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Long-range plan calls for expanding Medina Business Park by 1,000 acres

Photo by Tom Rivers: Jim Bensley, director of the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development, speaks at a public hearing last week about the Western Orleans Comprehensive Plan. Ed Houseknecht, left, is the Shelby town supervisor.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 November 2018 at 5:35 pm

MEDINA – The Western Orleans Comprehensive Plan has eyes on the future for the villages of Medina and Lyndonville, and the towns of Shelby, Ridgeway and Yates.

Municipal leaders from the those five municipalities have been working on updating the comprehensive plan for about 18 months. The final document was approved by the committee and now the five municipalities are having public hearings on the plan, with each municipality needing to vote to accept the changes for the plan to be official as a guide for future zoning and community priorities.

Courtesy of the Orleans EDA: This map shows the 300 acres for the Medina Business Park and the Keppler Site near Maple Ridge Road. A comprehensive plan calls for expanding the business park south and adding 1,067 acres that could be used for businesses.

The Shelby Town Board had a hearing last Wednesday and discussed how the plan would impact the town.

The biggest change would be expanding the Medina Business Park by 1,067 acres south on Route 63 past Sanderson Road. That expansion would be south of the Keppler site, where the current Medina Business Park ends. The Business Park already has about 300 vacant acres.

“These are visions of the future, not guarantees,” Ed Houseknecht, the Shelby town supervisor, said during a public hearing.

The municipalities sent out surveys to 5,500 people and more business and job opportunities was a frequent high priority for respondents.

If the land was to become available for development, it would likely be a gradual process. The municipalities and Orleans Economic Development Agency would need to work to have infrastructure, zoning and other issues resolved to entice a company to that area.

“It doesn’t have to happen all right away,” said Jim Bensley, the county’s director of planning and development.

That county department worked with the three towns and two villages on updating the plan, which would replace one that was last updated in 2002.

“This is a blueprint for where you want to go in the future,” Bensley said.

The plan calls for greater walkability and improved sidewalks in the village, and better walkways along Maple Ridge Road, which has added several new businesses and the Genesee Community College campus center since the plan was last updated 16 years ago.

That road with its increasing traffic may need more turning lanes. Bensley said the local leaders are pushing for turning lane studies from the state Department of Transportation.

The plan also calls for an improved walkway and bikeway at Butts Park, especially near the Oak Orchard Creek.

Andina Barone of the Mindful Media Group said the plan should also address climate change and that anticipated impact on the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge could face increased droughts. A proposal by Frontier Stone for a new quarry near the refuge calls for pumping water to the refuge and helping to manage the water flows.

Barone, whose company works for Frontier, said the quarry would help prevent the marshes from drying up.

She also said the comprehensive plan should give farmers more freedom with their land, especially with using solar energy and pursuing other business opportunities.

The survey showed that high property taxes were a top concern for residents, Barone said at the hearing.

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