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Court rules against preservationist appeal to stall demolition of the Great Northern Grain Elevator

The court ruled that the preservationist did not present evidence that the decision to condemn the building was not rational or had no basis in fact.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, Fourth Department ruled Monday on the emergency demolition order for the Great Northern Grain Elevator.

The court ruled against the preservationists and denied both the preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order which prevented the building from being demolished.  

The grain elevator was damaged during a windstorm last December. 

The City of Buffalo had issued a permit to demolish the structure. But those who want to preserve the historic grain elevator believe it can be saved.

The preservationists needed to provide evidence that Commissioner of Permits and Inspections James Comerford's decision to condemn the building "was not rational or had no basis in fact."

"Here we are seven months on, and nothing further has happened to the building," said Tim Tielman, director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo. "Which seems to support our contention that there is no emergency, that Jim Comerford in fact, acted irrationally, with the information that was before him."

Tielman says the organization plans to appeal the decision. State Supreme Court Judge Emilio Colaiacovo gave them until August 12 to appeal, after that ADM can begin demolition.

New York State Senator Sean Ryan says the city of Buffalo officials needs to be held accountable for not enforcing existing laws on the book for property owners. 

"We're having an argument about whether a building that's been standing for 100 years and was damaged months ago could be demolished on an emergency basis," Senator Ryan said. "That even shouldn't be the conversation, the conversation should have been about the city mandating repairs on that building."

ADM provided a statement about the court's decision to WGRZ, saying: 

"We have said from the beginning of this process that the safety of our employees and other Buffalonians is our top priority. The court has now heard evidence from both sides and agrees that the City of Buffalo and ADM reasonably concluded the Great Northern Elevator constitutes a safety hazard and is beyond repair.

We also said from the beginning of this process that we respect the significance of the Great Northern Elevator to the Buffalo community, of which ADM and our employees are a part, and we are committed to finding ways to honor its legacy. In that spirit, we have begun discussions with a local not-for-profit organization to develop a list of artifacts that would be ideal to preserve and spark ideas for how they can be creatively displayed for years to come. We have talked about preserving, where feasible, a selection of items that could include a small bin, the locomotive, the spiral staircase, and repurposed bricks, among other items. We are working closely with our contractors to determine what can be safely preserved in the demolition process and what could feasibly be used by the not-for-profit."

Read the full ruling here:

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