Another strike against local company

JOHNSTOWN — An Albany firm has filed a $127,700 mechanic’s lien against Johnstown Renewables LLC – the beleaguered firm whose $17 million acid whey project at the Johnstown Industrial Park was mysteriously halted last spring.

CHA Consulting Inc. of Broadway filed the mechanic’s lien Sept. 5 in state Supreme Court in Johnstown.

The company is seeking $127,700 left from an $878,535 contract it has with Johnstown Renewables over the unfinished project.

Construction was supposed to have been finished by now. Johnstown Renewables is supposed to create reusable ethanol alcohol and animal feed from the Fage USA yogurt plant’s whey at the industrial park. The project was expected to create 30 jobs to start. The construction was halted on a 5.4-acre parcel at the industrial park. Workers had been constructing the 15,000-square-foot plant on the north side of Enterprise Drive. Johnstown Renewables’ legal address is Tarrytown, Westchester County, with an office upstate in Syracuse.

A mechanic’s lien is a guarantee of payment to builders, contractors and construction firms that build or repair structures. Such liens also extend to suppliers of materials and subcontractors and cover building repairs as well.

Johnstown Renewables President Eduard Zaydman said Friday he couldn’t comment because he hadn’t seen CHA’s lien document.

CHA Consulting Vice President Thomas D. Titsworth Jr., the firm regional counsel, filed the mechanic lien. He wrote that the lien was filed because his firm was “unpaid for materials furnished, labor performed and equipment used.”

“The labor was first performed and materials first furnished on or about March 21, 2016,” CHA’s lien states.

The firm notes that the last labor and materials were furnished at the Johnstown Industrial Park site on April 7.

Last spring, Johnstown Renewables shut down construction at its 224 Enterprise Road site for an unspecified reason. The building is halfway completed.

Mayor Vern Jackson has said the death of a primary investor – believed to have passed away March 30 – may have led to the project folding. That has not been independently verified by The Leader-Herald.

The Fage USA yogurt plant on Aug. 3 filed a $20 million to $50 million breach of contract lawsuit against Johnstown Renewables, the firm whose unfinished facility it was supposed to purchase acid whey from.

Legal action by Fage through state Supreme Court in Johnstown requested four courses of action. The first seeks no less than $20 million in damages from Johnstown Renewables. The second calls for the easement previously granted to Johnstown Renewables be declared null and void. The third action seeks damages not less than $50 million for leaving storage tanks and other equipment on Fage’s nearly property. The fourth course of action calls for a court order to have the items removed.

The Johnstown Common Council in August 2016 granted a permanent pipeline easement agreement to assist Johnstown Renewables. The city previously received a $405,000 federal Small Cities Community Development Block Grant to assist the company.

Consultant/grant writer Nicholas Zabawsky was hired to administrate the grant for the city of Johnstown. The council previously accepted a consultant proposal from Orion Management Co. of Amsterdam — not to exceed $17,000 — for administration of the grant.

The Fulton County Industrial Development Agency last spring finalized a building arrangement with Johnstown Renewables. The firm purchased the building last year. The IDA is extending Payment In Lieu of Taxes and sales tax exemptions to the company.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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