This is what most people think – that it’s going to go into the old Kmart.”


Arena said the special use permit creates problems on several levels – “and I don’t even know where to start.”

“My main theme here is at what point do we stop creating and compounding traffic flows on Lewiston and Park roads?” he asked. “Surrounded by traffic flow problems with no sidewalks, this area of Lewiston and Park road will become more dangerous than ever for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.”

He said planners from years past “got it right” by wanting to place commercial enterprises onto Route 5, a four-lane highway.

“Well, things got turned around and OK, here we are,” he said. “There's big problems. I'm afraid to go down Park Road at night because one day I'm a law-abiding citizen and somebody might jump out at me from Batavia Downs and I'm sitting in my attorney's office facing a vehicle manslaughter charge.”

Arena said the entrance of the new businesses will come out onto Park Road – “as if Park Road isn’t a problem already.”

Noting that he has “a front seat” when looking out his pizzeria window, Arena said traffic is non-stop.

“You want to have a flea market, you want to put something next to my pizzeria, they don’t stop. They stop when the light turns red at Park Road and then you’re going to have to scoot out, because the light is going to change again. So, that’s my key thing here.”

He said that if and when Kmart is occupied again, the entrance and exit points on Lewiston and Park road “will not safely, safely, safely or adequately handle the additional 10,752 square feet of retail space.”


Arena said that as with an eminent domain situation, if planners have other options, “you’d think you’d want to use them.”

“Why can't you fill the Kmart … Batavia is really sought after right now,” he offered. “Batavia is a hot commodity between Buffalo and Rochester; people will come to Batavia.”

He also suggested placing the restaurants in areas where special use permits aren’t necessary, mentioning the Kmart building, property on Route 5 and land that he has for sale at the BJ’s Plaza on the south side of Lewiston Road.

Arena called out “the internet cowards” who say he is worried about competition.

“Oh, that’s really funny,” he said. “I’ve been in business since 1976. I’m not worried about another commercial business. I'm worried about the government more than anything. The government can put me out of business and they seem to be working at it.”

He said the “other swipe” at him is that he is mad because Benderson isn’t looking at the property he has for sale.

“My land for sale doesn’t need any zoning permit. It's at the intersection of Lewiston Road and Veterans Memorial Drive. It's in the BJ’s Plaza,” he said. “All the traffic will be regulated by the traffic light. It’s visible from Lewiston Road -- part of the BJs Plaza. And it’s for sale and doesn't require any kinds of permits.”


Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski interjected that a traffic study will be available for review before the board’s next meeting, and stressed that safety is a concern.

Arena said his premise is based on the fact that the former Kmart building is available.

“You can sit here all you want and say, ‘Well, we're filling a vacant parking lot. No, no, the parking lot isn’t vacant, the building's vacant.”

He said he disagrees with Benderson’s position that the project will improve the area and won’t result in a substantial increase in traffic above present levels.

“I don't see how that's mathematically possible,” he said.

Reading from an report in the application, Arena asked, “Are there any pedestrian accommodations or bicycle routes available at or near the site of the proposed action? Check mark, Yes. I don't see any sidewalks bicycle routes. Maybe I'm missing them. Maybe Matthew (Oates) can show me where he bicycle routes are."

“I see babies – two in one day. One in a wagon, getting pushed in the street and one in a stroller. And then you get your handicapped people. They’ve got their flags, and they’re driving their little thing. The mailman has got to be afraid of getting hit. At what (point) do we stop compounding? We've got a problem there.”

Arena said if Panera Bread, Popeyes or Starbucks want to locate in the town, there are spots for them other than the proposed site.

(A call and email to James Boglioli, Northeast director, right to build for Benderson, seeking the names of the businesses were not returned at the time of the posting of this story).


While hoping that the planning board votes against issuance of the special use permits, Arena said that he is prepared to take legal action to try and stop the project.

“There's a possibility that if you go through with this, I will file an injunction,” he said. “I've done it in the past and am familiar with that -- with Benderson putting BJ’s Plaza in a residential area, I fought it. I fought the good fight. I lost.”

He said he cares about the citizens of Batavia and reiterated that “it’s just a bad idea.”

Contending that zoning codes were adopted “with the purpose of protecting and promoting public health and safety," Arena said he believes his lawyers would have a “pretty good shot” at stopping the proposal.

In closing, he said he “hates to see this happen when there are other options.”

“Let's make Batavia safe again. Get your ducks in a row,” he said. “If you do issue a permit, get sidewalks. People walking down to Walmart, any of those things. It's a nightmare. It's got to be the worst commercial development possibly in the whole Western New York, if not the whole New York. It’s dangerous.”

Photos from tonight's Town of Batavia Planning Board public hearing at the Batavia Town Hall on West Main Street Road. Top: Jerry Arena, owner of Jerry Arena's Pizzeria on Lewiston Road since 1976. Bottom: Matthew Oates and Katherine Rowe of Benderson Development. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Previously: Benderson director gives some details, but keeps the names of the Kmart parking lot tenants to himself

Benderson director gives some details, but keeps the names of the Kmart parking lot tenants to himself

By Mike Pettinella
Mar 15, 2022, 11:03pm

Taking the lead from Chairperson Kathleen Jasinski, the Batavia Town Planning Board tonight set a public hearing for April 19 to consider a special use permit for the drive-thru lanes of Benderson Development’s proposal to place two restaurants on the parking lot of the former Kmart off Lewiston and Park roads.

“This is exciting to all of us,” Jasinski said about the Buffalo-based developer’s plan to construct a 4,000-square-foot restaurant with a drive-thru and bypass lane at one end of the parking lot and a 6,752-square-foot retail/restaurant building with a 2,000-square-foot endcap coffee shop and drive-thru at the other end.

Jasinski then turned the floor over to James Boglioli of Buffalo, an attorney for Benderson and a right-to-build director for the Northeast United States.

Boglioli said that a tenant has signed a lease for the endcap coffee shop and another business is close to signing a lease for the smaller restaurant.

He reported that Benderson plans to pave the parking lot, put in new striping for the parking spaces, improve the stormwater system and add much-needed green space to the lot.

“There will be significant improvement to the site … it will be much more attractive,” he said.

When Jasinski mentioned that “it sounds like you know who’s going in there,” Boglioli said he does know, “but if I say it, then I’ll get in trouble when I get back (home).”

He did say that the businesses will operate seven days a week (which eliminates Chick-Fil-A from the discussion), primarily during breakfast and lunch hours.

Boglioli said he foresees no issues with vehicles stacking out of the parking lot and onto either Lewiston or Park, and doesn’t expect any problems with overflow parking from Batavia Downs Gaming since there are plenty of spaces on the lot.

As far as the Kmart building which has been vacant for three years, he said Benderson is “marketing the building all over the country.”

“We’re not going to get that size retailer coming in; it will be different in the future … and will be consistent with the parking,” he said, prompting comments from planning board members that the large Kmart building could be subdivided into several businesses.

The board declared itself as the lead agency for the project and set the public hearing for April 19. Boglioli was asked to come back at that time to provide further information, such as traffic flow studies and signage needs.

