The houses are coming, and the blueberries are staying.
That was the takeaway this week when the Clarence Town Board gave the go-ahead for a project that would add a subdivision to the site of the U-Pick Blueberry Farm on Shimerville Road.
The board earlier had rejected a proposed 36-acre, nine lot subdivision on two lots at 5685 and 5645 Shimerville Road because the project did not meet town codes.
Neighbors of the property previously told The News that they had grown to love the blueberry farm and didn't want to see it give way to a subdivision., but the board said at the time that its decision had nothing to do with the the blueberry farm.
"I really think blueberries are none of our business," Supervisor Patrick Casilio reiterated on Wednesday as he addressed the engineer representing the project. "If you are compliant, and you are this time, then it's not our business.
In spite of that, project engineer Michael Metzger pledged on Wednesday that blueberries are in the plan.
"It's my client's intent to operate the blueberry farm," he said.
The Town Board approved a modification of the subdivision and sent the plan to the Planning Board for a formal review.
The new proposal reduced the plan from nine lots, which was proposed in January, to six lots – four building lots and two existing homes. It leaves the 10 acres of blueberries untouched. All of the lots are over five acres, said Metzger. The new proposal also changes the design which had left one of the existing homes landlocked.
Owner Damian Baird spent $2.1 million to buy both the farm at 5685 Shimerville Road and the home immediately to the south.
A previous design had put building lots on the farm property, but Metzger said after the meeting that this was an illustration of what could happen in the future.
"People saw that and got the wrong impression," said Metzger.
Metzger said it was Baird's intent all along to continue to operate the farm.
"He purchased the (farm) equipment. He had done that right from the start," said Metzger, who represented Baird who was absent on Wednesday. "He spent a lot of money on the equipment and he never would have done that if it wasn't his intention (to operate the farm.)
Metzger said Baird is also rehabbing the two existing houses which he said were in need of a lot of work. He said they have also reduced the plans for five driveways to two and all six lots will share the two driveways.