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Friday, July 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm

County planning board votes against proposed 55-and-older complex on West Main Road, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, land use, planning

Concerns about adequate parking and emergency vehicle access led the Genesee County Planning Board on Thursday night to recommend against approval for a senior housing apartment complex off Route 5 in the Town of Batavia.

The board's vote is not binding, but it does require the Town of Batavia Planning Board to vote with a +1 margin to approve the project.

The site for the project is 3833 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. It is 33.4 acres and would contain 110 apartment units that would be marketed to middle-income residents age 55 and older.

There's currently no senior housing in the area designed for middle-income residents, said Ben Gustafson, a civil engineer with Hunt Engineers/Architects/Surveyors, and representing the developer, Calamar.

The project calls for 1.5 parking spaces per unit, which is a variance from the town's 2-per unit ordinance. 

Gustafson explained that two per unit is excessive by modern planning standards, the county's own planning goals and what Calamar's studies of its own 15 similar complexes shows is necessary.

In some Calamar locations, the local ordinance requires only one parking space, but even there, because of Calamar's own experience, they put in 1.5.

"What we're proposing is in keeping with sustainable development throughout this country by not providing more parking than is required," Gustafson said. "Our studies show we need far less than two spaces per unit."

Multiple board members expressed concern about 1.5 parking spaces, even so.

"The 1.5 parking per unit is unrealistic," said Mel Wentland, board chairman. "For 55 and older, both members of the family usually have cars. You're under-populating parking spaces. There should be two per unit. There are also people coming to visit, nurses aides, various kinds of help. I don't think the parking (the plan) provides is adequate to meet all the needs of such a community."

Gustafson said it's common for residents in these communities to not even have cars, but if the parking proved inadequate, there's plenty of space on the property that could later be converted to parking if needed.

Another issue is the single driveway for the complex off Route 5.

The main concern of the board is access for emergency vehicles -- what if traffic is tying up the driveway, or there's an accident in front of it?

According to Gustafson, there are fewer than 30 cars an hour that will pass through the driveway, far less than similar-sized units serving younger families. The traffic impact will be minimal and the wide driveway will provide ample room for emergency vehicles.

Board Member Lucine Kauffman said no one on the board is arguing against the need for the project, but that these issues should be addressed before it's approved for development.

Friday, July 11, 2014 at 11:32 am

Attorney for Frost Ridge asks Noonan to reverse his preliminary injunction against amplified music

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Frost Ridge, Le Roy

The owners of Frost Ridge are expecting to find out this afternoon whether their 2014 concert series will be held at the campground this year, or whether they must continue to hunt for alternative venues.

This morning, attorney David Roach asked Judge Robert C. Noonan to vacate his preliminary injunction of May 24 that barred amplified music and alcohol service while a pair of lawsuits are pending against Frost Ridge.

Roach based his motion on the fact that the Le Roy's Zoning Board of Appeals wasn't represented at May's hearing and now that the ZBA is represented in the case, new information has been presented to Noonan that shows the ZBA determined that Frost Ridge was being operated in 2013 within the bounds of its status of a nonconforming, preexisting use.

At the May hearing, Town of Le Roy attorney Reid Whiting said the ZBA declined to be represented in the suit (ZBA members didn't even know about the suit at the time) and he presented what's known as a "verified answer" by Supervisor Steve Barbeau that stated the ZBA determination was invalid.

Today, Roach filed an amended verified answer (the answer is in response to the lawsuit by the Cleere and Collins families) from the ZBA itself that states that live music and food service are grandfathered in at the campground.

On the basis of that change, Roach argued that Noonan's injunction was granted without the proper factual information and should therefore be vacated.

"It is no longer clear -- as the court preliminary held -- that my clients have committed a zoning violation," Roach said. "With the ZBA's amended verified answer, the weight of the evidence has shifted such that it is now clear my clients are in compliance with the zoning code as a prior, nonconforming use."

Mindy Zoghlin, attorney for the Cleeres and Collins, argued that the ZBA's minutes don't help Frost Ridge.

