In an effort to advance development of the Marcy Nanotech site, U.S. Rep. Michael Arcuri (NY-24) and U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called on the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), to remove the special condition in the draft wetlands permit issued to Mohawk Valley Economic Development Growth Enterprises (EDGE) that has prevented development until a semiconductor manufacturer can be identified and brought under contract.
"We're requesting that the Army Corps stop preventing further development of the Marcy Nanotech site by granting EDGE's appeal to the draft wetlands permit," said Congressman Arcuri. "EDGE's original intent has been to negotiate a permit with the Army Corps that would allow them to begin developing the site in an effort to attract a microchip manufacturer. The special condition attached to it by the Buffalo District completely ignores that understanding and the tremendous amount of effort and resources that have been expended on this project. For development to move forward, the Army Corps must reconsider."
"We've got to end this bureaucratic Catch-22, where we need to have a chip manufacturer before we can develop the site, but we need to develop the site in order to attract a chip manufacturer," said Senator Schumer. "This project has serious potential for economic development -- just look at what is going on 100 miles east, at Global Foundries. To not permit development to go forward at this point would waste a vast amount of resources the community has already spent, and would be a weight around the neck of efforts to creating good paying jobs for residents of the Mohawk Valley."
"This summer, I visited the future site of the Marcy Nanotech Manufacturing Project and saw firsthand how critical this is to our local economic development in the Mohawk Valley," Senator Gillibrand said. "To move this project forward, the Army Corp must reconsider the special condition they have placed on Mohawk Valley Edge's permit to develop this site. This project holds tremendous economic potential for the region and is far too important to squander."
For more than four years, EDGE has worked diligently with the USACE Buffalo District Office to advance a wetlands permit application for the Marcy Nanotech site. The draft permit issued by the USACE on May 12, 2010, included a requirement that prohibits EDGE from disturbing the majority of existing wetlands on the site "until a semiconductor manufacturer has committed and been secured by executed written contract to utilize the subject project site for the stated project purpose in this permit."
In a previous letter sent on June 17, 2010, Arcuri, Schumer and Gillibrand requested that USACE, Buffalo District Commander LTC Daniel Snead remove the special condition because it is contrary to the central purpose behind EDGE's permit application--to begin development of the site for the expressed purpose of marketing it to a potential end user. LTC Snead replied that the limitation in the special condition is required by current regulations that protect wetlands, but that EDGE was entitled to formally appeal that determination.
EDGE has subsequently appealed the decision, made by the USACE Buffalo District, that they must first secure a tenant for the site before USACE will issue a wetlands permit for the Marcy site to be developed. The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division of USACE must now rule on EDGE's appeal.
Today, Arcuri, Schumer and Gillibrand sent a letter supporting EDGE's appeal to USACE Commanding General, LTG Robert L. Van Antwerp, and USACE Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Commander and Division Engineer, GEN John W. Peabody. In the letter, the three again stressed that the hope has always been for the issuance of a permit that would allow EDGE to not only market the site to a semiconductor manufacturer but also undertake significant site and infrastructure improvements that would position the site for development.
Steven J. DiMeo, President of Mohawk Valley Economic Development Growth Enterprises Corporation (EDGE) said, "After more than four years of effort and after spending in excess of $600,000 in scarce public dollars the Army Corps rendered an unvalidated permit decision that grants approval, but restricts EDGE's ability to undertake improvements within the area where wetlands would be encroached until such time as an end user is secured. We are pleased that Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Arcuri are intervening with the Army Corps of Engineers to convince them to eliminate this special permit condition so that all of the required infrastructure and site improvements can begin without further delays. The ACOE has already determined that Mohawk Valley EDGE has met the conditions required to secure a permit and it is time for them get out of the way and let us undertake the improvements for the project and make the mitigation improvements that we are more than willing to make to replace the wetlands that would be impacted by this project."
Mohawk Valley EDGE and the USACE have been involved in ongoing negotiations over just how large an area EDGE will need to clear at the Marcy site and the amount of corresponding new wetlands EDGE will be required to create at the Oriskany Flats State Wildlife Management Area in order to offset the impact at the Marcy site. In order for EDGE to clear the site and prepare it for construction, they must first obtain a permit from the USACE because the development will involve removal of stream segments and other federally protected wetlands.
Below is the text of the letter sent by Arcuri, Schumer and Gillibrand to USACE Commanding General LTG Van Antwerp:
Lieutenant General Robert L. Van Antwerp
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Lieutenant General Van Antwerp:
We are contacting you today because we have significant concerns regarding the permitting process for an economic development project in Marcy, NY. Mohawk Valley Economic Development Growth Enterprises (EDGE) has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (ACOE) Buffalo District to obtain a permit for site preparations to attract a semiconductor manufacturer. EDGE has applied for a Section 404 permit application. Throughout the process, the intent has always been for the issuance of a permit that would allow EDGE to not only market the site to a semiconductor manufacturer but also undertake significant site and infrastructure improvements that would position this site for development. EDGE has secured significant state investment and other funds for wetlands mitigation, road and utility improvements, relocation of power lines, and site development. New York State has also made major investments at the SUNYIT campus, including a commitment for the construction of a Center for Advanced Technology, and has included within this facility a semiconductor clean room for commercialization activities resulting from the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
It is our understanding that, in 2007, ACOE established that EDGE's proposed site plan achieves the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative ("LEDPA"). On that basis, EDGE has filed an objection to Special Permit Condition #1 with the ACOE, pursuant to the regulations, which details the need to perform site development activities immediately due to the unique character of the semiconductor industry.
EDGE has worked diligently with the ACOE to establish conditions in the draft permit that minimize the wetland disturbance at the site and provide adequate off-site mitigation. In fact, EDGE is prepared to move forward with the approved wetlands mitigation plan but also wants to undertake major infrastructure and other site development activities to enhance the development potential of this critical state and regional economic development asset. Also, EDGE will remain liable for any disturbances beyond the scope of the permit, and for the satisfactory completion of the mitigation plan.
Development of the Marcy site is critical to the long term economic development of the Mohawk Valley region, and it is extremely important that the ACOE takes this into consideration as the permitting process continues. Without further development, it will be very difficult to attract a semiconductor manufacturer. We respectfully request your assistance in removing Special Condition #1 from the permit, and allowing EDGE to commence developing the site in accordance with the mitigation plan.
We appreciate your careful consideration of this matter. Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss this issue further.