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Planners offer options to Batavia firm seeking to add apartments

BATAVIA – The Genesee County Planning Board has denied a request for a use variance by V.J. Gautieri Constructors but provided a couple of options that may allow the business to proceed with its plans to place 12 apartments in its Liberty Street facility.

The company is looking to remodel its 13,000-square-foot building to incorporate a dozen residential dwellings at market rate, President Victor J. Gautieri said.

“They would go into vacant space, with no expansion of the footprint and all within the confines of the existing building,” Gautieri said, adding that they would be a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments.

“As noted in recent reports, the downtown area could use additional apartments to create that ‘live downtown, shop downtown’ (environment).”

The building is part of the C-3 downtown district, which is zoned for commercial use, and is not eligible to house residential units, according to County Planning Director Felipe A. Oltramari.

“A use variance in this case, with the existing state law, is pretty much impossible to get,” Oltramari said.

“The zoning code does not allow for apartments on the bottom floor, and this is a one-story building.”

Oltramari was quick to add that the board is recommending that the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee explore two options: changing the boundary of the district so that the Gautieri building doesn’t fall within the C-3 zone or writing text into the C-3 district to allow residential units in buildings that are not up to the sidewalk or at street level.

“The building is at the rear, back off the street, so I like the second option better,” Oltramari said.

Gautieri said he already has filed the necessary documents and is on the agenda for their next meeting, March 15.

“Our building is obscured by other buildings and we feel there would be no change in the character of the neighborhood,” he said.

“Hopefully, our request will be granted and we can take steps to revitalizing the area.”

In other action, county planners approved a sign permit for Jason G. Quilliam, who is opening a Game-On video game store March 15 at 216 East Main St.

Quilliam said the 3-by-13-foot sign will be placed above the downtown store’s front window.

He said he has access to a warehouse in Buffalo where he will be able to offer new and “retro” games.