In other developments, Town Building Inspector Dan Lang reported the following:

  • O-At-Ka Milk Products will present its plan, also on April 19, for a 3,200-square-foot addition at its Cedar Street location.
  • The Batavia Town Board on Wednesday will vote on a rezoning request to change a segment of the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park on East Main Street Road from Commercial to Industrial Park – making the entire park an IP district.
  • The Town Board supports Genesee County Planning Board’s plan to eliminate smaller projects from its jurisdiction, handing them back to the local municipalities.  “We’ve been seeking autonomy for years,” Lang said.
  • The trees of many solar farms in the Town of Batavia are dying off, leaving them without the proper screening as stipulated in the solar ordinance. Lang said solar companies are being contacted to correct the situation and, for the most part, are being responsive.

Previously: Planners on board with Kmart parking lot project; still no word on what businesses will occupy the space

Previously: Developer proposes retail/restaurant businesses on former Kmart property along Lewiston Road

Town planners OK lighted signs for City Mattress

By Mike Pettinella
Feb 16, 2022, 2:10pm

The Batavia Town Planning Board on Tuesday night quickly approved a request by Yost Neon Display, Inc., of Buffalo to erect two lighted wall signs on the City Mattress warehouse and distribution center at 7999 Call Parkway.

Placement of the signs – one of them is 6 feet by 16 ¾ inches and the other is 6 ½ feet by 39 ¾ inches – previously was recommended for approval by the Genesee County Planning Board and meets all Town of Batavia zoning codes.

Board members reported that the next Town of Batavia solar committee meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road. The agenda will focus upon final revisions to the town’s solar ordinance.


Town of Batavia to put pressure on solar firms to maintain proper screening; committee meeting set for Thursday

By Mike Pettinella
Sep 22, 2021, 10:35am

Not looking to branch out into the landscaping business, the Town of Batavia is taking steps to put the onus on solar companies to make sure their community solar projects are maintained and screened according to signed agreements with the town.

“We want to be green friendly but also want those who we do approve to stand up for exactly what they told us and informed us they would do,” said Town Building Inspector Daniel Lang at Tuesday night’s Town of Batavia Planning Board meeting at the Town Hall on West Main Street Road.

After hearing about modifications being made to the proposed Trousdale Solar twin 5-megawatt and 4-megawatt projects on Ellicott Street Road, one of them which addressed buffering the site from neighbors’ views, the board heard an update from Lang about issues at current solar farms.

Lang brought up the possibility of requiring solar companies to sign a landscaping bond, which would make them legally responsible for initial planting and regular maintenance of trees, berms and plants to ensure proper screening.

“It’s a code enforcement nightmare to maintain and ride around and figure out how many trees, what trees are dead, what trees are dying, when the best time to plant is,” he said, advising that the town’s solar committee will be meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Town Hall to address these and other topics as it moves toward adopting a new solar ordinance.

He said a landscaping bond could be a way to solve the problem of unscreened solar sites by giving the town the necessary leverage.

“Right now, we don’t have the teeth other than letting them (solar companies) know that we’re going to pull their certificate of occupancy, certificate of compliance or shut them down,” he said.

Lang said Thursday’s meeting, which is open to the public, is expected to include representatives of the Wendel engineering firm, New York State Soil and Water Conservation and, possibly via Zoom, Ian Latimer, project manager for NYS Energy Research and Development Authority.

Currently, town employees have been dealing with plantings and stone issues at a few solar farms, Lang said.

Planning Board member Steve Tanner suggested requiring a special use permit for future projects, with Lang noting that could be an option.


Mark Sweeney of Albany, attorney for the Trousdale Solar venture on property owned by Planning Board member Don Partridge on Ellicott Street Road, provided an update on changes in two areas: the number of poles on the site and what he called “enhanced landscaping” measures.

Partridge recused himself from the conversation; no voting was conducted.

“We’re here basically to talk about how we’re trying to satisfy the conditions of approval for the project that you gave previously … in March or April 2020,” Sweeney said.

On the first modification, Sweeney (photo at right) said the goal is to ground mount as much equipment as possible. After meeting with and obtaining approval from National Grid, he proposed a plan showing a total of four poles.

Originally, the design had seven poles, he said, three to handle solar company Cypress Creek (Renewable’s) equipment and four for National Grid’s equipment.

Since then, developers were able to ground mount “both of the mutes – one for Cypress Creek and one for the utility company – and eliminate one pole altogether,” Sweeney said.

As far as screening is concerned, he said landscaping is proposed at the entrances and across any current gaps between trees, and a one-foot berm will be used to elevate the plants. He said the revision includes a “specific planting plan” outlining the types of species, sizes and numbers – with the company obligated to replace plants as needed.

Sweeney also said the solar company is willing to agree to a decommissioning bond (to be in force at the end of the project’s cycle). Lang advised him to work with Town Attorney Andrew Meier on completing the proper form.

Tanner said he supported decreasing the number of poles to four, although planners were hoping that number to drop to three.

“It’s definitely a good reduction,” he said. “Much better than it was.”


Lauren Rodriguez, civil engineer with LaBella Associates, and John Johnston, vice president of New York Bus Sales, opened the meeting with a brief presentation of the school bus company’s plan to place a 20,000-plus-square foot facility at the corner of West Saile Drive and Call Parkway.

The operation is set to be built on two parcels, covering 6.9 acres, in an area currently zoned both Industrial and Commercial. Rodriguez said they wish to combine the parcels into one Commercial zone, which does fit into the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

Details of the site plan are as follows:

  • Three entrances – two off of West Saile Drive and one off of Call Parkway, with passenger vehicles (employees and others) to use the eastern entrance off West Saile Drive; bus deliveries and tractor-trailers heading for the loading dock would use the other entrances.
  • The area around the building will be paved; the area used for parking of the buses will be gravel.
  • The site will accommodate 20 passenger vehicles and 180 buses.
  • Security lighting will be installed, along with a fence around the property and gates at the entrances. The stormwater facility will be located at the south end of the lot.

Johnston, who gave a more extensive report to the Genesee County Economic Development Center on Sept. 9, said NY Bus Sales receives school buses from the factory, prepares them, adds options if required and then – after inspection by the state Department of Transportation – delivers them to local school districts.

Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski advised them the board will take up the matter again next month to review the site plan and conduct the State Environmental Quality Review.

Prior to that, the proposal will be heard by the Genesee County Planning Board and be the subject of a public hearing held by the GCEDC, which is offering $430,120 in tax abatements.

The company’s total capital investment is estimated at $4.5 million. The project is expected to create 24 additional full-time equivalent jobs paying $30,000 to $75,000 annually by year three.

Previously: GCEDC board of directors accepts application for New York Bus Sales facility in Town of Batavia

Photo at top: Town Building Inspector Daniel Lang at Tuesday night's Town Planning Board meeting. Photo by Alecia Kaus.

Have an issue? Town planning board opens a slot for public comments at its meetings

By Mike Pettinella
Apr 21, 2021, 1:00pm

The Town of Batavia Planning Board will be adding a “public comments” segment to its meetings, which generally are scheduled for the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

In response to Planning Board Member Don Partridge’s inquiry into the procedure for conducting an annual review of Area 51 Motocross, a businesses that has been granted a special use permit, the board Tuesday night agreed to give residents time at the beginning of each meeting to bring up pertinent issues.

