A public hearing on a request from Auctions International owner Russ Scherrer to expand his Route 20A auction site drew several questions from those attending the Wales Town Board meeting this week.
Scherrer was accompanied by two members of the Foss family, Kyle and Shawn, who are third-generation members of the family that founded the original Foss Auction Barn. Scherrer bought the site from the Fosses several years ago with plans to turn it into a flea market and auction barn. He said town and state codes limit commercial buildings to 50,000 square feet, but he said he had no idea the basements, overhangs and porches were included in the square footage count.
The original permits covered a total of 47,468 square feet. Scherrer wants to add about 18,000 square feet to the permit. He said 15,000 would be in the basement and on two floors, of which he said only 4,435 square feet is actual building space.
Wales building inspector Walter Raichel “caught the mistake when we [originally] applied for the building permits,” Scherrer said. “When we added it all up, we were … over the town code. We decided if we were going to go through all of the legal procedures for permits, and hearings, we might as well get another building to house 12 more stalls next to the auction barn.
“We already have 45 vendor stalls and, with the 12, [that would make] a total of 57. We need 100 vendor stalls to break even, but we will subsidize the operation with money from the online car sales auction we run from the main building.”
Board members told him his engineer and architect should have known the state code, which is the same as the Wales code.
Town resident Deanna Zeigel said that though she likes the looks of the buildings going up now, she would prefer Scherrer finish the work before seeking more square footage. In seeking to amend his special use permit, Scherrer replied it was more cost-effective to do it the way he proposes.
Dorothy Carlone, of Hunters Creek Road, questioned Scherrer about an adequate water supply and traffic issues.
Scherrer said the site always has been an auction facility and he doesn’t anticipate any problems.
“I have a total of five wells on site and nine 1,000-gallon storage tanks to stockpile water,” he said, adding, “We will dig additional wells if needed.”
He said the auction site employs 18 full-time workers.
David and Maureen Ertle, of Big Tree Road, questioned Scherrer about the length of time he has taken to build the complex. Scherrer first came to the board in 2004 and said costs have tripled since.
“The Town Board sat on the plans for five months and no one noticed the overages – it was an oversight by all of us,” he said.
Scherrer predicted his project “will be a showpiece when finished.”
“It will put Wales on the map,” he said. “Houses will increase in value. It will be a bigger auction site than was there years ago.”
Supervisor Rickey Venditti said the Zoning Board of Appeals would review the amended use permit at two meetings this month.