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Posted on July 7, 2014 at 11:53 AM by PattiAnn Schultz
I often hear that the current construction in Webster is not good for Webster and we are quickly becoming like Greece and Henrietta. In my opinion, this could not be farther from the truth. The current construction that is taking place is in the commercial corridor between Routes 104 and 404. This is been where commercial development has been targeted since Webster was founded all most 175 years ago. This is the prime area that commercial growth should take place and not in our residential areas in other parts of town, like north of the expressway. This is why we have a Webster Comprehensive Plan that restricts commercial businesses in residential areas.
Growth in Webster, in regards to residential housing, has slowed down in the past years compared to 2002 through 2004 when the town built 866 homes. In the last three years there were only 169 new homes built in the town of Webster. This is a significant drop from previous years and this year there is about 75 homes to be built.
So, as the residential population continues to grow, residents want more services so they will not have to travel far to visit a food or service destination. The latest census has the Town of Webster population at just over 46,000 people.
A lot has been said about the types of restaurants being built in Webster in the coming months. I have heard that there are too many fast food restaurants and residents would like healthy choices. A great idea but neither the Town Board or Planning Board has, or can, under the law pick and choose what restaurants we would like on each corner or piece of property in town. If a landowner wants to sell his/her land to a fast food restaurant and that land meets zoning requirements the town cannot determine that, “we don’t want it, because we don’t like it.”
When I am asked about healthy choices and mom-and-pop-operations in comparison to fast food restaurants let me give you a good idea as to how these two do not even compare to each other. Take Dairy Queen being built on Hard Road … Just take into consideration the cost to tear down the houses, build a road, build a detention pond, move telephone poles, level the land, put in drainage, build the building, get the financing … and this all will cost way over a million dollars.
Now, the likelihood of a mom-and-pop or healthy choice restaurant having that type of capital to invest into a project that may or may not work for them, and with the economy the way it is at this time, it may be difficult for a bank to “risk” financing such a project. That is why these types of operations go into existing strip mall type of buildings. It is a matter of economics for the mom-and-pop operation, not one of the town not wanting someone to build in Webster.
Lately, I have been enjoying reading social media sites where people criticize the town for construction choices when the town has very little it can do to discourage a fast food operator from coming to town and spending their money. I also enjoy the many rumors of business coming to Webster that have not even applied for an application to the Planning Board. If you want to hear the truth about construction projects feel free to email my office or call and we will be sure to set the record straight on any construction project being built in the town.
You also have to take into consideration that in my conversations with restaurants, the “magic number” to bring their business and move into the Webster area is 50,000 residential residents. A lot of these restaurants want to have at their finger tips that many residents to make their restaurant profitable. That is why when a new restaurant comes to town they always go to Greece or Henrietta first because the population is there.
Now the town needs a steady amount of growth in assessments, which equals a raise in dollars to offset the raising expenses in the town budget each year. As you are aware health care costs, petroleum costs, pension costs, etc. continue to go up and the town needs a little increase in growth and assessments to help control the tax rate. This mostly comes from new construction of homes and business.
Next week I will write on what the construction means to assessment in the town and dollars to the town budget.
If you have any questions about your town government, please feel free to contact me during regular business hours at (585) 872-7068; or email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronald W. Nesbitt