Town Building Inspector Dan Lang said he spoke with the town’s attorney and supervisor, and both men recommended that the planning board not schedule a public hearing for special use permit reviews, but to offer “an open period for any comments, questions or concerns.”

Lang said that yearly reviews of operations with special use permits are conducted along with the fire inspection of the facility. He then suggested to Chair Kathleen Jasinski to “get on your agenda as open for public comments on every agenda.”

Jasinski said she wouldn’t want to see 10 people unannounced at every meeting, but the board didn’t think there would be that many and felt it important to give a forum for town residents as all meetings are open to the public.

It was noted that the Batavia Town Board (as well as the Batavia City Council) includes a public comments period at their meetings.

Planning Board Member Paul Marchese suggested a five-minute public comments section at the start of their meetings.

“It’s really not going to be significantly taxing to any of us and we limit it to five minutes,” he said. “I think we really want to be as transparent as we can in these wonderful times that we live in. To me, I feel it is part of our duty to listen to the people that we represent.”

In other action, the planning board:

  • Tabled a site plan review and special use permit request by Batavia Solar LLC, which is seeking to install a ground-mounted solar system for the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp. on R. Stephen Hawley Drive, across from Genesee Community College.

The board declared itself as the lead agency for the project and also approved a conditional negative declaration for the State Environmental Quality Review. Conditions on the SEQR center upon proper screening of the system from a neighboring couple’s home and from the roadway.

Planners advised Jim Taravella, representing LaBella Associates, to provide visualizations of the layout, showing five- and 10-year projections of the site based on screening growth, and asked the consulting firm to limit the number of utility poles.

  • Scheduled a public hearing for May 4 in connection with a special use permit referral from COR Development to add a drive-thru to an existing commercial building at 4222 Veterans Memorial Drive. The space, formerly used by Metro Mattress, will be the site of a new Chipotle restaurant.
  • Learned that on May 17, the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals will consider an area variance request by Dickinson’s Auto, 4028 W. Main Street Road, as part of a plan to construct a new truck storage building.

Planners seek specifics about schedule, noise abatement as they contemplate Harloff Road shooting range plan

By Mike Pettinella
Apr 7, 2021, 4:55pm

Town of Batavia Planning Board members concur that details – not conceptual drawings, ideas or generalities – ultimately will determine the course of Brandon Lewis’ request for a special use permit to develop an upscale shooting club, along with other entertainment options, on a 22-acre parcel at 3269 Harloff Rd.

On Tuesday night, planners posed several questions to Lewis, owner of The Firing Pin in Bergen, and Matthew Hume, a Batavia architect who drew up the site plan on property not far from Area 51 Motocross and the New York State Thruway.

Lewis kicked off the Zoom meeting with an overview of his plan and ended it – about 50 minutes later – by agreeing to provide specific information pertaining to hours of operation, the level of target practice, and safety measures prior to an April 20 public hearing on the matter.

It was the second time Lewis appeared before the board. He spoke briefly about the project last month following a presentation of his proposal to the Genesee County Planning Board.

Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski advised Lewis that the board and other town officials have received numerous letters from residents about the plan – with some for it and some against it. She said that safety and noise are two of the major concerns.

Along those lines, planner Paul Marchese said it was imperative that Lewis give board members as many details as possible – the who, what, where, when, why and how – in order for them to make the best decision for the town and its residents.

'Carte blanche' is not an option

“You’re going to have to have some defined tasks – for approval or disapproval,” Marchese said. “We can’t give you a blanket, do what you want out there. From your wide scope events, I wouldn’t feel comfortable just giving you carte blanche approval on something that’s not defined – especially for a special use permit.”

Marchese said Area 51 has a set schedule and there isn’t much latitude when it comes to special use permits.

“I think it’s an interesting concept (but I’m) concerned about continual firearms – it’s pretty loud,” he said, also wanting to know what type of guns will be allowed. “I can understand why the neighbors would be concerned.”

Prior to Marchese’s comments, Lewis touted his “professional approach” to the venture, noting that he and his staff have the qualifications and experience to run a safe and successful shooting range. His plan also includes a small drive-in theater and RV park (primarily for overnight guests) and having the property serve as an event venue for concerts and car shows, for example.

Lewis said he believes that the layout and topography of the land, with its hills and berms, are a good fit for the shooting range, which would serve law enforcement personnel, club members and the general population.

“Another (thing we could provide) would be paintball,” he said. “With 22 acres, the way the land is situated, we could easily run paintball out there with the board’s approval. It’s easy to set up – nothing to construct or build – other than the blow up areas that people use for that type of activity.”

Hours of operation a bone of contention

That all seemed well and good to the board, which turned its focus to shooting days and times as well as noise mitigation after Lewis proposed being open seven days a week – possibly from dawn to dusk.

“We’re looking at a mixed model of operation. We’ll be a private club; the shooting range will be a private club,” Lewis said. “Our intent is Monday through Friday during the work week (and) it will only be open to members. To be a member of the club, you have to take a very extensive safety class. You’ll essentially become an NRA (National Rifle Association) … certified range safety officer, and that covers a lot of information.”

Lewis said he would like to pattern the club after the privately owned Rochester Brooks in Rush.

He said the level of staffing would increase on the weekends, much like The Firing Pin.

“You would come down as a member of the public (with) quicker but still extensive safety briefing to get you up to speed,” he said. “When you’re out on the range shooting – under those circumstances -- there will be a range safety officers present within arm’s reach, monitoring everybody and keeping everybody safe.”

At this point, planner Paul McCullough asked about the normal operating hours.

A later start is a possibility

Lewis said that most people target shoot from dawn to dusk, but he would be open to starting later – maybe at 9 or 10 a.m.

“Depending on the interest and the activities that we’re doing, you’re right, it would probably be dusk – especially obviously in the winter months,” he said. “In the summer, we might push that back on certain nights. Doing trap or skeet, a lot of people work until four or five and couldn’t come out until seven or eight o’clock, and we would cut it off at whatever time is required.”

He did add that he would like to be open at night at different times to accommodate law enforcement and civilians who want to practice shooting with low-level light, using a flashlight or other device.

McCullough said his “concern” was the potential of seven days a week with up to 10 hours a day of potential gunfire.

“I would like to know exactly what days and what hours to inform the neighbors,” he said. “Just the constant noise, I think, will be my issue.”

Lewis said he will clearly define the night shooting, especially in the summer, and hoped to be able to schedule it in connection with Area 51 racing that currently is permitted to 11 p.m.

Noise level can be suppressed

“But that would certainly be limited – maybe twice a month. Another thing, going back to the range design, there’s a lot that you can do to try to keep the sound from property as much as you can with different landscaping and physical sound barriers,” he advised.

“As far the long distance ranges where you would be shooting the bigger firearms, there’s a very interesting technique … of using large tires, suspending them from an A frame and you almost make a suppressor outside out of tires … it knocks out a lot of the noise. We’ll have from various shooting positions with the larger firearms, will essentially be shooting from inside of a structure with sound proofing material that will help soak up a lot of that. We fully understand that noise will be a concern and we want to do what we can to alleviate that.”

