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Brach Machine Inc.

Ellicott Street Road resident sets up meeting for Friday to discuss solar farm issues

By Mike Pettinella

The solar farm boom is upon us, which means that more and more rural residents are looking to their municipal leaders to inform them of rules and regulations pertaining to these green-energy producing systems.

That’s one of the reasons why Nancy Brach of 5168 Ellicott Street Road in the Town of Batavia is inviting her neighbors to attend an informational meeting at 6 p.m. this Friday (June 28) at her home. She said the meeting will take place rain or shine, and dessert will be provided.

“We’re having this meeting due to a lack of communication about these projects and to learn what is allowed,” Brach said. “Why are people not notified beforehand? And if something does come up again, we want to have contact information to reach these people (who live near a proposed solar farm site).”

Specifically, Brach and other Ellicott Street Road residents who attended a Batavia Town Planning Board meeting last week were upset about a proposed solar farm installation on land owned by Donald Partridge.

They felt they hadn’t received adequate advance notification of the project, which ended up being denied by the Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals due to the proposed size of 40 acres.

“So this could have taken place with no input at all if not for two people who printed out fliers and left them at our houses last weekend,” she said. “And that is not right. Bill (her husband) and I now read the (legal) notices in the paper, but I doubt we would have noticed that even if we had seen it.”

The Brachs are owners of Brach Machine, which is located at 4814 Ellicott Street Road.

Town Engineer Steve Mountain said the application by Truesdale Solar for the Partridge property could be resubmitted if it were reduced to conform to code (maximum of 20 acres).

He added that if a vote needs to be taken again, the same property owners within 500 feet of the proposed site would be notified by mail.

Although Brach’s home is more than 500 feet away, she believes more should be done to let people know about these projects other than being on the Town’s website.

Brach’s concerns over solar farms go beyond notification methods, however.

“Our meeting will be for awareness,” she said. “These projects benefit two parties -- the person leasing the property and the company installing the solar equipment. The town and the people of the town do not benefit.

“And the funds for these projects come from the taxpayers. These projects do not pay for themselves, they are only profitable with the subsidies we, as taxpayers, fund.”

She decried the expenses to the Town involved in zoning, planning and legal costs, and said that the projects are not self-supporting and should not be permitted until they are.

“And the 20-year bonds may or may not be enough to dismantle the equipment when the time comes, if they even last that long. Plus, people lose the beautiful country vistas that they hoped to enjoy for a lifetime.”

Brach said she thought that the Town of Stafford had a policy “more protective” of the rights of its residents, and hoped that some of Stafford’s ideas could be incorporated into Batavia’s policy.

In the end, she hopes Friday’s meeting will mobilize residents to speak out.

“As a taxpayer, I resent paying for projects that are not profitable just to benefit an individual and a company,” she said. “Luckily, I can afford it. But there are many people who cannot and we need to stand up for them, and for what is right.”

Brach Machine celebrates 30 years in business and the joys of manufacturing

By Howard B. Owens


Bill and Nancy Brach clearly love their business, Brach Machine, Inc., which is now in its 30th year in Batavia. Yesterday, the Brachs showed a visitor around their shop with verve and eagerness to share the details of what they do, how they do it and why it's important. 

Going through the stockroom of completed parts, Nancy stops and remarks, "These are parts that most people wouldn't have a clue as to what they are."

"I have no idea," the visitor admits.

"Right, exactly," said Nancy, "but there's someone for whom these are a vital part of their business."

Making vital parts for business is what Bill Brach set out to do when he started his business in 1985. Brach machine makes the tools that make it possible for other manufacturers all over the world to make the parts that make our daily lives a little bit easier.

The ignition on your car, die cast. Your refrigerator handle, probably die cast. The sprinkler head on your hose, die cast.

"You've had your hands on hundreds of die castings," Bill said.

When asked to describe his business, Bill has a ready answer that he enunciates clearly in a voice of good cheer that tells you it's a well-rehearsed line intended to precisely describe the business he's in, as precisely as the tools his employees make.

"We manufacture consumable tooling for the high-pressure die-casting industry."

That's it. That's what Brach Machine does. In a nutshell.

High-pressure die casting involves injecting metal in liquid form -- zinc, aluminum, magnesium, copper, lead, and tin -- into molds to make parts, tools and pieces. Brach Machine makes the parts that make the injection possible.

It's no wonder Bill chooses his words carefully. What he does isn't easy and mistakes are measured in fractions of a millimeter. After showing a visitor a tool that can measure a gap that is a quarter of the width of a human hair, Nancy explains such exacting specifications are necessary for their customers to achieve the quality their customers expect.

A tool that comes out of Brach Machine, cut and crafted from a piece of iron with no do-overs, might be worth $4,500 or more. It needs to be cut and shaved and polished to exact specifications. 

That means the people Bill and Nancy hire need to be able to do quality work and have some level of experience suitable to the task. Such employees are hard to find, especially in a tight job market with the unemployment rate hovering near 4 percent.

Brach Machine is advertising for employees more than they ever have and is hosting a pair of open houses to celebrate both 30 years in business and to commemorate Manufacturing Day.

The open houses are Tuesday Oct. 27 and Thursday Nov. 5 with three times available for tours each date: 8 a.m., 11:30 a.m., or 2:30 p.m. Spots are limited, so the open house will be on a first-come-first-serve basis. RSVP to: Tim Gleba, production supervisor, via e-mail or phone 343-9134.

Prospective employees are welcome as well as anybody interested in one of Batavia's world-class businesses and manufacturing sites in general.

"The thing we want to share with people is this is a place where you can get a job, and it's a good job and it's a stable job and it's a fair-paying job," Nancy said. "It has benefits and we'll keep you here as long as you will stay."


Brian Doktor


Dave Beedham


Al Bailey





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