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updated: 4/12/2017 4:32 PM

Developer, Batavia plan panel urged to work out disagreement on apartments

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  • The former First Baptist Church of Batavia will be torn down soon to make way for the One North Washington Place project. Aldermen Tuesday told plan commissioners and the developer to try again to resolve differences regarding the design.

    The former First Baptist Church of Batavia will be torn down soon to make way for the One North Washington Place project. Aldermen Tuesday told plan commissioners and the developer to try again to resolve differences regarding the design.
    Daily Herald file photo, 2013

 
 

Batavia aldermen Tuesday told the city's plan commission and developer Shodeen Inc. to try again to resolve a disagreement over the appearance of the One North Washington Place apartment building.

And some residents again pleaded with aldermen to kill the project, or at least refuse to let it be as tall and big as the developer wants, even though the council has already approved that.

Shodeen has appealed the commission's March 15 rejection of the design.

"Basically, when it came in front of us, there was no indication of wanting to work with us whatsoever," commission Chairman Tom LaLonde told the city council Tuesday. "So we felt like we were put in a position where we ultimately had to deny it. We were just looking for some compromise, and we weren't getting it."

Shodeen President David Patzelt disputed that. "I don't know that the plan commission is ever going to agree on anything I put before them," he said.

In March, commissioners suggested ways to reduce the appearance of the size and height of the building, and asked about materials and colors to be used on the exterior. They were irked that the developer had not brought samples of materials. At least one commissioner spoke about the size of the building. Another, former Alderman Gene Schneider, said their discussion was a "waste of time" because the council had already indicated what design option it liked.

The commission offered to continue discussion, but Patzelt asked the commission to vote that night.

Audience members Tuesday reiterated a point: They think the city council is railroading the project through, since it approved a redevelopment plan for the city-owned site without letting the plan commission first vet all the details of the building.

"We felt like we were behind the 8-ball to begin with," plan commission member Joan Joseph said.

The council approved a variance for the building height in February.

"We were told then, 'We don't want to get into design discussions because that is the responsibility of the plan commission, that is part of that process,'" Alderman Kevin Botterman said. "The process didn't work. If these design questions aren't worked out now, at what point will we get into the details?"

"I won't settle for 'this is as good as it gets,'" Alderman Susan Stark said. But plan commissioners need to realize, she said, they are being asked to consider only the appearance and the landscaping.

"I feel like we are sending it back to more head-butting," Alderman Drew McFadden said. "For this particular project, that well has been poisoned."

The commission will reconsider the design May 3.