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October 19, 2021 - 11:25am

GCEDC VP says he looks forward to 'a more collaborative relationship' with Tonawanda Seneca Nation

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Tonawanda Seneca Nation, GCEDC.

The vice president of Operations for the Genesee County Economic Development Center today said he “wholeheartedly agrees” with a statement from the Tonawanda Seneca Nation calling for improved working relations between the two entities in connection with the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Town of Alabama.

Lawyers for the Tonawanda Seneca Nation put out a press release over the weekend, reporting that a settlement was reached with the GCEDC after legal action by the Nation over the Plug Power project was dismissed by Acting Supreme Court Judge Charles Zambito.

The settlement spells out several items worked out between the Nation and the GCEDC. The press release indicated that the Nation is “hopeful that the agreement can be the framework for a more collaborative relationship with GCEDC and Plug Power moving forward.”

“I wholeheartedly agree with that statement,” said Mark Masse, GCEDC VP of Operations. “We certainly want to work together and be good neighbors as we continue to develop the STAMP site.”

Masse said the main part of the stipulation is that the Nation would not pursue further litigation on the Plug Power project, and it wouldn’t appeal and would challenge any of the other permits that would be issued “as long as they’re issued in the normal course of business.”

“So, some of things we did agree to is to have an on-site archaeological monitor, which is something that they requested,” he said. “There are some wetland areas and a buffer along the western boundary that will be under a conservation easement that ensures there will be no encroachment upon their territory. We had proposed a buffer anyways.”

The settlement also calls for assistance with job training for businesses that are at the STAMP site, prohibiting Plug Power from using pesticides on the protected lands and having cultural resource monitors onsite during earthmoving activities to help identify and protect any unanticipated cultural resource discoveries.

Additionally, around 200 acres (near Seneca Nation territory) of the 1,250-acre site will be protected from development.

Masse said that the GCEDC plans to develop only about 650 acres because the rest of the area is protected wetlands.

No money changed hands as a result of the settlement, Masse added.

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