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May 15, 2020 - 8:51am

The Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday night recommended approval of a zoning text amendment to allow mixed-use buildings in the Town of Pembroke Interchange District, but not before a discussion on the practice of placing housing units in industrial parks.

Tom Schubmehl, a member of the planning board and Pembroke resident, said he had some reservations about the Town Board’s application to modify zoning in the Interchange District -- a wide area around Thruway Exit 48A, extending to Route 5 along Route 77.

“Is there any other district in the county industrial districts that allows residential use? Schubmehl asked, directing his question to County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari.

Oltramari said that the Interchange District was different from a traditional industrial district.

“It can have commercial and it can have industrial … it has the Flying J (Travel Center). It has other things like that and includes an industrial park from the EDC,” Oltramari said, adding that he couldn’t think of other similar areas in the county that permit mixed-use facilities.

Schubmehl said he couldn’t either and said “it is a concern of mine that we start letting residential fill in this space. It's going to be no different than the rest of Pembroke.”

“I know it has no bearing on the impact of inter-community that we're discussing here tonight as a County Planning Board, but as a resident of Pembroke, I think it's bad idea,” he stated.

$3 Million Commercial/Resident Project Proposed

The Genesee County Economic Development Center is touting a $3 million commercial/residential project at its Buffalo East Technology Park, which is situated in the Interchange District.

J & R Fancher Property Holdings LLC has proposed building a 32,254-square-foot, three-story facility on two acres in the park, and is waiting for a public hearing and GCEDC board vote on its application to receive more than $600,000 in property, sales and mortgage tax incentives.

According to the GCEDC, the project consists of 17 market-rate, one- and two-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors, with space for four commercial tenants, as well as indoor parking and a fitness center on the ground floor.

Chris Suozzi, GCEDC vice president of business development, was on the planning board’s Zoom videoconference meeting last night, and pointed out that his agency worked with the Town of Pembroke on attracting the venture.

“They were all in favor for it,” Suozzi said. “Certainly, there's a housing shortage need in Genesee County. If anybody hasn't seen the housing study that LaBella (Associates) put out, (it’s) on the Genesee County website. And there's a big shortage of housing.”

GCEDC: 'Live, Work, Play' Model

Suozzi said the GCEDC is promoting a “live, work, play model” and that housing – particularly at industrial parks -- is an essential component in that thinking.

“And I know the location … in Pembroke is a great location because it's across from the school and already has a Tim Hortons that wasn't part of the EDC project, but it has that ability to be right next door to it and also has 7.9 acres in total that is being proposed, of which 2 (acres) are buildable and the other 5.9 are wetlands,” Suozzi offered. “They're all protected. It's a green space.”

He went on to say the project will generate tax revenue for the Town of Pembroke and reiterated that the town board is endorsing it.

Schubmehl then asked Suozzi if the GCEDC was going to consider residential at the WNY Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama.

“Well, you know, if the town said yes, I would certainly look at it, but it's not really up to Chris Suozzi and it’s not up to the EDC -- it's up to the municipality,” he said, again referencing a housing shortage.

“We look at economic development as a whole, and we bring in these companies … and the workers are living in Rochester and Buffalo, (so) we’re not optimizing the economic benefit of Genesee County,” he said. “And that's what that housing studies are showing; (that) there's a big need and we're missing the boat in terms of that revenue staying right in our county.

“So, to me, this is a new world right now and housing’s a big part of it, and the 'live, work, play' model is starting to change what's going on Downtown Buffalo right now … It's because all these old factories are being recondition and rehabbed and the millennials are jumping all over them and they're seeing growth in their workforce.”

Director Promotes Mixed Use for STAMP Site

Oltramari said he could foresee mixed-use buildings at the STAMP site, especially in a technology district closest to the hamlet of Alabama.

“I could see mixed-use buildings in that because the whole point of that is sort of having like an actual link between the hamlet and the business park,” he said. “You could have commercial businesses on the bottom floor, sort of like a main street kind of scenario. And I think that's been the vision for, you know, that kind of part of the park for a while now. So, I think even the town would be in favor of that at STAMP.”

Schubmehl asked whether or not the “live, work” model was actually in the proposal in front of the board, which prompted Oltramari to say he didn’t see it as a major issue.

