Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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November 16, 2012

Dry-clean settlement still in the works

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A settlement agreement between the city and the former owner of the Peters Dry Cleaning facility should be finalized at the end of this month.

The sides were in City Court on Thursday, technically for sentencing of Patrick McFall on his Oct. 11 guilty plea to a single building code violation tied to debris at 316 Willow St.

Instead, Judge Thomas DiMillo heard an argument from McFall’s attorney why a pending settlement agreement should compel McFall to pay less than the roughly $40,000 he owes the city in back taxes on the ruined building.

Last month McFall agreed, with his guilty plea on the code charge, to sign a confession of judgment committing him to pay the city a sum roughly equivalent to what he owes the city in unpaid property tax and utility charges dating back to 2008. That amount is approximately $40,000.

Defense attorney Jon Ross Wilson said after court Thursday that he presented an argument for a lesser judgment. He declined to say how much less, or state the grounds for his request, other than to say the request is driven by a “few” developments since mid-October.

Late last month, 316 Willow’s new owner-of-record, Eddie Person of West Avenue, filed suit against McFall to get the $1 building sale voided and the deed returned to McFall, due to a number of environmental issues that Person claims McFall did not disclose to him.

Simultaneously, City Attorney John Ottaviano said his office would try to seize 316 Willow in order to facilitate its cleanup. A rubble pile where a portion of the facility collapsed last year is asbestos-tainted, and the property is under a state environmental conservation cleanup order due to soil contamination from a toxic dry cleaning chemical.

In court Thursday, assistant City Attorney Matthew Brooks confirmed the city is moving ahead with property seizure. He also pledged that, in the event the sale to Person is voided and the deed goes back to McFall, the city would not pursue any more code charges against McFall.

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