ELLICOTTVILLE — The Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency agreed to provide sales tax breaks to help a clothing business move into a closed Ellicottville restaurant.

The business, Ava Grace Eco Fashions, 24 Washington St., is moving to 24 Monroe St., formerly the Public House Restaurant, which has been closed for about a year. The owner is buying the building, said IDA executive director Corey Wiktor.

Building purchase and renovations for the boutique clothing and accessories store will be an investment of around $500,000 by shop owner Jessica Maynard, said Wiktor, He indicated the total sales tax exemption would be under $10,000.

Wiktor said Maynard is seeking local grants and loans for the project. Office space to rent out on the second floor will be included.

Wiktor said the project fit in the IDA’s Small Business Sales Tax Program that requires an applicant apply for local small business loans through Cattaraugus County or Southern Tier West.

The sales tax exemption will be for furnishings, fixtures and equipment including new shelving, racks, lighting, countertops, fixtures, computers, phones and other equipment.

Wiktor said the IDA would use tourism destination and services not readily available provisions of its Small Business Sales Tax Program to justify the tax breaks for a retail service.

“With the pandemic, I’m expecting to see more of this,” Wiktor told members of the IDA Board of Directors. “We are starting to see restaurants and retail shuttering.”

Office space above is available to rent out.

“I see us being asked much more to help (in the pandemic),” Winter added. “If we can leverage any money” for a business we will try. We do not want to see dark and shuttered buildings.”

He called the retail store an exciting project to see in these times, while Maynard could start a private label brand of clothing as well.

“It keeps three to five employees in Ellicottville,” he added. “It puts a storefront back in operation.”

Because of the size of the request for a sales tax exemption, no public hearing was deemed necessary. The IDA board voted to grant the sales tax exemption.

The IDA board gave final approval to four 5-megawatt solar farm installations by Omni Navitas Renewables LLC on Dake Hill Road in the town of Otto.

The investment will total nearly $35 million and the payment in lieu of taxes (P.I.L.O.T.) for the four solar installations will start at $120,000 a year to be divided between the Cattaraugus-Little Valley School District, Cattaraugus County and the Town of Otto.

The IDA board conducted a lengthy discussion on a resolution updating its wind P.I.L.O.T. policies after recently updating its solar policies. As with solar facilities, wind farms will also be required to have funds set aside for the decommissioning of the project.

The updating of the policy is not just because of the proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm, Wiktor said. The IDA wind policy was last addressed in 2011.

He noted that in 2018 the Cattaraugus County Legislature passed a resolution saying that before the IDA considers any large wind project, it must have the support from county lawmakers.

In addition, the solar policy that requires a letter of support from the municipality before the IDA can approve a project would also be extended to the amended wind policy which the board is expected to vote on in February.

Wind projects have changed dramatically since the IDA adopted its wind policy, Wiktor said. Just because there is a wind policy does not mean the IDA will rubber-stamp them, he added.

IDA attorney George Cregg suggested beefing up the $150,000 the state Public Service Commission allows for decommissioning of wind turbines because of the proposed size and need to remove foundations to four feet below ground level. “It’s pretty expensive to grind down all those footers.”

IDA board member Ginger Schroder, a representative from the County Legislature, said that because of the size of new industrial turbines, any policy should give consideration to impacts on municipalities outside the town where the turbines are located.

Three towns on the edge of Farmersville and Freedom where the Alle-Catt Wind Farm is proposed — Machias, Yorkshire and Franklinville have expressed concerns, Schroder said.

“It’s no longer just a few landowners,” she said. “There are miles and miles of visual impact,” particularly with the 600-foot turbines proposed by Alle-Catt.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)