Partridge then suggested limiting the hours to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

“If we go into that route of limiting your hours, how many times a month would you need, let’s say, to dusk -- twice a month?” Partridge said. “I could see allowing it during the weekdays (that) you’re going to go to dusk twice a month or once a month, but that has to be spelled out in your permit.”

Lewis said he would work with town officials to come up with a plan that works for everybody.

Logistically, Lewis said the land will be divided into several “bays,” taking advantage of the artificial hill that was made when Polar Wave tubing occupied the site.

“We’ll be enhancing with some ballistic rubber (that is) perfectly suitable to use on outdoor range,” he said. “It will make it much safer, increases our berm depth, makes it a much more consistent berm that you can shoot into – and it makes it much easier to clean, which is another huge concern of ours. Obviously, the remediation and keeping tabs on the lead to manage the property without hurting the environment (are important).”

He also pointed out the height of the berms (14 to 16 feet) as a positive thing, but acknowledged that having five different ranges – and modifications for competitions – bring about challenges in defining exactly where those target areas will be at various times.

What about existing gun clubs?

After Building Inspector Dan Lang mentioned that there are other shooting ranges in the Town of Batavia, Lewis asked if they were regulated by special use permits or “grandfathered in.”

Lang said the private club on Hopkins Road has been there for quite some time and wasn’t sure of the process used to sanction it.

“Trap shooting is what they focus on, and they also have private membership (with no limits on the type of firearms),” Lang said. “They’ve always had that set schedule, and we haven’t gotten any complaints. It’s gone through that cycle already.

“This being a new proposal, there is a lot more involved with it. Some of the tactical stuff and the training, I think is as important as anything. But would they be considered grandfathered in? Yes.”

Hume added that members of the Hopkins Road club can shoot anytime of the day, and noted that they schedule special events on specific days.

As far as Lewis’ proposal, Hume said that even though they may be open seven days a week, there won’t be shooting for 24 hours.

“Sometimes you get that guy that has a little time during the day … and I think that is what Brandon is trying to provide to his members as well. He doesn’t want to have to say you can only go there on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m., and that’s it,” Hume said.

The more information, the better

Town Engineer Steve Mountain reiterated the need for Lewis to be “as descriptive as you possibly can at this time on operations and how things are controlled.”

“The concept site plan layout is good but there is so much more information that the planning board is going to need before ultimately making a decision,” Mountain said.

Jasinski then advised Lewis to prepare for the April 20th public hearing, adding that no decision will be made at that meeting although all letters and emails sent to the planning board will be shared at the hearing.

“We will just listen to the comments and we will work as fast as you can get the information to us,” she said.

In the long term, Lewis said he would like to see the shooting range succeed and eventually find “another home for it” as the other uses at the venue take hold.

“I don’t want to say it’s a means to an end (as) the shooting range is where our base is and have the most support. I do see the need for it and certainly believe in it, and I do think the property is very well suited for it. So, I definitely see getting a lot of support from our already established customer base for that use,” he offered. “Again, maybe to help us develop a better one down the road and some of these other uses can really take over and use the property. I’d be completely fine with that.”

Previously: Planners pepper shooting range developer with questions about safety, noise, movie screen glare, berms

Previously: Developer: Outdoor shooting range, drive-in theater will offer 'healthy, family activity'

File photo: Brandon Lewis at The Firing Pin, 2018.

Town planners schedule public hearings on Ellicott Street Road solar projects for Jan. 19

By Mike Pettinella
Dec 15, 2020, 10:25pm

Residents on both sides of the fence concerning a plan to place two community solar projects on land owned by Donald Partridge at 5117 Ellicott Sreet Road will have to wait a bit longer to express their views in front of the Town of Batavia Planning Board.

Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski said several Ellicott Street Road residents – including some who spoke out at the Genesee County Planning Board meeting last week -- were ready to voice their opinions again at tonight’s meeting via Zoom videoconferencing.

Planners are considering a proposal to place a 5-megawatt solar farm on 18.2 acres of a 65-acre parcel and a 4-megawatt system on 19.6 acres of a 71-acre parcel of farmland off Route 63, southeast of the city.

“A lot of people were on the Zoom call but I told them they were not allowed to talk tonight, but will definitely have their chance at the public hearings next month,” Jasinski said.

The public hearings for the referrals, called Trousdale Solar I and Trousdale Solar II, are scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 19.

Partridge, a planning board member, has indicated that he would abstain from any voting on the project, which is being developed by Cypress Creek Renewables LLC.

Jasinski, when asked if she thought putting two nearly 20-acre solar arrays next to each other went against the town’s zoning limitation of 20 acres, said that she sees them as two separate entities as they are 50 feet apart and have separate power connections.

“The only thing they share is an access drive,” Jasinski said, “so I really believe they are two different projects.”

At the county planning meeting, Nancy Brach of 5168 Ellicott Street Road contended that two side-by-side solar farms, at almost 40 acres, went against the parameters of the zoning regulation.

In other action, town planners:

  • Put an application from LandPro to build a storage and maintenance facility at 4554 W. Saile Drive on hold while it reaches out to other agencies who may be interested in seeking lead agency status for the State Environmental Quality Review.

Jasinski said the town planning board wants to be the lead agency, but the scope of the project requires a coordinated review, possibly including the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Transportation, and Department of Agriculture and Markets.

“I will write to them to see if they want to be involved in this process,” Jasinski said, adding that the board pushed the site plan review back to its Jan. 19 meeting.

  • Will be seeking lead agency status for Rochester Regional Health’s plan to build a four-story, 140,000-square-foot medical office building at 8103 Oak Orchard Road (Route 98).

Jasinski said a public hearing for this referral is unnecessary since a special use permit is not required on property zoned Commercial.

She said the board will put this on the agenda of its Jan. 5 meeting, while the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals will consider an area variance due to the building height on Jan. 21.

Town planners seek revisions after opposition to solar farm plan for Galloway Road

By Mike Pettinella
Sep 17, 2019, 10:46pm

Several residents of Galloway and Lewiston roads in the Town of Batavia spoke out tonight against a plan to build a 19.8-acre, 4-megawatt ground-mounted solar system at 3565 Galloway Road, citing potential adverse effects on the environment, property values and the aesthetic benefits of rural living.

Bright Oak Solar LLC is proposing to place the solar panels on property in an Agricultural-Residential district owned by Wayne Dunham.

His neighbors who commented at a public hearing, attended by about 30 people prior to the Batavia Town Planning Board’s meeting at the Town Hall, didn’t see it as such a bright idea.

“It will be in my backyard and I’ll have to look at it,” said Brandon Miller, of Lewiston Road, who added that he would be hampered in a bid to sell his home. “It is right in the middle of almost two roads like that (with many houses). It’s ridiculous.”

Miller’s words were the first in a half-hour’s worth of remarks pointed at Tom Healy, project manager for Prowind Inc., the developer, and Daniel Yanosh, project manager with Hunt engineering out of Rochester.

Yanosh explained that the solar system would be placed on the southern part of Dunham’s property, facing Galloway Road (see diagram), with the land to the north remaining as agricultural acreage.

He said that a gravel access road would be installed, that the solar farm would be surrounded by a 7-foot chain link fence and that part of it would be screened by plantings and trees. He added that the plan calls for five utility poles (but planners later requested that number be reduced to three or four).

