Tag Archives: NIMBY

Verizon Withdraws Plans For Niagara County Datacenter

17 Mar

Click to embiggen

Plans for a $4,500,000,000 Verizon data center in Somerset, NY were withdrawn today and the project canceled.  Verizon notified Niagara County Industrial Development Agency officials that the company intended to build the data center in another state.

The company planned to spend $500MM to build 900,000 square feet of data center space on land currently owned by AES Power.   The data centers would have been filled with up to $3.4 billion worth of equipment over the 20-year life of the facility. Combined with land, utilities and other costs, the project represented a total investment of about $4.5 billion.  The project, originally proposed to begin in November of 2010, but held up in legal proceedings, was to be rolled out in phases.

  • Phase 1 equipment, 2011-13, $640 million.
  • Phase 2 equipment, 2014-15, $800 million.
  • Phase 3 equipment, 2016-21, $2 billion.
  • Equipment maintenance and miscellaneous, $500 million.

Verizon planned to build three two-story data centers on the 17-acre property, each with about 300,000 square feet of space. The company also planned a 20,000-square-foot administration building, two substations for backup power and a glass-walled pavilion which would have been used as a conference center.  In exchange for absorbing the land acquisition and construction costs, Verizon was seeking tax incentives in the form of a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) arrangement, estimated at $330 million over the life of the agreement. Verizon was also seeking grants from the Empire State Development Corporation and the New York Power Authority. Verizon claimed a minimum of 200 people would have been employed at the site with an average annual salary of $80,000.  Construction of the site would have also brought several hundred construction jobs during the various phases of the project buildout.

Verizon was attracted to the region based on several advantages for data center operations, including the ability to use fresh-air cooling (major cost savings) virtually year round and green, renewable power available from the Niagara Power Project.  The Verzion data center would have had a similar footprint and design to the Yahoo! data center in nearby Lockport, NY.

A company wanted to invest $4.5 Billion into our local economy and suddenly changed their mind.  So, you might be asking yourself at this point, WHA HAPPEN?!?! Why did Verizon cancel this project?  Was it the unfriendly business climate fostered by New York State that caused the change of heart?  No, it was one lady and her lawyer.

Mary Ann Rizzo, an elderly woman who resides in Amherst, but owns property across from the proposed data center, retained professional legal obstructionist attorney Arthur Giacalone to stop the project.  She was not demanding changes to the project, she did not want issues remediated, she intended to stop the project and force it to relocate to another area of Niagara County.  She was seeking to preserve the “rustic charm” of this strip of state road bordered by a coal fired power plant and a food processing facility.

See, data centers aren’t objectively bad, just data centers across from her property.

Her initial legal claim was dismissed by Acting State Supreme Court Justice Matthew Murphy back in January, but Rizzo and her attorney appealed that decision.  Giacalone used a common tactic in proceedings like this called “perfecting the appeal“, utilizing the maximum time to file appeals and paperwork to delay the hearings.  The hope is that the delay would force the defendant to simply drop the project in question.  Verizon filed to expedite the appeal process, a judge declined to expedite and five days later, Verizon decided to cancel the project and presumably move it to their second choice location, Laramie, WY.  Giacalone’s plan worked.

State Senator George Maziarz appeared with Brad Riter on WECK1230 AM today to give the eulogy for what would have been an awesome project for WNY.

Since Rizzo doesn’t currently live on the property, what is found at the location?  Well, Judge Murphy noted in his review of her claim that the structures on her property are a dilapidated shack and a garage-type structure and that there is no certificate of occupancy for either structure.

So, welcome to Western New York where the eccentric, selfish dickhead infection has reached epic fucking proportions.  Seriously, one person, who doesn’t even live near the site in question can stop a $4.5 BILLION development?  What in the holy rolling fuck is wrong with the people in this god damned region?  200 permanent jobs, 500-600 construction jobs and hundreds of potential jobs from supporting vendors were killed because of the whims of one person?

Verizon laying fiber optic lines, dragging power out to the lake, and making a 20 year commitment to the region has so many ancillary benefits, it’s almost immeasurable.  Verizon and Yahoo! building massive data centers in WNY, which utilize our hydropower and favorable climate conditions would have been an anchor for future job growth and corporate investment.  But hey, who cares about that when we’re preserving rustic charm, right?

I guess we’ll keep leaning on the marketing power generated by our short commutes and plethora of locally owned urban tsotchke shops to return Buffalo and WNY to national economic relevance.


NYPA: Breaking Wind

22 Jun

There’s much debate over whether we should install wind turbines in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to harness the windy lake conditions to produce clean, renewable energy. Environmentalists are torn between the notion of clean energy versus disturbing the lake bed.

I’m not a big environmentalist, so I don’t care about all that.

What I care about is that this is being pushed by the New York Power Authority – the same entity that operates the Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant and funnels energy from WNY to parts unknown while most of us in WNY pay higher electricity rates than the rest of the country. While NYPA’s recent reauthorization resulted in annual payments to enhance regional waterfront development, imagine if instead we here in WNY could have cheap, renewable hydroelectric power and use that as a selling point for people and businesses to stay or relocate here?

Letting NYPA get into the windmill business is to invite an unelected, unresponsive, unaccountable authority to export more of our natural resources for others’ benefit, and to our detriment.

If NYPA wants overwhelming popular support for wind turbines in Lake Erie, offer everybody in WNY electricity rates that are cheaper than the national average. Or better yet, free.

