Weekly Feature

2018-03-07 / Front Page

Modified plan keeps blueberry farm intact


Now compliant with town code, the two-lot open development area and subdivision at 5685 Shimerville Road, which contains Clarence favorite U-pick blueberry farm, is closer to approval.

The property’s new owner, Damian Baird, represented by Metzger Civil Engineering, seeks the creation of a major subdivision. Town officials have been hesitant to advance the proposal because of the existence on the property of a complicated series of irregularities that were not compliant with town code.

At the Town Board’s Feb. 28 meeting, Metzger indicated that the plan has been modified to address those concerns and now features a simpler layout than the one previously proposed.

In the former plan, three lots were proposed for Shimerville Road in addition to a large lot on Roll Road, as well as a small parcel of land that Metzger said “had no purpose.”

“What we’re proposing to do is take that small sliver of land and attach it to the large parcel, to turn that into an estate lot that would be over 5 acres in size,” he said. “We’re also proposing to take one of the three frontage lots along Shimerville and attach it to a lot that contains an existing home.”

The result, says Metzger, will be four estate lots, all more than 5 acres in size that back up to the Gott Creek corridor. The development will also include two frontage lots on Shimerville.

The new proposal calls for the four lots in addition to the existing two homes that remain on the property, which Metzger said will be rehabilitated.

In January, the Town Board tabled a motion that would have seen the creation of several estate homes toward the rear of the property, citing the homes’ lack of necessary frontage as required by the town code. Baird also ran into significant residential opposition over what some viewed as an intentional effort to develop the popular blueberry farm, which opened in 2012.

While Metzger admitted that another home could be built on the blueberry farm property at some point in the future, he reiterated at last week’s meeting his client’s approach to keeping the farm intact.

“I cannot state this enough: It’s my client’s intent to operate the blueberry farm,” Metzger said.

While the debate over the future of the blueberry farm continues to be a hot topic within the town and perhaps inflames divisions over the trajectory of Clarence and its once agricultural identity, Supervisor Patrick Casilio indicated to Metzger that as long as the project is code-compliant, it is not within the jurisdiction of the Town Board to tell them how to develop the land.

“I really think blueberries are none of our business,” he said. “If you’re compliant, and you are this time, after weeks of work, it’s your business.”

The Town Board voted to send the project to the Planning Board for review later this month.

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