Assemblyman Hawley, Senator Maziarz Request Expedited Hearing on Verizon

Lawmakers call on other entities to join in request

New York State Senator George D. Maziarz (R, C – Newfane) and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) have asked the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester to expedite a ruling on the recently appealed case involving Verizon Communication Inc.’s proposal to build a $4 billion data center in Somerset.

Mary Ann Rizzo of Amherst, who filed the initial lawsuit seeking to block the project, has filed an appeal of the January 14th decision by acting State Supreme Court Justice Matthew J. Murphy III, which rejected every issue raised by Rizzo.

“It is imperative that this legal proceeding move through the courts as quickly as possible,” said Maziarz. “This is the single largest economic development initiative to be proposed in Niagara County in decades.”

Maziarz and Hawley also are asking the defendants in the lawsuit to join him in requesting an expedited decision from the Appellate Court. The lawsuit names AES Corp., from whom Verizon would buy the land for the data center, the Somerset Town Board and its Zoning Board and Board of Zoning Appeals; the Niagara County Planning Board; the Niagara County IDA; and the New York Power Authority.

“Verizon has been very patient in working with local, county and state agencies to ensure that the Somerset location remains in contention for this project,” stated Hawley. “As Judge Murphy ruled, proper practices have been followed by all entities involved.”

Maziarz speculated that the latest appeal is no more than a stalling tactic by Rizzo to force Verizon into other, less desirable, options outside of Niagara County.

“It’s clear the defendants will not win the case on its merits but they know Verizon also is looking at other locations, so if they delay long enough, Verizon will be forced to go elsewhere,” said Maziarz. “Nothing kills an economic development project like delay. That’s why we must move past this litigation and get on with the business of creating jobs and boosting the area’s economy.”

“There is no more important issue to Western NY than jobs, and the only thing standing in the way of these jobs coming to our area is time,” added Hawley.