"The ZBA minutes say they were asked to review the need for a special-use permit," Zoghlin said. "Dave outlined the history of the campground, and just the campground, as established prior to the zoning law being passed. After his presentation, the ZBA board discussed the issue of the campground, and just the campground and whether it is grandfathered in. It's not clear from the minutes what they're talking about."

Zoghlin said her clients have no issue with the existence of the campground or music at the campground. They are against it being used as a live music venue.

"We're not challenging the decision that the campground is a preexisting use," Zoghlin said. "That's a mischaracterization of the argument and a misunderstanding of what the court ruled the first time around. What we're saying is they can't legally expand the campground unless they go to the ZBA and apply for and receive a special-use permit for expansion."

Whiting made only a brief statement to Noonan and said the defendant's reliance on the ZBA determinations are puzzling to him because he thinks the ZBA rulings produce very unfavorable results for Frost Ridge.

"In 1998, the ZBA ruled clearly there can be no expansion of any structure and can be no change in use whatsoever. On both measures, the campground has aggressively and significantly sought to expand both uses and structures on the campground."

Roach countered later that the ZBA's positions clear that in 2013 they knew what was going on at Frost Ridge and that based on testimony and personal knowledge of board members, the use in 2013 (which included concerts and food service) was grandfathered in.

Noonan could decide, Roach suggested, to kick the issue back to the ZBA to hold a hearing and define exactly what it meant by campground and what it considers to be a prior, nonconforming use.

Both lawsuits -- the one filed by Cleere and Collins and the one filed by the town -- against Frost Ridge should be dismissed, Roach said, because the statute of limitation (in this case, 30 days) long ago expired for challenging the ZBA decision.

Zoghlin told Noonan that the defendants have failed to provide proof of when the determination was filed with the Town Clerk, and without that proof, there is no evidence that the statute of limitations has expired.  

She also said the record is incomplete because for the 2013 determination, there was no application filed by Frost Ridge for a decision.

"There's no forms filled out," she said. "There's nothing in writing."

Roach said Frost Ridge owners Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell relied on the ZBA's 2013 determination to go ahead and book concerts for the summer of 2014. They could potentially be out of tens of thousands of dollars if the preliminary injunction isn't lifted.

Noonan said he will issue a written decision at 3 p.m. today.

Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Photo: New utility pole on Center Street, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Center Street

Workers with National Grid installed a new utility pole on Center Street. The road was closed for a portion of the morning during the installation. The pole will help accommodate power upgrades for the new call center for the Tompkins Insurance Company going in at that location.

Monday, July 7, 2014 at 6:15 pm

GCEDC board to consider projects at meeting on Wednesday

post by Howard B. Owens in business, GCEDC

This is from the GCEDC:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider two projects at its July 10, 2014, board meeting. The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate Med & Tech Park -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, NY, on the 2nd floor, across from Genesee Community College. 

U.S. Gypsum Company is planning to upgrade its paper mill at 2750 Maple Ave. in Oakfield, NY. The project will include replacing and relocating equipment, stock cleaning and enhanced manila production to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of the facility. The projected capital investment is approximately $23 million and will ensure retention of 98 existing manufacturing jobs and the addition of 12 new production jobs. The board will consider a final resolution for this project.

Calamar Senior Housing is planning to construct a 117,000-square-foot, three-story building that will house 110 senior apartment units, a lobby and common rooms in the Town of Batavia. The facility they have proposed here in Batavia will be restricted to residents 55 years and older, and is scheduled to have many amenities that will create a holistic senior community including: a full-time director, events, educational seminars, meals, transportation, etc. The apartments will rent at market rate from around $805 to $1,050 per month with all major appliances and utilities included. The look, style, amenities offered at the proposed development to ensure effective “aging in place” models for our seniors.  Overall the company plans to invest $11 million, create two full-time positions, and estimates that 200 construction jobs will be needed to complete the facility. The facility will generate long-term tax base for the County without added demands for services on our school districts. The board will consider an initial resolution for this project as the incentives exceed $100,000.

Graham Corporation’s 2013 project with the GCEDC involved expansion of their operations on Harvester Avenue, Howard Street, and Florence Street in the City of Batavia. There has been a longer than anticipated construction time on these projects and Graham Corporation is requesting a PILOT amendment in order to delay the commencement of the PILOT by one year. This amendment will not result in any additional incentives and Graham will receive the total incentives that the board previously approved.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Photos: Conversion of old Carr's Warehouse displayed during open house

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Carr's, downtown

There was an open house this afternoon for the new mixed-use complex in Jackson Square.  