“The grading goes up and falls off, so you’re not going to see much of it from across the road,” Yanosh said. “It’s 300 feet off the road and with the natural topography, there will be minimal visual impacts.”

Mike Hall, who lives on Galloway Road, asked if developers considered moving it back further from Galloway, if an environmental impact statement had been done and who is going to benefit from this.

“Are we going to see any benefit from this? Where is the electricity going and who benefits from it?” he said.

Healey responded that developers strive to minimize the distance from the connection point (in this instance, on Galloway Road) and will be upgrading an existing gas track that runs from the road through the middle of the solar panel array.

“As far as who benefits, energy is exported to National Grid, and the state has a community solar (program), which offers a discount on your energy bill (to those who opt in to the program),” he said.

Linda Fox, of Lewiston Road, said she sees the solar farm as a disruption to her enjoyment of wildlife in the area.

“I’m totally against that,” she said. “I look outside and see deer, all kinds of animals … chipmunks, birds, everything you can think of. If he decides to do this, we might as well sell the house and go.”

Healey countered by saying that the project is at its maximum capacity, which is correct due to Town code restrictions.

But Hall said he wasn’t convinced of its value.

“Maybe in the future we could see some benefit from it, but I am concerned about the environmental impact. I’ve seen these things all over the United States, and they’re really ugly.”

Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski then noted that the board is charged with conducting a State Environmental Quality Review -- gathering information from the town engineer, project engineer, zoning officials and staff to make an informed decision.

Miller brought up the solar farm’s effect on property values. When asked if it was going to drop, Jasinski advised him to talk to his assessor, but also noted that there isn’t enough data in this area to make an accurate determination.

Hall, stating out loud that this is “probably a done deal,” said any impact upon assessments should be considered before approval of projects such as these.

Galloway Road resident Sonja Armbrewster requested that the developers add screening on the southeast portion of the system, which is near her property.

“It’s just off my backyard and all I will see is a bunch of solar panels,” she said. “Now, we’re able to look at deer and nature.”

Moments later, she too asked about the impact on property values, stating “these people are making a lot of money. Who is going to reimburse us?”

Tim Call, of Galloway Road, asked Yanosh about the construction involved.

“We drive piles into the ground. We’re not running concrete trucks like crazy and it’s a stone base,” Yanosh said. “There will be some deliveries but once it’s done, there will be only two or three trips per year. And when it’s decommissioned (put out of service in 25 years), it's back to farm land.”

Responding to a question from Hall about possible flooding, Yanosh said grass, pollinators and clover will be planted.

“This will provide a lot more vegetative uptake and slow that rush of water quite a bit,” he said. “That’s a benefit for the stormwater aspect.”

After all comments were heard, the board declared lead agency status for the SEQR, approving a negative declaration (no serious environmental impacts) but stopped short of voting on the special use permit and site plan.

Instead, acting on board Member Steve Tanner’s request, they asked Yanosh and Healy to come back to the Oct. 1st meeting armed with another visual assessment of the land, taking into account the calls for additional screening, reduction of the number of utility poles, decommissioning bond details and other information requested by the town engineer.

Upon exiting, Yanosh said they will add more trees to the southeast side.

In other action, the board asked representatives of Borrego Solar Systems LLC to provide more information as to how their plan to construct two 20-acre, 7.2-megawatt ground solar systems at 8050 Oak Orchard Road (Route 98) does not run contrary to the parameters set forth by the Town in connection to 600 acres earmarked as a Planned Business Development District.

Borrego is hoping to place the solar farm on land owned by Eric Saile, located north of the NYS Thruway interchange.

The board was looking to declare lead agency status for the SEQR review, but put that on hold after Town Engineer Steve Mountain brought up several points – farmland protection, archeological study, zoning inconsistencies – that need to be cleared up.

According to requirements of the PBD District, the minimum development size is 100 acres. This was set up by the Town to ensure large-scale commercial development that would benefit the municipality, preserve the agricultural land and avoid piecemeal projects that could hinder future marketability of the parcel.

Marc Kenward, senior engineer with Erdman Anthony, and Emilie Flanagan, project developer for Borrego, contended that their project is in line with Town code in that solar farms are allowed in all zoning districts by a special use permit and also is of a “temporary nature” in that the solar farm would be decommissioned in 25 years.

“I can see that a lot of commercial developments could come from this,” Flanagan said. “As we read it, the plan meets every detail of the (Town’s) Comprehensive Plan.”

Mountain acknowledged that since this is the first project submitted for the PBDD, it is “very unique” and could be open to interpretation. He urged the developer to take the time to provide more information, detailing how the plan fits in.

Flanagan agreed that more dialogue is needed and proposed a meeting with Town officials before presenting the new information at the board’s next meeting on Oct. 1.

Previously, the Genesee County Planning Board recommended disapproval of a special use permit and area variance based on the PBD District guidelines.

The matter will have to be addressed, once again, by the Town Zoning Board of Appeals, which doesn’t meet again until Oct. 21.

Unlike what transpired with the solar project on Galloway Road, no one spoke at a public hearing on this project prior to the board meeting.

Photos: Mike Hall, white shirt in center, makes a point during a public hearing tonight about a proposed solar farm on Galloway Road. Looking on are developers Tom Healy, left, and Dan Yanosh and Town Building Inspector Dan Lang (in orange shirt). Diagram shows Galloway Road at bottom and Lewiston Road diagonally. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Batavia-Elba Townline Road solar farm gets green light from planning board

By Mike Pettinella
Aug 20, 2019, 9:12pm

Genesee County is becoming a home away from home for representatives of Borrego Solar System LLC, of Lowell, Mass., and the Erdman Anthony engineering firm of Rochester, as more and more requests to build ground-mounted solar farms in this area pop up.

Emilie Flanagan, project developer, and Steve Long, civil engineer, of Borrego were joined by Marc Kenward, engineer from Erdman Anthony, tonight to once again pitch an 8.99-megawatt, 20.45-acre solar farm at 5230 Batavia-Elba Townline Road – farm land owned by Dan Underhill.

Flanagan and Kenward, for the second time in a month, outlined the proposal during a public hearing in front of the Town of Batavia Planning Board. While about 20 people attended the meeting, no one from the public commented on the plan.

After Flanagan repeated her point that the community solar project “feeds electricity back into the grid” and can provide discounts on electric bills to those signing up for the program, Kenward talked about areas addressed by Borrego to meet code and setback requirements.

Kenward said the proposed solar farm will have more frontage than required, is environmentally friendly, includes a 7-foot high chain link fence and, upon completion, will be shielded on one side by 250 6- to 7-foot high trees, split into two rows. Previously, they said the other side will be out of sight since it will be built down slope.

“During construction, there will be about 50 vehicle trips per day,” Kenward said. “Afterward, (there will be) no noise, no traffic and no nighttime lighting.”

The planning board voted unanimously in favor of three items -- seeking lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review (finding no significant impact on the surrounding area), a special use permit and the site plan.

Approval of the special use permit and site plan are contingent upon final review by town engineers, required plantings in front of the solar panels, filing of a decommissioning bond and addressing any glare issues, should they come up.

Underhill, who was present during the session, said that the solar farm enables him to “diversify a bit” by generating another source of income, but that he still has about 200 acres for farming.

