Waddington man collects more than 40 letters protesting town board decision to sell town-owned land on River Road
Monday, December 10, 2012 - 5:39 pm

Corrected at 8:30 a.m. The Waddington Town Board met at 7:30 p.m.

By JIMMY LAWTON

WADDINGTON -- A Waddington man has collected more than 40 letters opposing the town board's decision to sell 169 acres of town-owned land on the River Road to adjacent landowners for $103,200.

Anthony Zeledon said he has submitted 40 letters to the board requesting action to rescind the resolution that received unanimous support from town officials.

He said many more have been collected.

The nine properties were among those returned to the town by New York Power Authority during past relicensing agreements. The town has been focused on finding ways to develop the former NYPA lands since it put together a community plan last year.

Zeledon said this sale does not reflect that goal.

"It's their duty to obtain the highest value for the land," he said. "We want the town to rescind the resolution."

Zeledon said he has contacted the attorney general regarding the issue, claiming that the appraisals on the properties are too low and requesting a New York State appraiser to assess the land.

Town Supervisor Mark Scott said the resolution was reviewed with the town attorney and will be discussed at the town board meeting tonight.

"We will be talking about it tonight," he said.

Scott said he also believes the land should be sold at a public auction, although he voted with the board to sell it to the properties owners at an earlier meeting.

"I'd like to see the land sold at a public auction. It really is the fairest way," he said.

Scott said the public sale gives other residents a chance to purchase the land and ensures adjacent landowners will have the opportunity to buy it. He said it also ensures the land is sold at market value.

He said his earlier vote to return the land was made in the spirit of compromise, as the rest of the board had voted in favor of the sale.

"The people who were at the meeting knew where I stood," he said.

He had hoped the board could agree to sell portions of the land, but maintain some of the property for future development.

Zeledon said he also feels that the nine properties were being sold at "artificially low prices."

Scott said the prices do seem low, but said the sale is legal as these numbers were obtained by an appraisal from Farm Credit East, Potsdam.

Scott said the former NYPA lands have been a sensitive issue for many landowners. The properties were claimed by the Power Authority during the expansion of St. Lawrence Seaway. The properties, most of which are waterfront, were returned to the town in relicensing agreements.

Scott said many adjacent landowners feel they should have an opportunity to buy back the lands first, as in many cases the land belonged to their relatives. Scott said others feel the property should be offered to the public as they are were returned to the town.

Scott said he would like to see any future town property sales made at public auctions.

As for developing the land, he said the community plan should be at the root of any decisions.

"I think we need to go back to the community plan and do a cost benefit analysis," he said.

The board meets at the Waddington Municipal Building tonight at 7:30 p.m.