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Workshop reviews Green Genesee/Smart Genesee project, Town of Batavia’s comprehensive plan

BATAVIA – Understanding how to effectively plan for future economic development was the focus of a workshop on the Green Genesee/Smart Genesee project and its relationship to the Town of Batavia’s comprehensive plan.

About 15 people gathered at the Town Hall on Wednesday night to receive updates on the sustainability initiative from environmental consultants and county planners.

The GG/SG project was started around three years ago by the Genesee County Economic Development Agency, Genesee County Planning Department and New York Green Inc., along with the towns of Batavia, Oakfield and Alabama and the village of Oakfield.

Funded in large part by a $175,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority with additional monetary support from the aforementioned partners, its goal is to create tools and provide resources to guide land and energy use in Genesee County.

“We’re in a mostly rural area here,” said Sheila H. Hess of East Bethany, environmental planner for CC Environment & Planning. “What happens when economic development comes, and how do you address the changes that come with it? Green Genesee/Smart Genesee offers tools for thoughtful strategies of growth and secondary growth.”

Barbara Johnston, senior planner for LaBella Associates Inc. of Rochester, distributed an energy conservation strategy packet that evaluates the energy usage in Town of Batavia buildings and in transportation, and identifies steps the town can take to reduce its energy costs.

The strategy is a component of the GG/SG that includes comprehensive plan and zoning updates in the three towns and the village of Oakfield.

She led those in attendance in an exercise that identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relating to development and its consequences.

Strengths included natural resources, location, new infrastructure, low taxes and low crime rate.

Weaknesses included New York State policies, regulations, laws and taxes; transportation issues; competing land uses; and an aging population.

Johnston said more workshops are planned throughout the summer and autumn in anticipation of the project’s completion by the end of the year.