Some Holley residents push back on events center on Bennetts Corners Road

Photos by Tom Rivers: Russell and Kristine Wood of Hilton show a rendering of a building that they would like to construct along Bennetts Corners Road to host weddings and other special events.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 March 2023 at 10:07 am

HOLLEY – Russell and Kristine Wood of Hilton searched the region for an ideal spot for a new venue to host weddings and special events.

A 60-acre site along Bennetts Corners Road, near Route 31 on the east side of the village, is a perfect spot in a beautiful natural environment, Mr. Wood said at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting.

Kristine Wood holds a rendering for the interior of the building.

He wants to build a structure that could accommodate up to 300 people. There would be a parking lot with 100 spots.

But the property currently isn’t zoned for commercial. And many of the neighbors said they are concerned about the added noise and traffic in such a quiet area of the village.

“Bennetts Corners Road is already a mess with traffic,” said Kim DeFrank, who lives across the road from the site.

Holley is looking to update its zoning map, and is proposing to make the property zoned for commercial. It currently doesn’t have any zoning designated for the vacant land.

Neighbors, including local attorney Jeff Martin, said the village has not given proper notification to the community about making land commercial. There haven’t been public hearings. There haven’t been appropriate zoning amendments and updates to the comprehensive plan, Martin said.

“This could be 6, 9, 12 months,” he said about the process. “You need to do the zoning amendments first, then the zoning map change.”

He said he is concerned the village gave the developer the go-ahead without following the proper course of action.

“It feels something is getting pushed through without doing the normal process,” Martin said.

The Woods have acquired the property with their aunt from Illinois. Mr. Wood said he has used a Skid Steer to start cleaning up the property, pulling more than a 100 tires from a wooded area, as well as many discarded automobile parts.

But he hasn’t done any other work on the property. He was going to set up a temporary storage building, but took it down.

The community turned out for the village board meeting on Tuesday. Local attorney and Holley resident Jeff Martin is at the podium sharing his concerns about a special events venue on Bennetts Corners Road. Martin said the village gives an appearance of approving the project without going through the proper process.

Mayor Mark Bower said nothing has been decided with the project and there will be plenty of opportunities for the community to weigh in if the project moves forward and there are changes to the zoning map, zoning amendments and comprehensive plan.

“They recognize they have many more hurdles to go through,” Bower said.

The mayor said the land also was pursued by developers for a housing development, and a solar project.

Mr. Wood said if the family is unable to build the special events facility at the site, they would instead likely build two houses for the family to enjoy the property.

However, he wants more people to be able to enjoy the site for special events. That includes the Holley community, which would use the facility for prom, a Christmas event and other activities.

“We intend to do a lot for the community,” he said.