“I think the era of separating uses, just for the sake of it commercial from residential or, you know, the whole reasoning behind that is to keep incompatible uses apart,” he said. “I don’t see that as a reason anymore, especially in the business parks.”

Planning Board Chair Laraine Caton then asked for a vote and all members, including Schubmehl, voted in favor of the request.

“No, I'm not opposed to it for the purposes as a planning board, we’re worried about inter-community problems here,” Schubmehl said. “And that's not an inter-community problem.”

In other action, planners:

-- Recommended approval with modifications of a special use permit for Jesse and Jolene Coots of Le Roy to operate an ATV, automotive event, hill climb, mud bog and time trial course on 10 acres of a 110-acre vacant parcel of land that they own on Perry Road in Pavilion.

The applicants said they plan to hold events two or three times this year (with the schedule dependent upon the COVID-19 pandemic).

The board’s modifications focus on the applicant obtaining written documentation from NYS Department of Conservation that the project will not be encroaching on wetlands as well as a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for the potential Federal Wetlands. It also asks that the Coots submit an application for 9-1-1 Address Verification to the Genesee County Sheriff's Office to ensure that an address is assigned that meets Enhanced 9-1-1 standards.

-- Recommended approval with modifications of a special use permit request from Waifin Properties LLC of Clarence Center to operate a contractor’s yard in a Commercial District at 850 Main Road, Pembroke.

The proposed yard would encompass a 100-foot by 100-foot area on a 7.6-acre lot.

The board said the applicant is required to surround equipment and materials storage area with a fence of at least 8 feet high that has a gate, which shall be closed and locked except during working hours.

October 10, 2019 - 8:18pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Genesee County Planning Board, propane, wny stamp.

The Genesee County Planning Board tonight voted in favor of a special use permit for a family-owned propane business that is branching out to the Town of Le Roy.

The board unanimously approved the permit for Wendt’s Propane & Oil to install an above-ground propane distribution center at OATKA Hills 1 Commerce Park on North and Lake Roads in Le Roy, agreeing that the project should pose no significant county-wide or inter-community impact.

It was recommended, however, that Town of Le Roy officials alert the fire district of the plan and that the applicant submit documentation pertaining to 9-1-1 address verification requirements and to meet Enhanced 9-1-1 standards.

Company President Paul Wendt and his son, Trevor, sales manager, attended the meeting along with David Ciurzynski, of Ciurzynski Consulting LLC, in Attica.

“Our office is in Sanborn but we have been delivering more and more this way,” said Paul Wendt, noting that the Le Roy facility will be their first venture away from Niagara County. “We found a nice piece of property in Genesee County and we thought that it would be good to expand.”

Wendt said three employees initially will work at the Le Roy site, which (mirroring its home base) will provide propane and oil service for commercial, residential and agricultural customers.

According to documents filed with the planning board, the plan is to develop around six acres of the parcel for the above-ground storage tanks and 9,600-square-foot warehouse and truck garage building. The rest of the 11.9-acre tract will remain undeveloped, with an eye on creating walking paths and green space.

Ciurzynski said they hope to have the tanks installed in November and have the building up by next spring. First, they have to get the Town of Le Roy's approval of the special use permit and then apply for the necessary building permits.

The Wendts’ project is set up in two phases – the first to get the site ready for the installation of a pair of 30,000-gallon storage tanks, with four additional locations for future expansion, and the second to put up the warehouse and truck garage.

In other action, planners recommended:

-- Approval of a special sign permit for a third sign at Metro Mattress at 4187 Veterans Memorial Drive in the Town of Batavia. While the maximum number of signs normally is two, the board felt the extra sign would not cause any problems.

Documentation submitted by Craig Tesler of Premier Sign Systems showed three freestanding lighted signs would be affixed to the building – at dimensions of approximately 4 x 10 feet, 3 ½ by 24 feet, and 3 ½ by 7 ½ feet.

-- Approval of an ice cream stand to be operated by Amanda Smith, of Darien, on property owned by John Mroz at 9114 Alleghany Road (Route 77) in the Town of Pembroke.

