Eminent domain process on hold: Glens Falls NY Post-Star, 3/8/07

Corinth Village, Philmet consider deal on former paper plant

By Charles Fiegl

The village of Corinth [NY] is close to an agreement that will end its pursuit to take a former International Paper Co. mill by eminent domain, according to a proposal discussed on Wednesday.

In exchange for dropping the condemnation, the owners of the mill property, Philmet Capital Group, would agree to prohibit industries related to trash and construction debris from operating at the 300-acre Corinth Mills Industrial Park. Industrial waste, however, would not be restricted.

"By (March) 21st, I want this put to bed," village of Corinth Trustee Leigh Lescault said. "I will ask to put this to a vote on the 21st."

About 100 residents attended a village Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday at which details of the proposed agreement were announced by Paul Levine, an attorney from the firm Lemery Greisler, representing the village.

Levine explained Philmet, the village and the town would sign a deed declaration banning municipal solid waste and construction debris industries from the site forever. The property owner would be restricted by the covenant unless it was released from it by the village and town.

The village had asked for industrial waste to be prohibited as well, but representatives for Philmet refused.

"We got two out of three," Levine said. "We can't get industrial waste; they won't give it to us."

The sides are also working on agreeing to a site proposal that would include upgrading the mill's power plant and constructing a 12,000-square-foot building that will be used to manufacture plastic dinnerware, Levine said.

The International Paper mill had produced paper for more than a century before it closed in 2002. Local residents have been concerned about the future of the mill since it closed and have fought against proposals that would bring a trash industry to their community.

In November, the village initiated the eminent domain process. In December, the municipality and Philmet began discussions to avoid the proceeding and answer the village's concerns.

The village Board of Trustees said it would like to move forward with the agreement soon, given nearly $60,000 in attorney fees mounting for the situation. Mayor Bradley Winslow has invited residents to continue submitting their comments on the proposal.

Corinth resident Barbara Weatherwax, who has rallied against trash being imported to the village, said the village would not gain anything under the proposed agreement if industrial waste is not prohibited.

John D'Alessandro, spokesman for the industrial park, said the proposed agreement would not permit industrial waste to be used as an energy source for the power plant. Gas, coal and wood are permitted, he said.

The company does not want to ban industrial waste because the definition is too broad, D'Alessandro said.

"Our goal is to have multiple tenants at the park," D'Alessandro said. "In order to be able to attract tenants, we can't sign a document that locks everything out for us.

"The definition for industrial waste is extremely broad, and what might be industrial waste for one company might be useful to others," D'Alessandro said.

Philmet is ready to sign the agreement, he added.

Glens Falls NY Post-Star: http://www.poststar.com