Tonawanda News

Local News

October 4, 2013

Town IDA takes GM to court

Tonawanda News — The Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency, which is in the process of taking a piece of General Motors Corp. property to enlarge its industrial park, filed legal action in State Supreme Court against GM last week.

The IDA is seeking a lawsuit that would allow the agency to go on the property to perform environmental tests.

GM still owns the land and filed its own lawsuit in May to prevent the town from taking it. The vacant land is adjacent to the GM Components Holdings plant on Upper Mountain Road.

The IDA Board of Directors voted in April to begin an attempt to use the town’s power of eminent domain to take 91 acres off Junction Road, bordering the industrial park.

GM owns a total of about 120 acres, roughly bounded by Junction Road, the southern edge of the industrial park and the Lockport Energy Associates cogeneration power plant. The vacant land lies west of the GM Components plant.

Town officials have said under the provisions of General Municipal Law Section 858, subdivision 4, local industrial development agencies can acquire real property for economic development purposes through eminent domain.

GM filed a suit in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, which will be argued Dec. 4 in Rochester on Dec. 4, said Morgan L. Jones Jr., the Lockport attorney representing the town IDA in the litigation.

Jones said he doesn’t expect a ruling until about two months after the arguments. And the while the two actions are related, they won’t affect each other. 

“It can take place while the other action is pending,” Jones said.

A spokesperson for General Motors was unavailable for comment Thursday.

The two sides have been talking since 2010 about GM selling the land to the IDA. Discussions broke down because of two main provisions, which included GM’s refusal to disclose some environmental information about the land and that the auto giant wanted to have a say on any reselling of the property, which the IDA didn’t want.

The 201-acre industrial park is home to 15 businesses with a total of 417 employees and has only about 50 available acres, officials have said.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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