-- Approval of a site plan review for relocation of a doctor’s office to a building owned by Nancy Crocker at 7133 W. Main Road (Route 5) in the Town of Le Roy. The 4,460-square-foot structure sits on 3.1 acres and meets medical code requirements, the owner said.

-- Approval of the final subdivision to transfer a roadway at the WNY Science &Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park from routes 77 and 63 to Crosby Road (STAMP Drive) in the Town of Alabama from the Genesee County Economic Development Center to the Genesee County Highway Department.

March 7, 2018 - 10:04pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, wny stamp, GCEDC, genesee county legislature, lawley insurance.

The leader of the Genesee County Economic Development Center said he is attempting to persuade a company “five times the size of 1366 Technologies” to put its stake in the WNY Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama.

“We’ve had five site visits” (with the company),” said Steve Hyde, GCEDC president and chief executive office, this afternoon at the Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee meeting, later adding that the business is “five times the size of 1366 as far as investment and jobs go.”

“We will either be the bridesmaid or bride in this deal, and (if the latter) it would change the face of the community,” Hyde said, invoking a nondisclosure agreement. “While 1366 was a start-up, this company is very solid.”

Hyde and GCEDC Board Chairman Paul Battaglia said they were disappointed by the decision of 1366 Technologies, which manufactures solar wafers, to pull out of STAMP – a 1,250-acre, shovel-ready nanotechnologies site developed by the GCEDC.

“It took two years for the announcement that 1366 would be coming and another two years for them to pull the plug on that project,” Battaglia said after Hyde and CFO Lezlie Farrell gave the committee a quick overview of the GCEDC’s financial picture. “It takes a lot of work and effort with no guarantee that we will be successful.”

Hyde said that “fiscal pressures” in the form of decreased funding and a greater workload are “part of the challenges that are hard to overcome.” However, he said he is confident that a deal is in the near future.

“It’s just a matter of when, not if,” he said.

The GCEDC will be coordinating four projects at the STAMP site in the coming months in an effort to achieve what he called the “big house blueprint – big water, big sewer and big electric.”

GCEDC officials reported that the 2018 budget shows $26.9 million in revenue against $27.3 million in expenses, with $1.4 million budgeted for operations and $25.6 million for WNY Stamp.

Hyde said that the shortfall would be covered by annuity streams generated by HP Hood, which has moved into the former Muller Quaker yogurt plant on East Main Street Road.

He bemoaned the fact that financial backing from Genesee County has decreased by 31 percent since 2008 (currently at $193,513 annually) since the agency’s only two sources of funding are project revenues/origination fees and county support.

“The challenge is that we have is that we’ve been in an environment where the body of work has illuminated. The work activity, business development and sales, and workforce development – notably in food, beverage and agriculture – have more than doubled,” he said.

Hyde reported that in 2017, the GCEDC steered 16 projects that resulted in $240 million in pledged capital investment and 288 pledged job creation. Eight of those projects, generating $231 in capital investment, were in the food and beverage/agri-business sector.

For 2018, a key stated GCEDC goal is to secure additional investment to implement STAMP Phase II site and infrastructure development to help make the site globally competitive by better aligning infrastructure readiness timelines with market needs (market-ready/shovel-ready).

In an another development, the Ways & Means Committee engaged in a discussion with Lawley Insurance executives Reggie Dejean and Suzie Ott and County Information Technology Director Steve Zimmer about cyber liability insurance.

Cyber insurance has emerged as a result of increased activity by hackers or other criminals who gain access to a firm’s electronic network. Most notably, but not exclusively, it covers a business' liability for a data breach in which personal and/or confidential information, such as Social Security or credit card numbers, is exposed or stolen.

Zimmer said he didn’t think Genesee County has enough protection in this area.

“Cyber liability insurance would give us the financial resources to bring experts in,” he said, adding that he projected that if all data was lost at the Mental Health department, for example, it would cost up to $3.8 million to rectify the situation.

Currently, he said there are in excess of 700 users -- including volunteer fire department personnel -- on the county’s computer network, which presents the risk of someone opening an infected e-mail or attachment.

