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LOCKPORT – Recently passed legislation to prevent industrial development agencies from assisting most retailers has blocked aid to a Lockport recreational vehicle dealer.

Mantelli Trailer Sales went before the Town of Lockport IDA in January to seek a 10-year property tax break on a $1.5 million expansion project.

Town Economic Development Director David R. Kinyon told the IDA board Thursday that the IDA reform bill put an end to that idea.

“I have informed Mantelli Trailer that their project would no longer qualify for IDA assistance,” he said.

“We expect to go ahead with the project anyway,” said Kim Watson, who owns the business with her husband, Mark.

The plan was to build an entirely new store and tear down the dealership’s three existing buildings.

“Some of that might take longer than we thought,” Watson said. “It’s disappointing.”

“I think they’re going to do it on a staged basis over a couple of years,” Kinyon said.

“There’s a lot of factors involved in it now. There’s nothing definite,” Watson said.

The tax abatement would have saved Mantelli Trailer an estimated $135,000 over 10 years.

Kinyon said the state reform bill restricts retail aid to “depressed areas,” which in practice means almost exclusively poor urban areas.

In other matters at the town IDA meeting, Kinyon said Yahoo will go before the Niagara County Planning Board Monday and the town Planning Board Wednesday to gain site plan approval for its $168 million expanded data center in the town industrial park off Junction Road.

Also, Yahoo will go before the town Zoning Board of Appeals April 23 to obtain a height variance for the data center.

Yahoo is to receive an 18-year property tax break and a 20-year sales tax exemption on the materials needed to build and equip the three-building second phase of the data center.

Kinyon said a customer call center, which was thought to be planned for a separate building, now will be placed in the central administrative building of the three-building expansion.

Yahoo employs 77 people in its current five-building data center. The expansion is expected to add 115 jobs.

IDA Chairman Thomas A. Sy said that at a recent lunch at the data center, a Yahoo vice president told him that the company will be seeking temporary space in Western New York to open a call center even before the Lockport project can be built.

Sy said Yahoo has 10 or 11 call centers, only one in the U.S. “He said 85 percent of their call volume is handled internationally. They want to change that,” Sy said.

A Yahoo spokeswoman confirmed Sy’s report.

Kinyon said the revised site plan is being prepared at “double-time” to get it ready for Monday’s county session.

The IDA plans a public hearing and vote on the tax package for 9 a.m. April 25 in Town Hall.

Also, Kinyon said McGuire Development will likely sign an agreement with the IDA to develop a multi-tenant facility in the industrial park in time for action at the board’s May 9 meeting.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com