The former Carr's Department Store Warehouse is now four apartments and a downstairs office space.

One of the apartments is already rented. Thermory, a company that installs thermo-treated wood decks, has moved into the office space.

The building was purchased by developer Paul Thompson and partners, who invested more than $500,000 of their own money as well as leveraged $115,000 in state grants to complete the conversion project.

Features of the building include exposed original beams, industrial-grade wood floors and brick walls.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Cargill workers do volunteer clean up on ARC buses

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Cargill, Genesee ARC

Press release:

On June 25th,  Cargill observed their annual Green Day by sending 19 of the local employees to volunteer at the Genesee ARC Transportation Department.  The volunteers washed 18 buses and vans inside and out that are used by the Transportation Department in transporting children and adults with disabilities.  The community enrichment activity was part of the company’s Green Day event that is celebrated across Cargill’s 46 plants throughout the United States.

In a statement from Plant Manager, Joe Washburn, Cargill Animal Nutrition observes Green Day annually as an opportunity to celebrate their success of the past year, and to reflect on the ideals within the Green Book, a handbook held by all employees that lists the ideals by which Cargill will operate its business, and goals that are set out for all employees.  One of these goals is Community Enrichment. According to Washburn, “Everyone improves the communities in which they live and work for a better tomorrow.”  Cargill’s 46 Animal Nutrition Plants throughout the US are working to donate time to their local communities not just on Green Day, but throughout the year.  On a national level 1500 Cargill employees logged nearly 1400 hours of volunteer service. The company has donated $337,000 in community funds and $10,00 locally.

Cargill’s Batavia plant is located on Wortendyke Road.

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Flowers by Dick Burton closing its doors for the last time Monday

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Flowers by Dick Burton

One of Batavia's venerable businesses, Flowers by Dick Burton, is closing its doors the final time Monday evening.

The roots of the business are in Oakfield, growing out of greenhouses owned by Irving Bates and Benjamin Harrison, who opened a flower shop in Batavia sometime in the 1940s.

Eventually, Dick and Mary Burton bought the shop and after operating on Main Street for some time, moved it to Cedar Street.

John and Shelia Hamel purchased the business -- and kept the name -- 34 years ago.

Even though the Hamels have built up a customer database of 21,000 people (including customers in seven other nations), it's become too difficult to compete against Internet businesses, Hamel said.

"Yes, we have local competition, but our main competition is the Internet," John said. "These 1-800, Procom, Just Flowers, all these things -- I just urge our customers and anybody, do not use them because you get taken. You don't get the quality they expect here or any flower shop."

Hamel said customers have compared his prices to Internet prices and complained, but people don't realize the quality just isn't the same. The flowers aren't prepared properly and can even arrived dried out, and shipping costs often exceed the cost of the flowers.

Hamel said he isn't sure what's next for him and his wife. Shelia can still work in the flower industry if she wants. She's a certified master designer who got a near perfect score when she tested for the certification. She was Florist of the Year in 2002, named by the now defunct Floral Association of Greater Rochester.

Flowers by Dick Burton was Genesee County's Retail Business of the Year in 1994. The business as also won numerous awards from FTD and other trade organizations.

Hamel said there are so many people to thank for all the years of support of the business that he can't possibly name them all -- all of the customers, most of all.

He in recent years it's been a treat to do the flowers for brides whose mothers first came to them for their weddings in the 1980s and 1990s.

He said he especially wanted to thank the shop's longtime employees, Barb Spring, Charlie Augrom, Linda Luthart, Sally Case and Lori Mosier.

Through Monday, everything in the shop is half off. On July 9 and 10, the shop will be open for other florists to come in and buy fixtures and cases. The property will be auctioned off July 17.

"We really don't know what we're going to do after that," Hamel said. "We're letting our faith take us at that point."

