Legislators ask Hamburg IDA to change time of public hearing for proposed Amazon project

Hamburg

FILE – This Sept. 6, 2012, file photo, shows the Amazon logo in Santa Monica, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — Sen. Sean Ryan and Assemblyman Jon Rivera want the Hamburg Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to be more transparent about a proposed Amazon project.

The IDA is considering support for the project, and a virtual public hearing is currently scheduled for this Friday at 7:30 a.m.

Ryan and Rivera are urging the IDA to find a different time for the public hearing — one they say would be more convenient for the public to be fully engaged.

“While we are encouraged to see companies seeking interest in setting up shop in our communities, we must remain vigilant to ensure taxpayers are protected, and their voices are heard,” Ryan said. “Holding a public hearing at 7:30 in the morning is unreasonable. We urge the Hamburg IDA to provide more information to the public and set a more convenient time for the public to maximize engagement.”

The other concern expressed by the legislators is that the full PILOT schedule has not yet been disclosed. This schedule would show how big a role tax money would play in the project.

In a letter to IDA Executive Director Sean Doyle, Ryan and Rivera not only called for the public hearing to be pushed to a different time, but a time when the full PILOT schedule has been revealed.

“Now more than ever as towns, villages, school districts, cities and counties across this state brace themselves for what are undoubtedly going to be tougher times, we owe it to every resident to at least ensure that their voices are heard and concerns are addressed,” Rivera said. “I am happy to see that outside entities are seeing what we have seen our entire lives, that WNY is a place to lay roots. We just owe it to ourselves and future generations that we enter into multi-year/multimillion dollar agreements to do so with open eyes.”

Here is the letter in its entirety:

“January 19, 2021

Sean Doyle, Executive Director
Hamburg Industrial Development Agency
6122 South Park Avenue
Hamburg, NY 14075

Dear Mr. Doyle:

We write today regarding the proposed project between Bayview Road Associates, LLC and
Amazon.com Services, LLC. Specifically, after reviewing the Public Hearing Notice to consider the
financial assistance requested of the Hamburg Industrial Development Agency (Hamburg IDA), we were disappointed to see the timing and lack of background information as it relates to this hearing.

First, as this project pertains to substantial public tax incentive, we were surprised that the Hamburg IDA scheduled the only public hearing prior to releasing the full PILOT schedule to the general public. Second, we believe this hearing must be scheduled at a more reasonable time. If the true intention of such a hearing is to 1) provide a space where members of the public can provide feedback and 2) to allow interested parties to present their project to an audience reflective of the various community stakeholders, then a 7:30am zoom call won’t achieve either goal. This is the time where folks are getting ready for work and getting their children ready for school. The average person would be scrambling to be available so early in the morning. This time slot does not garner or facilitate meaningful input from the community, especially for a project of this magnitude. Although this may be a common practice for the Hamburg IDA, we strongly suggest you, as many other entities have, make it a policy that such hearings are done after hours or that multiple hearings at multiple times are allotted. Now more ever it is easier to convene such hearings/meetings.

We urge you to postpone the public hearing until the full PILOT schedule is released and move the
time for the hearing to a reasonable time that would allow more members of the public to be fully
engaged. Thank you for your attention to this important matter, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Sean M. Ryan
New York State Senator

Jonathan D. Rivera
Member of Assembly

Evan Anstey is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here.

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