Batavia council likes development plan despite residents' objections

 
 
Updated 2/8/2017 4:36 PM
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  • This city-owned building at 121 E. Wilson St. would be demolished to make way for the One North Washington Place project. Aldermen Tuesday discussed whether to let the building exceed city law on height.

      This city-owned building at 121 E. Wilson St. would be demolished to make way for the One North Washington Place project. Aldermen Tuesday discussed whether to let the building exceed city law on height. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer, August 2016

  • The former First Baptist Church, now owned by the city, would be razed to make way for the One North Washington project.

    The former First Baptist Church, now owned by the city, would be razed to make way for the One North Washington project. Daily Herald file photo/July, 2013

An earlier version had an incorrect number of aldermen voting in favor. Eleven aldermen did so. Aldermen Lucy Thelin Atac and Dave Brown were absent. And Alderman Kevin Botterman did not vote against the tax-increment financing district.

Batavia aldermen favor the size and height of the proposed One North Washington Place project, over the objection of some residents and the city's Plan Commission.

Eleven of them voted in favor of letting the building be taller than city law allows at a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday. Aldermen Lucy Thelin Atac and Dave Brown were absent.

"I think this project will be good for our city. I don't think it will be a monstrosity whatsoever," Alderman Michael O'Brien said of the building, which would be up to 81 feet tall on its western end, at State and River streets. That's 30 feet taller than city code allows.

It will be shorter on the eastern end, off Washington Street, because the building would be built on a hill.

Shodeen Inc. has proposed building 186 apartments and 350 parking spaces.

Alderman Kevin Botterman voted "no."

"I have objected to various aspects of this project from the outset," he said, and a "tipping point" for him is the objections he has heard from people who live near it. Some residents have said the building is too tall and too big.

Others have criticized the use of property taxes, via a tax-increment financing district, to pay for the parking garage in it.

Botterman previously voted against the city purchasing properties for the development.

The city will pay for the garage and expects to borrow money up front to do so. The loan is to be repaid with property taxes generated by the development, or if there isn't enough of those, special assessments on the property.

The council will take a binding vote on the height variance Feb. 20.

The Plan Commission would review the appearance and landscaping of the building March 15, and the council would vote on that at a later date.

The initial proposal called for 171 apartments and 300 parking spaces. The current plan is for 186 apartments and 350 parking spaces.

The building's height would exceed city code on the western portion, off River Street.

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