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Holley says its at impasse with EPA on 8 houses

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 20 October 2015 at 12:00 am

HOLLEY – What began as a snag in late August has now become an impasse in talks between the Village of Holley Development Corporation (VHDC) and the EPA over the turn-over of eight “Diaz homes” in the village.

“This LDC is not a dumping ground,” VHDC President Daniel Schiavone said during the board’s meeting Monday evening. Schiavone reported details regarding a conference call he was on with the Village of Holley attorney and EPA officials over the EPA’s insistence that lead abatement in the homes be completed by a certified lead abatement contractor rather than by the property owner.

“The news is grim,” Schiavone said. “We are at an impasse.”

The VHDC has not signed the most recent agreement to take ownership of the homes due to wording in the agreement requiring the certified lead abatement.

Schiavone has said the cost of the abatement threatens the future ability of the VHDC to sell the homes. Additionally, the VHDC Board has learned that lead abatement contractors will not provide an estimate of the cost of the work until a survey of the properties is done to access the situation. That cost will be approximately $5,500, Schiavone says, money neither the VHDC nor the EPA has budgeted.

“As the president of the LDC, the last thing I’m going to do is get us into a position where we own the homes and can’t afford to get them cleaned up so we can sell them,” Schiavone said during the meeting.

Several of the homes are valued at less than $25,000 and with the cost of lead abatement potentially reaching $10,000-$15,000, Shiavone said he has told the EPA, “… the bottom line is that this (lead abatement) costs a lot of money, we are not going to be able to sell the homes.”

He explained that officials at the EPA are working to find a federal agency that might be able to fund the lead survey, but noted he has been surprised by, “…how uniformed EPA people are about lead clean-up. I think they are learning as they go along.”

Schiavone said eventually tearing down the homes is not out of the realm of possibility, noting the EPA is currently working to tear down the former Diaz facility in the village.

“The EPA still wants us to take these homes,” he said, and added that he understands the desire of the EPA to, “leave a trail clean for people who are going to live in these homes… but we have to reach the middle ground of reasonableness (regarding the lead issue).”

Schiavone noted that EPA officials are concerned about code violations which could become an issue the longer the properties sit vacant. Members of the board suggested that they try to contact the office of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer to see if he could be of assistance in resolving the lead abatement issue.

“Right now, everything is on hold,” Schiavone said.

Board members do no plan to meet again until January.