Category Archives: Big Boxes

Planning Board to hold public hearing on Lowe’s Monday

The Town of Geneseo Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the Newman Development application to build the Geneseo Town Centre on Monday August 11 at 8 p.m. at the Geneseo Town Hall. The hearing will be on the site plan, subdivision and special use permit needed for the project.

The Town Board recently passed a local law approving PDD zoning for the project. The law also included certain site plan details that are normally the province of the planning board, and which in some cases were at variance with what the planning board has recommended. (See previous post)

It is unclear whether the planning board has the authority to modify any of the town’s rulings based on public input at the hearing. The developer also needs a special use permit to operate an outdoor garden center.

Town Board ignores Planning Board recommendations

The Geneseo Town Board attached site plan and architectural requirements to the PDD zoning that it passed last week that are, in some cases, at variance with the recommendations made by the Town Planning Board. For example, the Planning Board had recommended that the maximum height of the building be no more than 40 feet but the Town Board specified that the building can be 45 feet high.

The existing code does not allow a height higher than 35 feet, but such requirements can be superceded by the PDD zoning. It is unclear, however, which board will have the last word on this matter. The site plan now goes back to the Planning Board for final approval and they may try to restore their own recommendation.

The PDD zoning was adopted as Local Law #2 The new law, which amends Town Code Section 106-13 by adding a new paragraph (22), was passed on a 4-1 vote with Dan Dimpfl voting against. The introduction of the new local law was a bit of a surprise and it was passed without any prior published notice or public hearing, other than the combined SEQR hearing with the Planning Board last October.

Lowe’s Update

There’s been a flurry of activity on the Newman PDD application since the Planning Board officially issued its Official Findings statement on June 12 and the County Planning Board approved the proposal on the same day. The Town Board has spent two full sessions carefully reviewing that Findings statement with the goal of producing its own amended version.

At a special meeting Monday, the board raised questions about the need for a traffic study for the Center Street intersection and another study to see if the Morganview entrance should be right turn in/out only. The board will attempt to resolve these issues and have a draft of its own Findings statement by its next meeting on July 10.

Meanwhile the Planning Board has been working on site plan issues. Much of the action is apparently taking place out of public view in a series of private meetings between the developer and selected members of the planning board, the town board and the town’s architectural review committee (which includes Ken Book, Dan Dimpfl and Marge Wilkie). These private meetings are legal so long as a quorum of any one board is not present at the same time.

A glimpse of how the negotiation are going was revealed at the board’s recent meeting, also on Monday. The Planning Board is apparently trying to get the overall height of the peak reduced to less than 45 feet. They have also asked that the background of the Lowe’s sign in the peak be changed from a bright red to a earthier brown.

The board is also concerned about Newman’s plan to deed a block of ground fronting Rt. 20-A to the town. The town does not want the land, and to do so would reduce the required open space that the developer is required to maintain to below the required 40%.

The planning board is also working on responding to a letter from the town board asking for more specific recommendations on site dimensions and other details. The Planning Board has scheduled two more meetings in July to continue this review. They will be on July 14 and 21.

Planning Board approves slightly larger Lowe’s

The Geneseo Planning Board approved a revised Lowe’s plan submitted by Newman Development Monday night and then adopted a Positive Finding under SEQR. The new Lowe’s plan is based on the smallest prototype store that Lowe’s builds with 104,000 square feet of sales space plus a 31,000 square foot garden center. Along with storage space the total square footage would be 155,433.

This is about 9 per cent smaller than the 169,000 square foot store that Newman had originally proposed, but 15,000 square feet larger than the 140,000 square foot limit placed on the store by the planning board just two weeks ago. The approved store would be slightly smaller in total area than the Lowe’s Henrietta store which totals 162,000 square feet.

The board also revisited the question of the Lowe’s orientation, but decided to stay with the CP-3 plan facing Volunteer Road that was approved at the last meeting. The developer had wanted the CP-5 plan which faces more towards Rt. 20-A. A majority of four members, however refused to budge from their feeling that the need to limit future sprawl to the east on Rt. 20-A outweighed any other considerations on this issue. Those four were Marge Wilkie, Patti Lavigne, Tom Curtin and Hank Latorella.