The solar array will be placed on a 52-acre parcel, with 43,355 solar panels aligned in a fenced-in area of 19.94 acres with an additional half acre to be used for an access driveway. It also will include four utility poles.

In other action, the board approved, contingent upon final engineering review, a site plan for Provident Batavia LLC, doing business as SCP Distributors at 4430 W. Saile Drive, to build a 13,000-square-foot (160 by 82) addition, and a site plan for Mark Lewis to erect another freestanding sign at his State Farm Insurance agency at 8331 Lewiston Road.

Photo: Marc Kenward, engineer for Erdman Anthony, provides details of a solar farm project on Batavia-Elba Townline Road as Town of Batavia Planning Board members Lou Paganello, left, and Paul Marchese, and Town Building inspector Daniel Lang look on. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Dan's Tire owner looks to build storage facility on Route 98 south of city

By Mike Pettinella
Aug 7, 2018, 8:03pm

The Town of Batavia Planning Board has set a public hearing for Sept. 18 in consideration of a special use permit request by the owner of Dan's Tire & Auto Service Center in Batavia to erect a self-storage building on the west side of Route 98, about a couple hundred feet south of Rose Road.

Dan DiLaura and his towing manager, Steve Grice, outlined their proposal at the planning board's meeting tonight at Batavia Town Hall on West Main Street Road. The committee unanimously scheduled the public hearing, which is necessary because vehicles will be parked on the stone-covered grounds.

"Having a towing business, we must store vehicles from time to time due to an accident, DWI or abandoment, and the city says we need to have something fenced in," said Grice, adding that most of the cars are stored no more than a week, but on occasion a vehicle would be kept there longer due to an ongoing police investigation.

Grice said the building would measure 50-by-100-by-16 feet with two overhead doors, and would have two entrances and exits to make it easy for trucks to pull in and out. It also would have all utilities, a few outside lights, fully fenced and gated.

He said DiLaura would use the building for "personal storage" of race cars, towing equipment, tools, tires, etc., but it would not be used for any commercial repairs.

Currently, DiLaura is renting space behind the former Mazur's Auto repair shop on East Main Street in the city for this purpose. If the new building is approved, he no longer would use the Batavia location.

DiLaura said he would like to complete the project, which he estimated at $130,000, before winter.

The site plan is subject to review by the Genesee County Planning Board and approval by the Town Planning Board. Additionally, it must meet standards set by the Department of Environmental Conservation (concerning wetlands) and ensure proper stormwater drainage (depending upon the size of the build-out).

Grice said that BDK Construction of Basom, owned by Brian Kotarski, has been hired to construct the building.

McWethy looks to open bed & breakfast on Meadowbrook grounds off South Main Street Road

By Mike Pettinella
Mar 21, 2018, 12:12pm

Never one to settle for the status quo, longtime Batavia developer Gary McWethy has his sights set on converting the maintenance building for his 9-hole golf course into a bed & breakfast.

“That’s what I’d like to do, if certain things go right with the zoning, and I feel comfortable with it – that’s the direction I’m heading in,” McWethy said this morning, while giving The Batavian reporter a tour of the building.

On Tuesday night, he briefed the Town of Batavia Planning Board at its monthly meeting at Town Hall on West Main Street Road.

McWethy, 79, is the former owner of McWethy Construction and developer of Meadowbrook Estates in 1987 and Meadowbrook Golf Course in 1996. The upscale development sits off South Main Street Road and includes streets such as Woodland Drive, Edgewood Drive, Fairway Drive and Valle Drive.

The golf course is nestled between Valle and Woodland, and includes a two-story maintenance building (see photos above) that is in the process of being remodeled and updated for use as a three-bedroom bed & breakfast.

“It will be (done) in an Adirondack theme,” said McWethy as he shared stories of his hunting and camping experiences with his father, Vernon, and pointed out the numerous game trophies on the walls.

Entrances to the building are off South Main Street Road, passing by the homestead (built in 1852) where McWethy grew up – “I moved there in 1943 at the age of 4,” he said – and circling back to a peaceful, picturesque view of the Meadowbrook landscape.

McWethy said his goal is to maximize the potential for the golf course and give visitors a welcoming place to extend their stay.

“It hopefully will end up a three-bedroom bed & breakfast with an area to expand, and including an entertainment area, kitchen, laundry room and everything that goes with it,” McWethy said. “All would be on the lower level, with the primary owner, who is me, living in a small apartment upstairs.”

McWethy, who said he has built more than 70 homes over a long career, said he would like to finish the project – he plans to call it Meadowbrook Bed & Breakfast -- by the end of the year, and later hopes to add a gazebo and other amenities to the grounds.

It’s a large investment for McWethy, who said he has endured some financial challenges in connection with the development’s real estate as well as family tragedies in recent years.

Despite all that, the memories of his formative years at the site are motivating him to push ahead.

“My dad farmed the 35 acres here with a team of donkeys from 1943 to the late 1950s. We had a well down the road, and 30 to 40 sheep as well as cows, donkeys and horses,” he said. “I just love it here. When I get up in the morning, I can thank the Lord and walk out the door and close my eyes and remember where everything was.”

Town planners OK Big Tree Glen, Koolatron, soccer park expansions

By Mike Pettinella
Oct 18, 2016, 8:52pm

Expansion and improvement projects at the Big Tree Glen apartment complex on West Main Street Road, Koolatron on Commerce Drive and Batavia Sports Park on Bank Street Road received "green lights" to move forward Tuesday night (Oct. 18) from the Town of Batavia Planning Board.

At their meeting at Batavia Town Hall, planners gave their blessing to Conifer Realty LLC after reviewing the Rochester company's site plan for Phase II of the income-based complex at 3727 W. Main Street Road. The site plan approval is contingent upon Conifer meeting all engineering criteria and setting up agreements with the Town of Batavia in line with those already in place from Phase I.

According to Paul Marfione, project director for Conifer, Phase II development will consist of 40 apartments (eight one-bedroom and 32 two-bedroom), which would increase the total number of units to 96.

Occupancy eligibility is based on the median income in Genesee County, Marfione said. Of the 40 new units, 10 would be offered to those at 50 percent of the income level, 15 to those at 60 percent and 15 to those at 90 percent.

"The median income in Genesee is increasing," Marfione said, which enables Conifer to offer 15 apartments to those individuals and/or families with annual earnings closer to the county average ($64,500 for a family of four, for example).

Marfione said Conifer is hoping for New York State approvals within a couple months. An early approval from the state could lead to groundbreaking on the $9 milliion Phase II project in the spring of 2017.

Conifer, in partnership with United Memorial Medical Center, completed Phase I this summer.

Before the meeting, Kathy Jasinski, planning board chairperson, and Conifer executives conducted a tour of the facility (photo above). (Watch for more photos and a story in The Batavian on Wednesday).

Koolatron to construct 25,000-square-foot warehouse

Planners approved a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) and site plan for Mega Properties, or Koolatron Corp., to construct a 158-by-158-foot warehouse with loading docks and new driveway at its industrial park north of the NYS Thruway.

They had no issues with the Canadian-based firm's plan that includes area variances concerning the building's distance to the property line and lot coverage since they were both close to the town code requirements.

