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Lisbon landowners head back to court

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LISBON –The New York State Court of Appeals is determining whether they have jurisdiction for a direct appeal of a case of two landowners contesting lands purchased through eminent domain by the New York Power Authority in 1957.

The land in question has been the subject of an ongoing legal battle between landowners and NYPA for almost four years.

The land located between Keystone and Brown Church Road was originally purchased from Lowell F. Putney, now deceased, and Mahlon T. Clements by NYPA through eminent domain in 1957, as part of land needed for the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project in Massena.

When the town of Lisbon declined to renew its 50-year relicensing agreement with NYPA, the land was to be offered for sale to adjoining landowners at fair market value.

Mr. Putney partnered with fellow landowner Mr. Clements in 2009 to file a lawsuit challenging the legality of the original acquisition of the land, hoping the land would be returned at no cost. The lawsuit was dismissed. An appeal of the dismissal was also dismissed April 5.

The second appeal was filed on May 4, claiming that the courts failed to address the difference in land appraisals offered for sale to the landowners.

Meanwhile, Kenneth L. Putney, grandson of Mr. Putney, asked the town board in April to negotiate on his behalf with NYPA recommending that the 15.59 acres of land be offered to his family at a reasonable price.

According to Mr. Putney, the land was offered to him in for $32,000 in 2006 and $155,000 in 2007.

“We’ve made a few calls, and we’re doing what we can,” Town Supervisor James W. Armstrong said Thursday. “As far as negotiations go, it’s basically one-on-one deal between NYPA and Mr. Putney, as a municipality we are limited to what we can do.”

Mr. Armstrong said a few people with connections to the New York Power Authority are working on coming to an agreement, but the negotiators want to remain anonymous.

“I have to respect their request to remain anonymous, but would again assure Mr. Putney that we are doing we all that we can,” Mr. Armstrong said.

NYPA remains “focused on the possibility of transactions with adjoining landowners for the remaining 32 acres,” despite the pending appeal, NYPA spokesperson Maura E. Balaban said.

Mr. Clements declined comment on the lawsuit. Kenneth L. Putney could not be reached for comment.

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