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Fort Drum Vehicle Storage withdraws plan to use former plant

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Where are the vehicles going now?

City officials said Friday that the owners of Fort Drum Vehicle Storage appear to have given up plans to move into the former Northland Motors Technology plant at 968 Bradley St. after learning it would cost too much to convert the facility from manufacturing use to storage.

Ruby “Charlene” Williams, chief financial officer for Fort Drum Vehicle Storage, told the city code enforcement office Tuesday that the storage business owners were walking away from the Bradley Street plans, according to a City Hall source. Code Enforcement Supervisor Shawn R. McWayne said that while he has not received formal notice to that effect from the company, he has heard the company is looking at an alternative site on Old Rome State Road in the town of Hounsfield.

Co-owner JoAnn Sanchez-Norquist declined to comment and Ms. Williams was unavailable Friday afternoon.

The company was formed in 2005 to serve deploying soldiers who need a place to store their vehicles but has been better known in the past year for its financial problems. It will be the second time within a year that Fort Drum Vehicle Storage failed to retain a place to store vehicles. In July, the owners, Ms. Sanchez-Norquist and her husband, John S. Norquist, lost a warehouse they owned at 753 Rear W. Main St. because they failed to pay back taxes.

Last month, Ms. Williams said the business was on the rebound. During a tour with code enforcement officials, she talked about plans to move about 300 vehicles into the 60,547-square-foot vacant plant on Bradley Street. That day, she was told an engineer or architect would have to submit plans because of the change.

Ms. Williams said then that the company had a three-year lease with the hope of moving into the vacant building within a couple of weeks.

During the tour of the Bradley Street facility, Ms. Williams said she was pleased with getting the building. She said she particularly liked letting soldiers view their vehicles from an office through a large window while workers prepared them for storage.

She also boasted how Ms. Sanchez-Norquist could “pack them in,” saying there was enough room for as many as 300 vehicles inside.

Despite rumors that soldiers have heard to the contrary, Ms. Williams also insisted Fort Drum Vehicle Storage has the blessing to market the business on the post. She said in February the company still has a solicitation permit to go on the post and seek business from soldiers.

The company stores vehicles at properties in Oswego and Sandy Creek owned by Laser Transit, a warehousing and transportation company based in Lacona, she said in February. It has been operating its offices at the Hotis Motel at 23442 Route 37 in the town of Pamelia.

Meanwhile, Ms. Sanchez-Norquist has paid back taxes on one of her properties, Fort Drum Storage at 22271 Teal Drive. County Attorney David J. Paulsen said Friday she came to the Jefferson County Office Building the day before and paid $11,971.77 in back taxes on the property, a two-acre site that contains a series of self-storage sheds.

She is also losing one of her motels to a foreclosure sale. Fort Drum Studio-Tels, the former Redwood Motor Lodge, at 24097 Route 12 in the town of Watertown, will go up for public auction at 10 a.m. April 15 in the Jefferson County Courthouse lobby.

On Feb. 21, state Supreme Court Justice Hugh A. Gilbert signed the order after Ms. Sanchez failed to pay $159,435.60 on the $200,000 mortgage she owed to former owners Alan H. and Julia A. Barniak, according to court documents.

She still owes back taxes on five other properties: Sir Robert Peel Motor Lodge at 44810 Route 12 in the town of Alexandria; the former Gunns Corners Inn, 29613 Route 12 in the town of Clayton; Sanquist Properties, a 28-unit apartment building at 505 Washington St.; the Hotis Motel and an adjacent parcel at Studio-Tels at 24103 Route 12.

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