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Man who filed suit against Hamburg IDA accused of blocking entry to FedEx site

The man who filed a lawsuit claiming the Hamburg Industrial Development Agency did not comply with state law in granting tax breaks to the $51 million FedEx project was one of three picketers charged in April with blocking traffic at the construction site.

Michael Kowalski, 38, was charged with disorderly conduct for blocking traffic trying to get into the location April 14.

A woman complained to police that picketers walked in front of her car as she drove down Lake-view Avenue to the construction site. She said two men stayed in front of her vehicle and one called her vulgar names. The men left by the time police responded, but the woman saw one of them the next day and called police.

Police identified Kowalski by looking at video from the woman’s cell phone and on-site cameras that had been set up by project leaders.

Kowalski was given an appearance ticket. Two others have been ticketed for disorderly conduct at the construction site. Members of the Building & Construction Trades Council were picketing the construction site to promote the hiring of more local workers.

Kowalski, a member of Laborers Local 210, filed papers in State Supreme Court challenging the tax breaks offered for the project, and claiming the IDA did not comply with state law and its own regulations.

Kowalski was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 and earns a living as a construction laborer, according to court papers. He argues that the IDA, Hamburg Land Development Corp., FedEx and the company building and owning the property, JDC Hamburg, “failed to comply with nearly every requirement imposed by state law and agency regulation.”

The IDA case has been adjourned to July 9.