Other questions about building elevation, height and materials were deferred to the site plan review phase which will commence after the proposal goes to the Town Board for PDD zoning approval. Board member Hank Latorella suggested that the developer should be required to face the building with brick. It was pointed out that the proposal will now go before the Architectural Review Committee which is comprised of Ken Book, Dan Dimpfl and Marge Wilkie for recommendations on such matters.

Planning Board scheduled to adopt findings Tuesday

The Town of Geneseo Planning Board will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, May 27 to consider adoption of a final version of its Findings under SEQR for the proposed Geneseo Town Centre. The board voted to reduce the size and orientation of the Lowe’s at its regular meeting on May 12, but decided to wait until a new Findings statement could be drafted by the board’s attorneys before taking final action.

Some public confusion on what happened at the May 12 meeting led Corrin Strong and Bill Lofquist to write a newspaper commentary titled, “What happened at the Geneseo Planning Board?” The article was published in this week’s edition of the Livingston County News and as Corrin’s Clarion Call column this week.

In the commentary, the authors come out in support of the compromise reached by the planning board, saying that, “fair-minded citizens on both sides of the issue should support it.” It is not known if the full board will attempt to modify any of the decisions reached on May 12, when one member was absent and one member abstained on a critical vote.

Planning Board favors smaller Lowe’s facing Volunteer Road

In a surprise move Monday night the Town of Geneseo Planning Board voted to reduce the size of the proposed Lowe’s in the Geneseo Town Centre from 169,000 to a maximium of 140,000 square feet, including garden center. The vote for the approximately 17% reduction in size passed 3-2 with member Mark Shepherd abstaining. The motion was made by Tom Curtin and seconded by Patti Lavigne, with Marge Wilkie joining in favor. Chairman Dwight Folts and member Hank Latorella voted against. The seventh member, Trish Jones, was absent from the meeting.

The vote came after a lengthy discussion of the environmental impacts of the proposed project under SEQR. Tom Curtin made the point that the underlying zoning, which calls for no more than 35,000 square feet should not be totally ignored. It was clear that he was also looking for a compromise that would help reduce some of the public controversey over the issue.

The board also voted 5-1 to approve the so-called CP-3 layout which requires the building to face Volunteer Road instead of the developer’s preferred orientation (CP-5) which faced more towards Rt. 20-A. Again, respect for the underlying zoning seemed to be the dominant concern. That zoning also prohibits access from Rt. 20-A which the board also debated at length.

The approved layout does allow access from Rt. 20 -A at Morganview Road, however, it was hoped that the entrance to the back of the building would mainly be used for tractor trailer access. It was thought that this layout would significantly cut down on the amount of traffic using the Morganview entrance as a short-cut to Veteran’s Drive. Member Marge Wilkie voted against this layout, saying she could only support it if the exit was made right turn only.

After debating the issues for almost 3 hours, the board decided to delay final action on the Findings under SEQR until the May 27 meeting. This will allow the board’s attorney time to draft a final Findings statement in line with the decisions made by the board last night.

The meeting was attended by over 50 concerned citizens who for a time overflowed the room. Order was kept by three police officers who would not allow the audience to exceed the posted capacity of the room of 66 people. This led to a situation in which some members of the public were not allowed to enter the meeting room until someone else left.

Members of PDDG said they were somewhat encouraged by the developments. “We are certainly glad to see the board acknowledge the importance of the underlying zoning,” Bill Lofquist said. “Of course, we would have preferred a Negative Finding, or even stricter limits on building size and total elimination of Rt. 20-A access.”

PDDG calls for negative or mitigated finding on Newman FEIS

Please Don’t Destroy Geneseo has delivered a 120-page report to members of the Geneseo Town Planning Board calling for either a negative or a mitigated finding under SEQR on the Newman PDD application. The Planning Board will take up the matter at its regular meeting next Monday, May 12.

The core of PDDG memo is a 14-page report arguing that the board should find that the proposed Lowe’s Big Box can not be built without causing adverse environmental impact. The report also suggests a number of areas where additional mitigation is needed, if the board should decide to move the project forward.

These mitigations include eliminating access to Rt. 20-A at Morganview Drive and orienting the building to face Volunteer Road. PDDG argues that both of these are required by the underlying zoning for the Gateway District. The report also includes a 3-page executive summary, and over 100 pages of supporting material in 5 appendices.

A copy of the report full report is available for public examination at Mattie’s Cafe on Main Street in Geneseo. The Planning Board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday at the Town Hall on Millennium Drive.