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April 4, 2014

Court denies General Motors appeal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — New York’s highest court is backing the Lockport Town Industrial Development Agency in its taking of 91 acres from General Motors.

On Tuesday, the New York State Court of Appeals dismissed GM’s appeal of a State Supreme Court Appellate Division ruling handed down in January. That ruling said the IDA was justified and could continue the process of taking a piece of General Motors Components Holdings property via eminent domain in order to enlarge its industrial park.

The next step, barring a GM appeal to federal court, is for the IDA to discuss a financial offer for the property, said Morgan Jones, the IDA’s attorney.

GM owns a total of about 120 acres in Lockport, roughly bounded by Junction Road, the southern edge of the industrial park and the Lockport Energy Associates cogeneration power plant. The 91-acre piece of land the IDA wants lies west of the GM Components plant on Upper Mountain Road.

When talks with GM to purchase the land stalled, the IDA Board of Directors decided to use the town’s power of eminent domain to take 91 acres off Junction Road, which borders the industrial park. The plan was to expand the park in order to draw more business and development, the IDA said. The 200-acre park had only 53 acres remaining of shovel-ready property, the IDA said.

IDA officials said the move was for economic development by giving the agency more land to develop, market and sell to attract businesses. So town officials 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.

The Appellate Court’s ruling said the IDA had compiled such a strong track record of attracting business and job creation that GM couldn’t prove the IDA’s move to acquire the 91 acres was baseless.

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