LOCKPORT – General Motors’ effort to impose restrictions on future use of 91 acres of land caused the Town of Lockport to seek to take the land through the use of eminent domain power, town officials said at a public hearing Thursday.
GM officials who attended the hearing said the restrictions are standard for the automaker’s real estate transactions and have not impeded development of former GM land in other states.
The town Industrial Development Agency must vote within 90 days if it intends to pull the trigger on the seizure of land to expand the town’s industrial park, IDA Chairman Thomas Sy said at the hearing.
Environmental concerns also have been a sticking point, Town Economic Development Director David R. Kinyon said.
He said the town is not trying to acquire one corner of GM’s vacant parcel, because “we know this is a spoils area.”
An affidavit from Marilyn Dedyne, program manager for remediation and brownfield development at GM, said the deed restrictions include a requirement that the town assume all responsibility for environmental management on the land.
The 201-acre industrial park is down to 56 acres available for sale, Kinyon said. Of those, six acres are set aside for McGuire Development Group’s planned business incubator, and 10 more acres are being sought by a prospective buyer he did not disclose.
Thus, the attempt to acquire 91 acres bordering the industrial park on the south, with 1,750 feet of frontage on Junction Road. The vacant land lies west of the GM Components plant.
Kinyon said GM approached the IDA in September 2010 about selling the land. Both sides said they reached an agreement on price, although they wouldn’t say what it would have been.
“We are fully prepared to sell the property, but we were never able to finalize that,” said John Blanchard, director of local government relations for GM.
“GM was unwilling to remove unacceptable covenants,” Kinyon said during the hearing.
The company’s deed would have restricted the town’s future use and resale of the land. “The only reason the IDA acquires land is to resell it,” Kinyon said.
Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith said, “We’ve had numerous inquiries, and we don’t have the land to offer them.”
Brody Smith, a Syracuse attorney representing GM, said that’s just not true. He handed in an affidavit from Robert Schell, president of Pyramid Brokerage Co. of Buffalo, attesting to the alleged lack of a market for industrial and commercial property in Lockport.
That lack, Brody Smith said, means a seizure of the property would not meet a public interest.
Kinyon, meanwhile, posted a slide listing 42 inquiries for land in the town in recent years.
Blanchard said the deed restrictions are negotiable.