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Companies' plans to leave Cheektowaga opposed

Cheektowaga should deny requests from two companies to leave the town for Buffalo's Empire Zone, the head of a taxpayer group said Monday night.

"It hurts us from the state level," said Jane Wiercioch, president of the Depew/Cheektowaga Taxpayers Association. "All we're doing is transferring business from this community."

She spoke at public hearings conducted by the Town Board on the requests of Robinson Home Products to move from 2615 Walden Ave. in Cheektowaga to 500 Bailey Ave., and Construction Personnel Group, which wants to move from 3475 Genesee St. to 327 Niagara St.

Before a company can move to an Empire Zone and receive the economic incentives such zones provide, the municipality where it is located must hold a public hearing.

"What about the residents and taxpayers of this community?" Wiercioch asked.

"There isn't any Town Board member who is for this action," Council Member Thomas M. Johnson Jr. said.

He told representatives of the firms they must demonstrate they could not find comparable space in Cheektowaga.

Mike Militello, a consultant for Robinson Home Products, said the supplier of kitchen utensils and food preparation tools, which employs 40 to 100 people, had looked for a new location for three years.

"We didn't find anything that worked," he said.

The company wants to consolidate its Buffalo-area locations under one roof and needs warehouse space that is at least 30 feet high, he said.

Its current location has 100,000 square feet and is about 22 feet high. The Bailey Avenue site, the former Buffalo China building, is 44 feet high, he said.

Wiercioch urged the board to ignore the statement of Robert B. Skerker, president of Robinson Home Products, that he would consider moving to Georgia if Cheektowaga doesn't approve the move to Buffalo.

"These are all threats," she said. "Deny these requests."

"I think the antagonism and frustration isn't necessarily aimed at Robinson Knife. It's aimed at an unlevel playing field," Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak said. "It puts us at a huge competitive disadvantage."

John Krytus III, who now has four employees using 700 square feet of rented space in Cheektowaga, said he wants to move Construction Personnel Group downtown where he has other businesses.

He also cited budget limits.

"The Empire Zone benefits don't hurt," he said, but added that even without the benefits, purchasing the Buffalo building for $200,000 makes sense.

"I can't buy a gas station on Genesee Street for $200,000," he said.

The board took no action on the requests Monday night.


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