Dejean said cyber policies offered by Lawley have limits of $1 million, $2 million or $5 million, and cover data & network liability/third-party liability, web and print content liability, regulatory defense and penalties, cyber extortion (ransomware) and business interruption (loss of income). They also offer the ability to notify up to 250,000 people of a breach.

The committee made no commitment, but did get the figures -- annual premiums of: $21,663 for a $1 million policy; $27,078 for a $2 million policy; $36,061 for a $5 million policy with $100,000 deductible; and $32,818 for a $5 million policy with a $250,000 deductible.

When asked where the money would come from to pay the premium, County Manager Jay Gsell said initially it would come from the county’s self-insurance fund, “but going forward (if people are identified as causing problems) there could be some changes to financing the risk.”

Gsell, responding to a question about how to educate computer users, said he was in favor of formulating a policy, starting with the E-911 board to communicate the responsibilities associated with information technology.

“The education piece has to start sometime soon,” said Ways & Means Chair Marianne Clattenburg.

-- The committee also endorsed a resolution proposing a local law designating the opioid epidemic and its impact on Genesee County a "public nuisance" and to set a course to recover costs incurred by the county in providing related services.

The resolution, in part, states that "as a result of the opioid epidemic, costs related to healthcare, family and social services, criminal justice, addiction and rehabilitation, and many other areas have significantly increased. Many of these costs are paid by the County. The purpose and intent of this Local Law is to allow the County to recover these costs ... whenever practicable, from the responsible party."

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 28 at the Old County Courthouse.

April 11, 2017 - 11:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, wny stamp, Alabama, business.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) today announced a new round of bids for site work at STAMP -- Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park -- have been released. A legal notice announcing the bids was published April 11.

The work will include: asbestos abatement and demolition of a former two-story residence at 6758 Alleghany Road; a former two-story residence at 6725 Crosby Road; a former one-story residence at 840 Crosby Road; and, two barns and removal of debris from a structure that was a former residence.

The bids will be unsealed and read at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, at the Genesee County Economic Development Center, located at 99 Medtech Drive in Batavia. Bids also can be accessed by contacting Debbie Button-Vanderwall (585-402-7511) from Clark Patterson Lee, which is the engineering firm overseeing the bidding process.

“While we will not be conducting a pre-bid meeting; those interested in submitting a bid can arrange for a site visit to see the structures,” said Mark Masse, senior vice president of operations at the GCEDC. “It also should be noted that for this specific work the Project Labor Agreement will not be applicable.”

January 4, 2017 - 9:14pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia Town Board, wny stamp.

The near completion of a revised Comprehensive Plan, the imminent placement of a state-of-the-art solar wafer manufacturing plant at the WNY Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama, and a steady stream of proposed housing and building projects have Supervisor Gregory Post believing that 2017 will be a banner year for the Town of Batavia.

“While you notice that little has changed from last year in terms of protocols, policies and procedures, I think next year will be more exciting … you’ll see some significant changes,” Post said Wednesday night after the Batavia Town Board organizational and special meeting at Town Hall on West Main Street.

Post said that he expects 2017 to be a “very big and very exciting year” for the municipality and he bases his expectations on several factors, including:

-- The progress the town has made on its revised Comprehensive Plan, which is expected to be finalized by the spring;

-- Action by the Genesee County Economic Development Center to bring1366 Technologies, a Massachusetts solar wafer manufacturing firm, into the STAMP site;

-- Developments such as the Southwest Water District project and the termination of several PILOTS (payments in lieu of taxes) that will increase the town’s revenue in the form of taxes paid by companies doing business in the town.

“I think we’re at a breakpoint … we’re relatively stable and ready to hit that next bump (in economic activity),” he said.

Post said the plan that the board has put into place is designed to keep the tax rate at the current level for the next few years -- $2.64 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for 2017 – as long as revenues go up as expected. He did admit, however, that the negotiations between Genesee County and the City of Batavia on their sales tax allocation agreement as it pertains to water usage could negatively affect the town.

“We’re basing things on the current agreement,” Post said. “(Changes) could have a dramatic impact upon the town’s revenue.”

As far as the Comprehensive Plan is concerned, Post said the town is in prime position for growth “because we’ve been working the hardest for the longest period of time on the plan and its overlays.”

