Seneca white deer

A white deer at the former Seneca Army Depot

The Seneca County Industrial Development Agency passed a resolution 7-1 to commence a payment in lieu of taxes agreement and a state environmental quality review on the approximately 7,000 acres of the former Seneca Army Depot land. 

The announcement on Thursday comes shortly after the agency approved a one-year lease agreement with a one-year extension for Earl Martin, the winning bidder of the land and founder of the new Deer Haven Park. The property is the habitat to a herd of white, white-tailed deer, which Martin is working to protect, in addition to implementing multiple other projects planned for the acreage.

With the land currently assessed at $28 million, tax assessors are working on a potential new and lower assessment.

"The vast majority of stakeholders agree that the Depot's current assessment is extremely high," said Bob Aronson, executive director of the IDA, in a release. 

That's where the payment in lieu of taxes agreement comes in. Aronson said that Deer Haven Park would make $50,000 in payments, which will go to Seneca County, the towns of Romulus and Varick, and the Romulus and South Seneca school districts. Aronson added that $50,000 is the equivalent of taxes on an assessment of $1.5 million, which is higher than the highest bid received.

By the second year, Martin and Deer Haven Park will pay $75,000, the equivalent of taxes on an assessment of $2.25 million. Martin's bid of $900,000 will be paid upfront to the IDA under the lease-to-own agreement.

"The PILOT payments would be the Depot's first tax payments to municipalities and schools in more than 75 years, since before Army owned it," Aronson said in a release. "As for the bid price, those funds will be reinvested in economic development for the benefit of the entire community."

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