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Old River Road residents upset over property sale


MASSENA - Several homeowners on the south side of Old River Road are upset that the town is putting a parcel of riverfront landon the south side of the road up for bid.

Ed Kaneb, Jr., a property owner on Old River Road, believes the homeowners on his street own adjacent property to the parcel so they should be entitled to negotiate a deal for the land before the town puts it out to bid.

“We have docks down there; we’ve mowed the grass,” Mr. Kaneb said. “It’d be fair to offer the land to the people who cared for it.”

The parcel was previously owned by the New York Power Authority, which deeded it to the town as part of its 2003 relicensing agreement.

The Massena Town Council voted 5-0 at a meeting Monday night to put four and a half acres of land on Old River Road out for bid. Town officials have announced they are starting the bidding at $200,000.

Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said several Old River Road homeowners have attended town board meetings to share their belief that they should have the first chance to purchase the riverfront property on the other side of the road.

“One or two homeowners went to the meetings and said they are entitled to the land because they believe they are adjacent property owners,” Mr. Gray said. “They are not adjacent property owners; their land is on the other side of the road.”

Mr. Kaneb disagrees. He said in past lease agreements for dock permits they’ve been described as adjacent lawnowers.

Mr. Gray said that some Old River Road residents have suggested they might pursue legal action if the town moves ahead with its plan to put the land up for a bid.

Mr. Kaneb said the Old River Road homeowners have not yet determined a course of action. “I don’t know what plan we have,” he said. “We’re kind of in limbo as to what the town wants to do. It was my hope they would offer it to the adjacent property owners first.”

He said Old River Road homeowners would be meeting his week to discuss their next course of action and indicated the group would likely submit a bid for the property.

“Our hope is to work out a reasonable agreement and if they put it up for bid we’ll certainly be one of the bidders,” Mr. Kaneb said.

Mr. Kaneb also believes the town is asking too much for the land by starting the bidding at $200,000 for four and a half acres of riverfront property. The town council recently had the property appraised at $330,000.

But Mr. Kaneb believes this is more than fair market value, partially due to various factors that make the land difficult to develop on. These include the steep slope of the property, and a condition of the 2003 relicensing agreement with NYPA stating anything developed on former NYPA land cannot block the river view of current landowners, Mr. Kaneb said.

Mr. Gray said he thought the $200,000 asking price was a good figure to start with, as it equates to approximately $50,000 an acre.

“For St. Lawrence River property, it seemed like a fair price,” Mr. Gray said.

Town officials previously considered the sale of the land as part of a solution to this year’s budget problems. But Mr. Gray had pointed out the sale would likely take place after the council finalizes its 2013 budget in the next couple of weeks.

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