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 12:34 pm

UMMC participates in landmark Safe Motherhood Initiative

post by Billie Owens in announcements, business, UMMC

Press release:

United Memorial Medical Center is participating in the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology landmark effort, the Safe Motherhood Initiative to combat maternal mortality and morbidity in New York State.

The Safe Motherhood Initiative is working with healthcare providers and birthing facilities to develop and implement standard approaches for handling obstetric emergencies such as obstetric hemorrhage (severe bleeding), venous thromboembolism (blood clots), and severe hypertension in pregnancy (high blood pressure).

The project has one goal: to save the lives of women faced with severe complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Close to 99 percent of the nearly 250,000 live births in New York State result in the discharge of a mother and her baby. Yet, there are mothers who die or suffer severe permanent harm. New York State currently ranks 47th in the country for its maternal mortality rate.

Participation in the program is an example of United Memorial’s commitment to patient safety and quality and to the continual improvement and implementation of best practices.

The program will provide maternal safety bundles consisting of clinical education videos, algorithms, step-by-step checklists and other hands-on materials to help obstetric providers adopt uniform clinical protocols to improve the diagnosis, prevention, and management of the leading causes of maternal death.

The program is funded by Merck for Mothers, a 10-year, $500 million initiative focused on creating a world where no woman dies giving life. Additional information may be found at www.merckformothers.com.

United Memorial Medical Center provides obstetric and gynecologic physician services through the Women’s Care Centers located at 33 Chandler Ave. in Batavia and at 100 Ohio St. in Medina. In 2013, approximately 650 new babies were safely delivered at United Memorial.

Friday, June 27, 2014 at 10:18 am

Residents again turn out at Town of Le Roy board meeting to support Frost Ridge

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Frost Ridge, Le Roy

Once again, about two dozen supporters of Frost Ridge turned out Thursday evening at the Town of Le Roy board meeting to protest the town's ongoing litigation against the six-decade-old campground on Conlon Road.

Supervisor Steve Barbeau made it clear at the start of the meeting that he wasn't going to allow the kind of free-for-all debate that took place during the meeting two weeks ago.

He asked each speaker to speak one at a time and only cover topics not already raised and addressed.

About six people spoke -- a veteran who said the ban on concerts was an insult to those who fought and died for freedom; a resident who suggested the town was passing up an opportunity to put a $2 surcharge on concert tickets sold and generate a little revenue; one person who wanted to know how much the lawsuit that most in the town don't support is costing taxpayers; and a resident in the Gulf Road area who complained about toxins from a proposed facility at the old town dump being allowed while music in the community isn't allowed.

After those who wanted to speak spoke, Barbeau answered a couple of the questions and offered this summary of the town's position:

"For the town board it is not, has not, and will not be an issue of revenue, such as adding taxes, or making money off of whatever Frost Ridge chose to do or not. It isn't an issue of anything to do with any noise. It is isn't an issue of anything to do with really anything other than is this a permitted use, and by this, I mean a concert venue, whether it's for veterans or it's for anything."

At this point, Barbeau was interrupted by a couple of people, and then he went on:

"For the town the only issue is, is this a permissible use, accessory use or special use within the Town of Le Roy in an R and A zone. The Town of Le Roy's position is not only is it not a permitted use, accessory or special use in an R and A zone, it is not permitted in any zone in any district in the Town of Le Roy."

Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Batavia Cab returns to service after repairing its one vehicle

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Cab, business

After several weeks of being out of service for significant repairs to its engine, Batavia Cab's lone cab is back in service.

Co-owner James Soggs said the cab just went back on the road today.

There were reports of Batavia Cab being out of business, but Soggs said the company hadn't closed, it just didn't have a vehicle it could put on the road.

There's been a lot of turmoil among local cab companies over the past two years with three or four companies opening and closing.

B-Town Taxi, Affordable Cab and Mike's* all appear to be out of business (we've confirmed B-Town is out of business). The only locally owned cab company we know to be currently operating in Genesee County is Batavia Cab.

Multiple readers contacted The Batavian over the past few weeks noting that there no longer seemed to be an operational cab company locally, creating a hardship on a lot of people, so the return of Batavia Cab should please a lot of people.

*I remember another company that started up two years ago and is now apparently out of business, but can't remember the company's name.

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