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Residents near White Pine remain skeptical despite passage of federal CHIPS Act

A street sign named "Burnet Rd." This is the site of major renovations being pushed by Onondaga County.
Scott Willis
Onondaga County has been purchasing properties along Burnet Rd. in Clay to add acreage to White Pine Commerce Park in hopes of luring a chip manufacturer.

The passage of the semiconductor, or CHIPS Act, by congress last week was widely celebrated by elected officials at all levels, from Onondaga County to the halls of Congress. Yet the homeowners near the White Pine Commerce Park in Clay responded with more of a shrug. The park is where the county hopes to land a chip manufacturer didn't have as much of an enthusiastic response.

There was no shortage of praise and optimism for the potential of the legislation, including from Congressmember John Katko in a video message.

“So what are those benefits?  First, we need to recognize the magnitude of the investment this legislation will bring into communities across the United States. For my district in Central New York, this legislation has the potential to pave the way for some of the largest investments in advanced manufacturing in our nation’s history,” Katko said.

Despite the expected economic and national security benefits of the legislation, some are wondering at what cost. That includes Dan Serog, one of many property owners along Burnet Road in Clay which lies in an agriculturally-zoned area adjacent to the White Pine Commerce Park. He says the CHIPS act comes as no surprise.

"There is no big news. I mean the CHIPS act doesn't really change much, it's kind of expected, and there's no announcement of a client willing to build on that area," Serog said.

County and federal leaders say they’re close to securing a tenant for the vacant park. Serog says they've heard it before.

"Keep in mind this is not new, this is something that's been going on. You may have heard the term a big fish, we're on that one or 10 yard line. That's been going on for months," Serog said.

A sign that reads "save burnet road." Long-time residents of White Pine are pushing back to the potential use of eminent domain.
Scott Willis
Long-time residents of White Pine are pushing back to the potential use of eminent domain.

Meanwhile, the Onondaga county Industrial Development Agency, or OCIDA, continues to purchase properties along Burnet Road in an effort to add acreage to White Pine. Serog calls it eviction, laced with the possibility of seizing property through eminent domain.

"They use that when they get people to negotiate, people that start to negotiate with them felt they were under the threat of eminent domain," Serog said.

REPORTER: "And that's why they sold, you believe?"

"I believe so," Serog responded.

Serog nor his sister have been approached lately…they’ve refused the county’s earlier offers. Otherwise, Serog says it’s more of the same, everything in limbo, including home repair.

"With any house, you're going to have some projects going on. Maybe when you need a new roof, do we fix this, do we get a new tractor, whatever. With big decisions like that, you have to wait a second, well what's going to happen in a year or two or five, so being in limbo, it makes decision making difficult," Serog said.

The prospect of a chip maker at White Pine could generate billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs. The question remains, though, if such a facility requires the parcels of land along Burnet road, some of which have been in families since the 1850s.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at