by Kristina Gabalski | May 8, 2017 | This article originally appeared in West Side News

VHDC President Daniel Schiavone and Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty announced Tuesday, May 2, that after more than two years of negotiations with the EPA, the VHDC has secured the eight “Diaz Homes” and is in possession of the deeds to the properties, all of which are clustered in the southwestern quadrant of the village.

Schiavone said the VHDC’s attorney is now filing the deeds with Orleans County and finalizing the property transactions.

The VHDC was formed in an effort to get the homes on the market and back on the tax rolls. “I am excited to be removing eight zombie homes from the community,” Schiavone said. “I hope that people will see the potential in the homes and make them beautiful again.”

The EPA purchased the homes following the 2002 release of chemicals from the former Diaz Chemical plant on Jackson Street in the village.

Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty and Schiavone (who was mayor when the chemical release occurred) both said the 15 years since the incident have been difficult ones for the community. Lawsuits resulted from the chemical release, some families chose to leave, Diaz Chemical eventually declared bankruptcy, and the village lost many good jobs.

“The closing of Diaz was a bad part of the village’s history,” Sorochty and Schiavone said, but they noted that May 2 was an, “exciting day” with the homes back in local hands and on their way to new owners.

Members of the VHDC plan to meet Monday, May 8 to decide the best way to sell the homes. “We may go with a local realtor,” Schiavone said, but other options include auctioning off the properties. Under terms of the agreement transferring ownership of the homes, the EPA will get 90 percent of the sale price, the VHDC will get 10 percent.

Schiavone had worked to get a better deal for the village, as it was hoped proceeds from the sale of the homes would help fund additional projects for the VHDC. “We may be able to accrue some funds to keep (the VHDC) alive and operating,” Schiavone said.

He explained that people who purchase the homes will have to have lead clean-up completed by an EPA certified contractor. As part of the agreement, the EPA insisted that the lead abatement be done for the properties to be released.

The homes have been cleared of any chemical contamination, Schiavone said. Tests completed by the EPA, “reveal there is nothing,” in the homes beyond the lead issues. Those who purchase the properties will be provided with all EPA reports, Mayor Sorochty and Schiavone said.

The former Diaz plant has been demolished, Mayor Sorochty said. “Onsite soil remediation will now begin.” The village is seeking a BOA (Brownfield Opportunity Area) Step 2 Program Grant as part of its effort to re-develop the Diaz site.

Mayor Sorochty said the village’s BOA Step 1 Program Grant pre-nomination study and the village’s comprehensive plan recommended the formation of the VHDC as a way to address the problem of the former “Diaz Homes.”

The eight empty “Diaz Homes” in the Village of Holley are now owned by the Village of Holley Development Corporation (VHDC).