According to Gordon Pringle, Koolatron manager, said the nearly $1 million project will result in the addition of a few more jobs. Currently, the manufacturing and distribution business employs eight people.

Batavia Sports Park to install second driveway

Parents of the growing number of youth soccer players who compete at Batavia Sports Park on Bank Street Road will be overjoyed to learn that CY Properties (Batavia Turf Farms) plans to put in a second driveway before the start of the 2017 summer season.

"This will be a one-way in, one-way out" setup, said Chuck Hoover, sales manager for Batavia Turf Farms and liaison between the firm and the Batavia Soccer Club. "The traffic flow will be much safer, especially for those coming out of the park."

The new driveway will be situated closer to the intersection of West Saile Drive, near the company's maintenance building. As it stands now, cars are required to come in and exit via a narrow stone driveway across the street from New Hope Ministries.

Town planners approved the SEQR and the site plan, with the latter contingent upon engineering and design approvals by the town. They also are requiring CY Properties to obtain documentation from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) as to the project's impacts on archaeological resources.

Hoover said the town initially partnered with CY Properties in the venture, which currently has 12 soccer fields, by providing funding and other support, but is gradually reducing its involvement.

"That's one of the reasons we're looking to expand (the operation beyond summer soccer)," he said. "We've already hosted lacrosse tournaments and on Nov. 19 we will be hosting a flag football tournament with 20 teams. And we have an opportunity to land a couple of elite soccer tournaments that would have an economic impact of $400,000 to $500,000 over a two-week period."

Hoover said the project also includes adding a few more soccer fields and additional parking. He said the driveways would be blacktopped near the highway.

Town planners, Conifer clear the air over 'lack of transparency' at Big Tree Glen

By Mike Pettinella
Sep 21, 2016, 8:41am

The Town of Batavia Planning Board is claiming it was victimized by a “lack of transparency” during discussions with Conifer Realty LLC about the income levels for prospective tenants at the recently opened Big Tree Glen apartment complex at 3727 W. Main Street Road.

In a meeting with a team of Conifer officials Tuesday night, planners said they were led to believe that middle-income individuals and families would be able to rent the 56 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that were constructed as part of a joint venture by Conifer, a Rochester firm, and United Memorial Medical Center.

“This is not a medium-income (arrangement),” Paul Marchese said. “This is truly a low-income facility.”

Marchese said that planners were concerned over the impact upon the town and the Pembroke Central School District.

“There would be an influx of kids not paying into the tax base, and we were concerned about that. This is not what was portrayed. The transparency was not there and that is what bothered me the most.”

Conifer vice presidents Sandy Gorie and Cheryl Stulpin offered apologies for the miscommunication, but Gorie was quick to add that “this is not market-based housing.”

“We run into this challenge in all the communities we go to,” Gorie said. “It’s all public knowledge; we have to go through the state (Homes and Community Renewal).”

In Phase I of the development, 34 of the 56 units are being occupied by those making 50 percent of the county’s average median income ($64,500 for a family of four) and the other 22 are being rented by those at the 60-percent level.

For Phase II, which could see construction next summer pending funding approvals, half of the proposed 40 apartments would be rented to those at 90 percent of the AMI, while eligibility for the other half would be set at the 60-percent and 50-percent levels, said Paul Marfione, project director.

Gorie said the state is allowing Conifer to use the 90-percent criteria due to higher than anticipated income levels in Genesee County.

The planning board also brought up the fact that a sex offender was allowed to rent an apartment.

Gorie said her company screens 11,0000 applicants each year and this was only the second time that this happened.

“Management did make a mistake, the site staff alerted its supervisor, a termination notice was sent and the resident vacated the property,” she said. “Since then we have revisited our policy and will be submitting (screenings) through our compliance department.”

“It’s important that you know that Conifer is in this for the long haul. We’ve been doing this for 40 years.”

Following the meeting, Planning Board Chairperson Kathy Jasinski said she appreciated Conifer sending people with “such expertise to meet with us and answer all our questions.”

“I am comfortable with the project and look forward to Phase II,” she said.

In other action, the Planning Board:

-- Approved a site plan review for Oakfield Hospitality LLC, a company headed by Ash Patel that is getting ready to build a four-story, 64-room Fairfield Inn & Suites at Gateway I Corporate Park off Route 98 near the Thruway interchange.

“This is the final discretionary approval from the town,” said Sean Hopkins, of Williamsville, attorney for the developer, who also owns a Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn in the same vicinity.

Hopkins said engineers have determined that the hotel’s footprint will have to be moved 18-20 feet to the west to account for an 18-foot easement. This opens the way for a subdivision of the property, which would be subject to another review process.

Town Engineer Steve Mountain said concerns over traffic on Route 98 turning left into the industrial park have been alleviated thanks, in part, to an independent traffic analysis.

Patel said he hopes to have the hotel open next fall. He would not say whether he plans to build another hotel next to the Fairfield Inn, but is keeping his options open for “future development.”

-- Approved a state environmental quality review and site plan review for the 21,000-square-foot (140x150) L&M Specialty Fabrication metal fabrication facility at East Saile Drive and Bank Street in the Town of Batavia, contingent upon the settlement of a few engineering issues.

Contractor David Tufts said it will be a steel-frame building, with the main entrance off East Saile Drive. The owners, Lee Shuknecht and Matt Geissler, have purchased 300 acres and plan to situate the facility 480 feet west of the intersection.

Planners urged Shuknecht to plant some trees and consider landscaping.

“It’s a big project for us,” he replied. “We want to keep it looking nice.”

The manufacturing and repair business received a $200,000 loan from the Growing the Agriculture Industry Now fund to purchase equipment.

-- Approved a site plan review from East Saile Properties LLC to build a 2,936-square-foot addition to an existing tractor-trailer repair shop at 4736 E. Saile Drive in the Town of Batavia.

A SEQR was not needed because the owner produced a letter from the state Department of Environmental Conservation stating that the project would not disturb any nearby wetlands.

Town Planning Board identifies three key areas for Smart Growth

By Mike Pettinella
Jul 19, 2016, 9:27pm

Three parcels of land situated west and north of the NYS Thruway are keys to the Town of Batavia's future development, Town Planning Board members said Tuesday night as they forwarded a recommendation to the Town Board to place them in the "priority" category of Genesee County's Smart Growth Plan.

Town planners unanimously voted in a favor of a motion by Paul Marchese to move these parcels which had been "reserved for development" -- 500 acres behind the current Town Hall on West Main Street Road, 100 acres near Wal-Mart on Veterans Memorial Drive, and 600 acres owned by Gordon Offhaus west of Route 98 and north of Federal Drive -- to "priority development area" status for Smart Growth.

"These areas meet the comprehensive plan and our outlook on development, and being part of the Smart Growth Plan eliminates obstacles (to potential developers) and streamlines the process," said Town Building Inspector Daniel Lang.

Lang provided details about the three parcels as follows:

-- Called "Townville" by the planning board as they work through their meetings, the parcel behind the Town Hall is earmarked for a "Town Center" -- a mixed-use, high-density development featuring commercial and residential structures, including town houses. Form-based building codes are being used and a design is already in place.