The town’s Comprehensive Plan governs decisions on zoning, capital improvements and budgeting, addressing key issues such as land use, natural resources, agriculture and farmland, parks and recreation, housing, economic development, transportation and government services. It last was updated about seven years ago.

Post also indicated that the board is considering a proposal by David Ficarella of Lovers Lane Road to build a three-story, 110-unit senior apartment complex off Route 33 near Donahue Road, west of the city.

Ficarella, working with Calamar Enterprises of Wheatfield, asked the town to provide breaks in property assessment over a 10-year period in return for the opportunity to generate more than $1 million in county and school tax revenue while also getting a sewer system that it could tap into in the future.

“There is always a way as long as there is an equitable benefit,” Post said in response to a question whether the town would entertain such a request. “We’re in the initial stages; we haven’t said no to anything.”

The project also would involve the extension of Edgewood Drive to Pearl Street and beyond, something that Post said town officials would be talking about in the near future.

In addition to this project, Post said the town is fielding dozens of building and zoning requests from business owners and residents. 

In action during the special meeting, the board:

-- Renewed an agreement with Arcadis of New York Inc., of Fairport to provide annual operation and maintenance engineering services at the Town of Batavia Landfill Superfund Site near Galloway and Kelsey roads at a cost of $17,022, slightly more than the $16,982 that was agreed to for 2016.

Seventy-five percent of the cost will be paid by the City of Batavia and the other 25 percent will be covered by the Town. The work involves project coordination and reporting along with groundwater sampling and monitoring.

-- Contracted with WorkFit Medical, of Rochester, to provide drug- and alcohol-testing services for employees at a cost of $100 per employee plus other service fees, such as physicals, immunizations and blood work per a predetermined schedule.

-- Contracted with Royal Employer Services, a program of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, for counseling services at a cost of $320 for 2017.

-- Authorized Joseph Neth, assistant engineer, to participate in the 2017 Leadership Genesee program at a cost of $2,100.

During its organizational meeting, the board:

-- Made the following appointments -- Linda Eick, Wayne Townsend and Marcy Crandall to the Town Board of Ethics; Louis Paganello to the Planning Board for a six-year term; Andrew Young to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a four-year term, and Donna Morrill as an alternate member of the ZBA for a two-year term.

-- Approved salaries of elected officials as follows – Supervisor, $30,000; Deputy Supervisor, $15,000; Council members, $10,000; Town Clerk/Tax Collector, $66,229; Highway Superintendent, $18,035; Town Justice (2), $25,235.

September 22, 2016 - 7:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in wny stamp, Alabama, business, news, 1366 Technologies.

A groundbreaking ceremony should take place in Alabama sometime next month for the WNY Science, Technology & Advanced Manufacturing Park -- the STAMP project -- complete with state government dignitaries, said Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, during a meeting Wednesday of the County's Ways and Means Committee.

It will signal the start of development of STAMP, a planned high-tech industrial center that Hyde first proposed more than a decade ago.

Initial development will be building the infrastructure to support the site's first tenant and serve to attract additional tenants with the dream of eventually creating 10,000 jobs at the industrial park.

The first tenant is 1366 Technologies. With headquarters in the Boston area, 1366 will use a revolutionary manufacturing process to create silicon wafers for solar panels. 

Once the infrastructure work -- roads, sewer, water, electrical -- starts, 1366 will begin the design process for its facility.

Hyde expects there will be a second groundbreaking especially for 1366 sometime in the spring and the plant will be completed by the end of 2017.

Legislature John Deleo asked Hyde to explain why local residents shouldn't be worried about the prospects of 1366 when Solar City, part of the Buffalo Billions project, seems to be struggling.

Solar City and 1366 are completely unrelated projects and the two companies are pursuing very different business models, Hyde told Deleo.

Solar City is building a very large factory to manufacture residential and commercial solar panels that the company will sell itself to a domestic market.

Whereas, 1366 is only making solar wafers and its product will be a component in solar panels built by others for large industrial solar operations in overseas markets.

So far, 1366 has about $100 million in private investment capital, overseas strategic partners and its initial customers.

At full capacity, 1366 is expected to employ about 1,000 people.

For prior 1366 Technologies coverage, click here.

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