County sues Simao company over the removal of fuel tanks

Publication Date 01/06/2011
Source: Watertown Daily Times (NY)
Posted on:

Jefferson County filed an expected lawsuit Wednesday against Onondaga Development LLC over the removal of underground fuel storage tanks at the former Griff’s convenience store.
The county has been at odds for months with P.J. Simao, principal of Onondaga Development, over a 2007 agreement in which the county claims Mr. Simao, the former owner of the disputed site, agreed to pay cleanup costs.
According to state Supreme Court documents filed at the county clerk’s office, the county entered into an agreement with Mr. Simao to buy parcels at 21291 Route 12 and 21303 Route 12, which include the Griff’s building and the former SMX Transport property.
The county agreed to pay a total of $645,000 for the properties, which are needed for the realignment of County Route 196 — which leads into the county’s corporate park — with the Salmon Run Mall Road.
The county contends the sale agreement called for Mr. Simao to demolish the buildings and remediate any environmental problems, including removal of the tanks. The county claims it gave Mr. Simao a $200,000 deposit that was to be used to remove the tanks, with the remainder of the sale price provided at the sale’s closing in October 2007.
The tanks remain and the county claims Mr. Simao has denied access to the site to allow the county to remove them, despite state Department of Environmental Conservation action against the county and Mr. Simao to bring the site into compliance. The county has paid a $1,000 fine because the tanks are still there, while Mr. Simao has paid $5,000 in fines.
Mr. Simao has maintained that the 2007 agreement calling for the site’s cleanup was tied to negotiations that also included construction of County Route 202, for which Mr. Simao donated land, and a connector road from Salmon Run Mall to Sam’s Club, near where Mr. Simao owns property. The county counters that those negotiations were never linked.
The county is asking a judge to either order Mr. Simao to perform the cleanup work or rescind the sale agreement that resulted in the property’s transfer. It also is seeking an unspecified amount of damages. The Board of Legislators voted Tuesday to spend at least $14,300 to have the tanks removed.

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