County planners want clarification on Clover Hill project in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 October 2023 at 10:40 am

Holley also urged to look at zoning to allow expanded small engine repair at former Danny’s Equipment

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board was asked to give an opinion about a special use permit and the site plan to convert the vacant Clover Hill assisted living complex into multi-family apartments in Albion.

But before making a decision, the Planning Board wants to see the handicapped parking spots clearly delineated, and wants to know if a new parking lot will be asphalt and whether the Albion Fire Department and County Emergency Management Office have given their input for a fire lane at the property on 355 South Main St.

Clover Hill closed in March 2022 as an assisted living site. Realtegic LP in Amherst, led by president Ravi Prasher, wants to the turn the site into 18 apartments – four would be studio apartments and 14 would be single-bedroom.

Realtegic would work with Buildmore Corporation to convert the facility into apartments. Bilal Huzair of Carlton is CEO of Buildmore.

The current site has 19 parking spaces with two designated as handicapped parking. Village Planning Board members are considering requiring two more plus another one that would be van-size, said Janet Navarra-Salvatore, an Albion Planning Board member who is also on the County Planning Board.

Realtegic wants to add another parking lot but wants it to be gravel initially to see how the drainage works at the site, she said. The village code requires two off-street parking spaces per dwelling unit so there would need to be at least 36 parking spaces.

The County Planning Board said the village should consider a deadline next spring for deciding whether the gravel lot would be paved.

The county recommended the village try to get clarity on those issues with the developer and then bring the referral back to the County Planning Board.

Planners also wondered if more detailed drawings could be developed about the interior of the property, how the offices and other empty spaces at the former Clover Hill will be utilized and what is the plan for renting out the units if there aren’t enough tenants willing to pay the asking price.

In another referral last Thursday, the County Planning Board also sent it back, this time to the Village of Holley.

Nathan Merle wants to utilize the former Danny’s Equipment at 122 West Albion St. (Route 31) for small engine repair. The village code allows small engine repair of lawn and garden equipment at the site, but doesn’t specify for ATVs, side-by-sides and snowmobiles. Merle has told the village the site is only viable as a small engine repair business if he can do more than lawn and garden equipment.

The county said Holley needs to either expand the definition of what small engine repair is allowed or make the property zoned commercial. The zoning change could be feasible because part of a parking area for Stockham Lumber touches the back of 122 West Albion St., so it wouldn’t be spot zoning. However, that can be time consuming to change the zoning, County Planning Board members said.

Bruce Kirby, a County Planning Board member, said there would be very little change in how the property is being used compared to the repairs done when it was operated for 45 years by Daniel Dill, who retired a few months ago from the business. Merle, in a letter, said there will be less impact on the neighborhood because there won’t be tractor trailer deliveries, and the drop off and pick up of most equipment will be done by appointment.

However, the village needs to make a change in the zoning definition or extend the commercial zone to make the expanded small engine repairs allowable, board members said.

Merle has lived next door to the site for 19 years. He urged the village and county to approve his proposed use of the site.

“We would like to see this property maintained and not fall into disrepair,” he wrote in a letter to the Holley Zoning Board of Appeals. “It also provides me the opportunity to run a business that can draw other people into the village limits to help sustain our community.”