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Impact of EPA freeze on Holley vacant homes

January 27, 2017 06:20 PM

One of several executive orders President Trump signed earlier this week included a freeze on the Environmental Protection Agency. That meant all contracts and grants being issued were put on hold.

Now we're learning that freeze has been lifted. But people living in Holley are worried about the impact on a push to occupy eight vacant homes. As Rachel Spotts reports, we’re talking about the site of the Diaz Chemical spill back in 2002.

After the spill, many neighbors left their homes, in fear they had been contaminated. A few years later, the EPA bought the abandoned homes, and neighbors say it’s been a battle ever since.

Donald Lavender lives next door to one of the vacant homes on Jackson Street.

Spotts: "What do you think about the vacant homes on your street?"

Lavender: "I'd rather see people in them to be honest with you. Neighbors."

There are eight total, and Lavender says they’ve been empty for too long. 

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Lavender: "I see bread and stuff that I put on that driveway over there for the birds and the squirrels."

The EPA took control of the homes, and fenced off the site of the spill. The agency says the homes are safe, and village officials are hoping to sell them to increase value.

Daniel Schiavone is with the Holley Development Corporation. He says, “The plan was for the EPA to transfer these homes to the LDC, getting these homes back on the market, back on the tax rolls, and eliminating vacant homes from the village of Holley."

With the freeze, Schiavone worries it’ll take the EPA longer to transfer over the deeds to the homes. US Senator Chuck Schumer has even stepped in to prevent a delay and push the agency to complete the transfer as quickly as possible.

Schiavone: “I'm trying to remain optimistic. I think with Senator Schumer's help, we'll move forward.”

The EPA issued a response this afternoon saying it’s proceeding with the transfer as planned and doesn’t anticipate a delay. We’ll stay on top of this story and bring you any updates.

Credits

Rachel Spotts

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