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Town gives OK to private golf course

LEWISTON -- The Town Board voted unanimously Thursday to go ahead with a privately built, 18-hole golf course, selling a parcel of town-owned land and the town's environmental and engineering studies for $154,000.

Councilman John D. Ceretto said Old Creek Development, headed by Lewiston attorney Michael J. Dowd, has a partnership with the Seneca Nation of Indians to develop the 18-hole course, but Dowd resolutely refused to say who his partners are.

Dowd did assure the audience that the course would be fully taxable. He said if the Senecas did take ownership of the course, it couldn't become sovereign Seneca land without an act of the State Legislature.

Earlier Thursday, county Industrial Development Agency attorney Mark J. Gabriele said the Senecas approached the IDA several months ago to inquire if a property tax break would be possible if they owned a golf course. Gabriele said a five-year abatement would be legal, but there has been no follow-up.

"There's been no application, no further contact. It's been months since we heard from them," Gabriele said.

The board voted to sell a piece of land that would be added to property Dowd's group already owns, making a 250-acre parcel for the course. It is to be located on a site bounded by the Robert Moses Parkway and Creek, Raymond and Pletcher roads.

Most of the debate Thursday centered on the sale of town-owned land off the end of Curtis Court North, a residential cul-de-sac. The acreage was variously mentioned during a 50-minute public hearing as 16 or 17 acres, although a full legal description specified it as 15.521 acres. Dowd had asked the town to sell about seven acres in a horseshoe shape surrounding Curtis Court North in addition to the land he sought previously, for which the town was asking $147,000.

Deputy Town Attorney David G. Boniello said the land was being sold with deed restrictions. He said it can't be cleared and nothing of any sort can be built on it, not even a fence. He said there will be a conservation easement and a clause that the land reverts to the town if the golf course project falls through.

Ceretto said the extra property was appraised by Girasole Appraisal Co. at $1,000 per acre, adding $7,000 to the town's price.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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