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St. Lawrence IDA approves rail settlement

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CANTON — A small claims action over washout damage on the Newton Falls rail line was put to rest Thursday with the approval by the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency of a settlement with three property owners.

The IDA approved a payment of $11,240 to Penet Empire, Frederick H. Phinney, and H. Charles Livingston Jr., all of Watertown.

The property owners and the IDA sued each other in 2011 over flooding that began in 2008 and which culminated in a portion of the Mohawk, Adirondack and Northern Railroad line in the town of Fine washing out in 2010, damaging a driveway, private bridge and trout stream bed. The trio wanted the IDA to pay them $5,000 each.

The IDA countersued for the cost of culvert replacement, claiming beaver dams on the property of the others caused the problem.

The rail bed is part of the 46-mile line spanning three counties that is the recipient of a $9.9 million state grant for rehabilitation.

“We’re working with Empire State Development to finalize the incentive offer,” IDA Executive Director Patrick J. Kelly said. “We’re close to moving forward with the project.”

The rail serves several businesses and is key to any reopening of Newton Falls Fine Paper, he said.

The IDA also approved a lease and its standard Payment-In-Lieu-of-Tax-Agreement for St. Lawrence Brewing Co., a microbrewery that will set up operations at 19 Commerce Lane in the IDA’s first building in its Canton Industrial Park. The microbrewery is expected to add employment for five people over three years.

The PILOT allows St. Lawrence Brewing to pay no taxes for five years and make payments for a second five years at 50 percent of assessed value. The lease is for five years but a PILOT will already be in place if the term is extended, Mr. Kelly said.

“We build within the lease the pathway to add to the tax base,” he said.

The IDA also approved loans of $700,000 each from the IDA/Local Development Corp. and from the River Valley Redevelopment Agency toward the construction cost of the building. The IDA is providing $550,000 as an equity contribution for the building.

A standard PILOT was approved for A.J. Missert, Ogdensburg, which is building a 6,000-square-foot addition to its warehouse in Ogdensburg, helping it to retain 20 jobs, Mr. Kelly said.

“The IDA is actively working to do more projects. Today, we approved one for a start-up venture and one for a company with a long history in Ogdensburg,” Mr. Kelly said. “We think it’s positive to see these investments being made.”

The IDA’s LDC also approved a $20,000 loan from its microenterprise program to Joanne Gollinger, doing business as Shades Tanning & Hair Salon in Massena.

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