Shrugging off environmental complaints, the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday approved a 15-year property tax break for the expansion of a vehicle parts plant in Niagara Falls.
Residents who live near the Tecmotiv USA plant on James Avenue had complained about noise and emissions from the factory during a Nov. 30 public hearing. But the IDA board approved the deal with only one dissenting vote, that of Angelo Massaro, attorney for the Niagara Falls School District.
Massaro sought to table the application "to get more information in view of the sensitivity of the project," but no one would second his motion.
IDA Attorney Mark J. Gabriele said if the city didn't approve of the project, "Any approval we provide would be useless to the company."
"This is an issue for the city Planning Board and not for this agency," said Gary E. Kelsey, the IDA's finance manager.
Executives from Armand Cerrone, the Niagara Falls contractor that would build the expansion and which actually applied for the tax break, said the Planning Board approved the project Oct. 25.
Norm Williamson, a Cerrone vice president, said the only delay is a wait for Tecmotiv to supply the city a copy of a purchase order proving it ordered noise reduction equipment for the plant.
If that is received, construction on the 10,000-square-foot, $700,000 addition would begin in mid-January and take about four months, Williamson said.
Tecmotiv, which makes parts for Army tank engines, is to add 15 jobs to its current work force of 29 within three years, according to its application.
Williamson showed reporters a July 7 report by Walter D. Garrow, a Buffalo environmental consultant, that called the noise level half a mile from the plant, where some of the objecting residents live, "exceptionally lower than (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) background limits and significantly lower than the city ordinance."
As for emissions, a test on the roof of the plant while a diesel engine was being tested showed particulates "at such low levels as to be below the detection values," the Garrow report said.
On another topic, the board approved the sale of three parcels in the IDA's Vantage International Pointe industrial park to Tortel Communications of Concord, Ont., for $5,000 an acre, or $110,300.
The company, which repairs and refurbishes office and communications equipment, will construct a 15,000-square-foot building for its own business on a 2.78-acre parcel fronting on Lockport Road. IDA Assistant Director Larry D. Witul said an application for a property tax break on that project is expected in the first quarter of 2007.
Later in 2007, another tax abatement application is expected for a 40,000-square-foot multitenant building on a 16-acre parcel near the rear of the park. Tortel will be the landlord for other companies, such as Canadian firms entering the U.S. market or U.S. companies that want to test the Canadian market from a location near the border.
A 3.28-acre parcel along Lockport Road would be the site of a Tortel-owned strip plaza to be anchored by a bank branch or a doughnut or sub shop. Witul said that would not be eligible for a tax break.