By JIMMY LAWTON
WADDINGTON -- Waddington Town Board members Monday rescinded a resolution to sell 169 acres of River Road property to adjacent landowners, following advice from the town attorney.
Town Supervisor Mark Scott said the resolution did not conform to Town Law Section 90, which relates to public notice.
Town Councilman David Putney abstained from the vote, as he was one of the adjacent landowners named in the resolution.
The decision came in wake of more than 40 letters submitted in protest of the board's decision to sell the former River Road land.
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.
Anthony Zeledon, who collected the letters, asked the board to rescind the resolution, claiming that the property values were too low, and should be sold at a public auction.
Zeledon said he also alerted the attorney general regarding the matter.
Scott said the appraisals were obtained from Farm Credit East in Potsdam and the resolution was rescinded due to the attorney's advice and not because of the appraisals.
The board tabled discussion of the proposed property sales until the next meeting.
Scott said he would like to see any future town-owned property take place at a public auction.
He said the town board could force a public referendum regarding the sale of the River Road properties, which would effectively reenact the resolution.
He said the public could also initiate referendum regarding the land sales.
Although the decision will be made by the entire board, Scott wants to see a cost analysis done on the property to determine how the town should proceed with future sales.
If the property sales are brought to a vote, Scott said the public should be informed about the impact it will have on the tax base and possible future revenues that could be generated.
"If people are going to vote on this I think they need as much information as possible," he said.
As it stands, Scott says the Town of Waddington would receive about $204 in taxes from the 169 acres of water view property.
"It's basically nothing," he said.
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.
He 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.
In a letter handed out at the Monday meeting, Scott advocated returning the to the community development plan for future decisions based on former NYPA properties.
He also expressed concerns that the land sales would divide to community.
The letter can be viewed here.
The town board will meet Jan. 14.