I Need Some Help, Srsly

27 Oct

I don’t normally troll the Letters to the Editor section of the Buffalo News, but one this morning caused me to spit out my coffee. My sarcasm meter is sometimes a bit off, so please help me, is this letter a joke?

This letter is in regard to the man who killed three people and was convicted of a home invasion in 1973. I am a resident of South Buffalo and I resent, like many others in the neighborhood, that Harvest House Center has the audacity to bring in ex-cons, drug addicts or individuals whose life represents tragic past events.

Our middle-class neighborhood, so rich in family history and upbringing, is being undermined by these less desirable individuals. It’s a shame that a non-profit organization will go to any extreme to secure funds or make money by this type of conduct. Not only that, but this center also brings in others from outside the area and the state.

This is one reason why I have given up my Catholic faith. The Catholic Church and Diocese of Buffalo work hand in hand with this center to promote its agenda and carry out these programs. If I were a parent, I would have reservations about sending my children to this center for any spiritual guidance or exposing them to unscrupulous individuals.

Can you believe the audacity of a social services organization offering social services to undesirable ex-cons and former drug users in a residential setting?! Can you believe the audacity of a non-profit seeking to secure funding to do this work?!? Can you believe the AUDACITY of the Catholic Church also seeking to help these unscrupulous people?!?!? How can we possibly expose our children to scenes of adults helping other adults? You know what would fix this – giving every criminal a life sentence. Then we wouldn’t have ex-cons, and wouldn’t have to worry about any of this! On a related note, I also have a modest proposal to eat children.

BTW, if you are curious, the triple murderer this letter refers to is Gerald Balone, who did 33 years and now talks to students about making better choices to stay out of jail. The AUDACITY of it!

They Paved the Brownfield, Put up a Parking Lot

20 Jun

The Amherst Town Board has voted 5-2 to approve Benderson’s plan for a lifestyle center-type mixed-use development on the former site of the Amherst gun club on Maple near UB North. This project has been the subject of a NIMBY lawsuit which will hopefully be resolved shortly.

The lifestyle center will have offices, residential, hotel, and retail on 275,000 square feet near Millersport, the I-290, and UB North. These types of developments are popular throughout the country and the closest thing to it we have here is a couple of restaurants and shops at the Walden Galleria that you can access from an exterior sidewalk.

While I’m sure the urbanists are as aghast as the NIMBY folks, malls and plazas are Western New York’s main streets. At least with a lifestyle center, you get them outdoors and walking, rather than driving from the BJs on one end of the plaza to the Wal*Mart at the other end.

So yes, I believe that the replacement of a leaden brownfield that used to be a shooting club with an upscale mixed-use development is a great idea.

And while I’m on the subject of NIMBYism, let me bring up one point with regards to the proposed Wegmans in Clarence near Roll on Transit.

If the parcel fronting Transit is zoned “major arterial” but too small to actually accommodate a major arterial project like a Wegmans supermarket, then it makes sense to change the Master Plan from time to time in order to make necessary accommodations. Like I said before, you don’t move into a house from which you can see Transit Road and then complain that Transit Road is going to have big projects on it.

In other words, build them both.

Paint by Numbers Morning Sky Looks So Phony

7 May

[UPDATE: This is a post from March that I’m promoting back to the top (with new title to fit this week’s theme) because of the continuing drama in Amherst Town Hall regarding Benderson’s proposed lifestyle center project at Maple near North Forest. A vote earlier this week was pushed off to June 2nd to permit county involvement with traffic mitigation issues. Benderson recently made some changes to the design of the 34-acre, $44 million mixed-use project.

The comments tend to talk about the fakeness of the project versus the authenticity. Given that Amherst actually has no town center – the Village of Williamsville technically being its own governmental entity – as fake as it is, at least it’s not just another shopping plee-yeea-za.]

Benderson Development recently bought the parcel of land formerly known as the Buffalo Shooting Club. They’re planning to build Western New York’s first lifestyle center there. A lifestyle center is a new form of shopping center that resembles a village downtown. It encourages walking, and usually features nice amenities and upscale shops. Cleveland’s Legacy Village is an example (careful – loud music).

Predictably, there is opposition to the proposal from neighbors and others. Some complain that Benderson has loads of vacant storefronts throughout Amherst – a valid concern, for sure. Others are more NIMBY-ish. Like these people.

Anyone who knows Maple Road in that area knows that we’re not talking about some bucolic little country lane. It’s a four-lane road with a suicide lane in the middle. The Pepsi Center is right there. UB North is walking distance (as are its thousands of well-financed students). Just over the 290 to the east is a bona fide retail strip.

But what’s amazing to me is that there had been a shooting club there. People with guns shooting at pieces of clay thrown in the air, or at targets set up. Shooting? OK. Lexus SUVs coming to visit Trader Joe’s (which is rumored to be opening its first WNY location at this location)? No good.

Not only that, but this will be a mixed-use facility. The plan includes a new hotel, some non-retail commercial space, and even condominiums. In my mind, a development like this can only enhance the value of the surrounding neighborhoods, offers them a new amenity, and adds value to the town’s tax base. The Benderson plan is here in a large .pdf.

All Things Buffalo wrote about lifestyle centers as being evidence of an evolution in shopping.

The fact that it’s taken Buffalo 10 years to pick up on a nationwide trend is amusing, and the NIMBYism is something that must be anticipated. I’m in favor of this project, because it will enhance the quality of life in Amherst, and will most likely have a positive effect on nearby property values.

Build it.