Byrne Dairy proposes building a gas station at the southeast corner of Route 281 and Cayuga Street, which has the potential to increase the village of Homer’s tax base by $15,000 a year or 1%.
However, not everyone on Nixon Avenue, which abuts the property, was excited about the project and voiced their concerns during a meeting with Byrne Diary representative Christian Brunelle Tuesday evening. Neighbors are concerned with the potential for increased traffic along Route 281, about more gas tanks going into the ground and the lights and noises from the station if it’s open 24 hours a day.
“I’m never opposed to businesses that help alleviate some of our taxes, but I’m concerned about that traffic,” said Wynie Lottridge, who lives on the western side of Nixon Avenue, before the meeting.
Lottridge was one of the residents on Nixon Avenue to get a letter and attend the meeting Tuesday with the company. She said many residents in the neighborhood raised similar concerns, but that Brunelle did everything he could to answer questions, despite not having site plans, yet.
“I would say all in all it was a really good meeting,” Lottridge said. “Everybody agrees that we don’t want to inhibit business, we would like a bigger tax base believe me, but you know the old saying. not in my backyard.”
The project would go on land now occupied by a car wash, a used-car lot, a veterinarian’s office and a vacant corner lot. However, it’s still in the preliminary stages and no paperwork has been filed yet, said Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe.
Ingrid Fox, who lives on the east side of the street, said she never received a letter and that it looked as if only those on the west side did because their properties are adjacent to the land that would be used. Nevertheless, Fox went to the meeting anyway.
“I personally feel it affects our entire neighborhood,” she said before the meeting. She, too, is concerned with the potential for increased traffic in the area and her neighborhood, where her grandchildren play.
“We already have big traffic with a gas station,” she said.
A Speedway gas station sits at the northwest corner of Route 90 and Route 281, just across from where Byrne would build.
Her concerns didn’t change after the meeting. Fox said Brunelle mentioned already being in contact with the state Department of Transportation about the project.
Lottridge said she sees people using Nixon Avenue as a cut through to avoid the light at Cayuga Street and Route 281. Some already do it. She’s also not sure what the lighting would be like, especially if the gas station is open 24 hours a day, or whether putting more gas tanks in the ground is a good idea, either.
However, Lottridge said that it appears Byrne Dairy, which is a family-owned business, will be willing to work with the neighborhood to alleviate concerns.
“He (Brunelle) showed neighborhoods where Byrnes were built in the past and they appear to be very accommodating,” she said. “They don’t just put up a big concrete wall.”
Richard Hemmings, who also lives on the other side of Nixon Avenue and is on the village planning board, said he isn’t opposed to the idea.
“I certainly can’t blame them, it’s a viable corner,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
McCabe said when the project does proceed, plans will need to go through approval with the village and county planning boards and will require a state-mandated environmental review.
“Again, this is still early stages, we need to make sure our residents on Nixon will be OK with the proposed changes and enhancements to their properties (fences, shrubs, etc.) to make sure they are not impacted in a negative way by this,” McCabe said.
Lottridge said residents know it’s a commercial property so something will eventually end up going in the area.
“So what’s the lesser of two evils?” she asked, noting would people want a company that’s willing to work with them or one that’s not and will just do what they want. “If we’re going to have new neighbors we want them to be nice. I do believe Byrne would be a good neighbor.”