-- The area near Wal-Mart already has generated a "high volume" of interest from commercial developers, and is enhanced by the fact that a portion of that site is part of the Smart Growth Plan.

-- The Offhaus property has been designated as a Planned Business Development (PBD) area reserved for a large-scale project.

In other aciton, planners:

-- Approved a site plan review for a 3,000-square-foot addition to the transfer station operated by the Genesee ARC at 3785 West Main Street Road.

According to Paul Saskowski, ARC director of operations, the facility -- to be called The One-Stop -- will be modified to feature drive-thru service and will offer trash drop-off, recycling and a redemption center, as well as secure shredding. He said the work will be done by D.A. Tufts Construction of Batavia.

-- Set a public hearing for Aug. 16 for a proposed Fairfield Inn on Federal Drive. The public hearing is needed since the developer, Oakfield Hospitality, LLC, is seeking to build the hotel in an industrial park. The final determination will be made by the Town Zoning Board of Appeals.

-- Approved a 42-inch wide by 60-foot long backlit sign for the new hotel at Batavia Downs Gaming. The sign will read "Hotel at Batavia Downs."

Gardner Estates will require more public input

By Brittany Baker
Apr 6, 2011, 6:58pm

Residents who live around Clinton Street Road will have another opportunity to make their case for or against the proposed Gardner Estates housing development that could end up in their neighborhood.

Odds are, residents will continue to oppose the project that they say could drastically alter the character of their community.

Refer to previous story here.

Another public hearing will be held at the next Town of Batavia Planning Board meeting on April 19 after the town board voted unanimously to reopen the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) for the project on Wednesday evening.

Members of both boards feel that two issues deserve further study -- the debate between a cul de sac or a new roadway and the possibility that the project could end up using public funds for low-income housing.

"We as a board feel that there will be adverse environmental impacts," Town Supervisor Greg Post said, agreeing with a previous decision from the planning board.

Planning Board declares Holiday Inn Express won't impact environment

By Brittany Baker
Apr 5, 2011, 10:52pm

The Town of Batavia Planning Board decided Tuesday that a proposed Holiday Inn Express would not have a negative impact on the environment if it were to be built next to the Hampton Inn on Federal Drive.

"What we did tonight was to say the project will not effect the community environmentally," board Chair Kathleen Jasinski said. "At our next meeting on April 19 we will review the site plan and see if they get ... permission to build the project."

Board members completed the mandatory State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) document with project architect Mark Tiedemann, of MWT Architecture, present to answer questions.

The SEQR document asks yes or no questions about whether the proposed project would negatively impact certain aspects of the environment such as bodies of water, endangered or protected species, etc. In this case, most answers were easily answered "no," according to Tiedemann.

One question was "Will the proposed action result in a physical change to the project site?"

Board Member Don Partridge suggested the answer be no and looked to the others for objections. When none were made, Partridge began to move on to the next question but was interrupted by attorney Thomas J. Warth, of Hiscock & Barclay, out of Rochester. Warth represents other local hotel owners who strongly oppose another hotel in what they claim is an already saturated market.

"It has a much larger footprint," Warth called out.

Board Chair Kathy Jasinski responded by saying that Warth's issue will be addressed when the board reviews the site plan later this month.

"This evening is on the SEQR and how it will react to the land and right now having a hotel where there has been a building already won't affect the land," Jasinski said.

When asked about the impact traffic, Tiedeman said developer Michael Patel had SRF Associates complete a traffic study. It concluded that a small to moderate impact on traffic could be expected, but mitigated by putting in a left-hand turn lane for Route 98.

The SEQR question regarding traffic impact was ultimately answered yes.

Another SEQR question was "Is there likely to be public controversy related to the potential adverse environmental impacts?"

Board members agreed that there most certainly would be public controversy because many community members have already voiced their opposition to the project as a whole. Hotel owners are concerned about the economic impact another hotel would have on their businesses.

Tiedemann politely argued, "Competition technically can't be a controversy related to any environmental impact. Environmental impact would be water, sewer, gas, traffic, any one of those."

Jasinski replied "Our board usually takes a stand on the side of our community and there will be a public controversy over this. I don't think we can ignore that fact."

Partridge documented on the SEQR that, "...the major controversy has been competition-oriented and is noted."

He added that personally, he didn't think it was a project-altering issue.

Jasinski concluded that every "yes" answer to an impact on the environment at the project site could be mitigated. She asked that the developer get in contact with the Department of Transportation about a possible turning lane on Route 98.

The motion was made by Partridge, and seconded by Board Memeber Paul McCullough, that a negative declaration is appropriate for this project. The board agreed unanimously.

Neighborhood squabbles surface at Batavia Planning Board meeting

By Brittany Baker
Mar 16, 2011, 11:48am

The Town of Batavia Planning Board meeting on Tuesday evening was crowded, with a turn out of more than 40 people.

Two neighborhoods were concerned about two agenda items -- Genesee Country Automotive on West Main Street Road and the proposed Gardner Estates housing development on Clinton Street Road.

Larry Abaire was there because he had reapplied for a special-use permit to continue doing business as Genesee Country Automotive on his property at 3282 W. Main St. Road. His permit was revoked by the board about six months ago.

A few neighbors at the meeting spoke in favor of Abaire and his neighborly qualities, willingness to compromise and business practices.

But one man had a completely different view.

Steve Licht has owned property bordering Abaire's on the west side for 31 years.

"Since the last millennium, I have had a junkyard next to my house," Licht said. "I've consulted the board regarding what defines a junkyard in this town and his property certainly meets the criteria."

He cited scraps of metal laying about, dismantled cars and trucks and an overall mess at the property.

"Continuing to reissue special-use permits is nothing more than giving license to continue this same mess -- and it is a junkyard," Licht said.

He questioned whether Abaire had a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) for the newer building on his property and claimed that business is, in fact, conducted inside.

Abaire said the building is used for storage and admitted he didn't have a CO.

When the board informed him that operating without a CO is a violation that needs to be rectified before his special-use permit can be considered, Abaire didn't take the news very well.

He claimed that board members and Code Enforcement Officer Bruce Gerould were "twisting things around" and that his situation would be overlooked if he were "anyone else with a lot of money in this town."

Abaire argued that he's been doing business without a CO for decades, why does he need one now?

"This stuff should have been brought up a long time ago -- 20 years ago," he said.

Town Attorney Kevin Earl said that Abaire should feel, "lucky he got away with it for this long."

Abaire was asked to pursue the CO and then reapply for the special-use permit.

As for the proposed Gardner Estates housing development on Clinton Street Road, the decision was made to reopen the State Environmental Quality Review application so more accurate information to be included.

Refer to previous story here.

Board members agreed that two issues on the SEQR need to be clarified -- whether the developer will be seeking public funds and willl a cul-de-sac be incorporated into the project.

"If these two issues are changes from what information the board had or was led to believe concerning the two issues -- when a negative declaration SEQR was taken -- then further consideration is necessary, " explained Planning Board Chair Kathleen Jasinski.

"The public funding and/or low-income housing is a big issue -- and we now know it for a fact that is the case -- because the impact of that can be very significant, not only to our community and town, but especially to the neighborhood adjacent to it," Paul Marchese said.

After that statement, nearly everybody there clapped their hands.

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