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Low appraisals prompt supervisor’s doubt for Waddington River Road land sales

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WADDINGTON — The town supervisor thinks the town could get a higher price for waterfront properties it plans to sell along River Road, saying an appraisal might have low-balled its value.

The 147.16 acres were appraised at $145,000 in August. The land, which lies west of Leishman Point, was acquired by the New York Power Authority through eminent domain during construction of the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project in Massena. Some of the land was transferred back to the town by NYPA in 2002 and 2007.

The town offered its River Road properties for sale to adjacent landowners in August. But Town Supervisor Mark Scott protested selling the land at Monday’s meeting after hearing from several residents that the appraisals were too low.

“I think it’s a mistake and I think it’s shortsighted to sell the properties the way we’re selling them,” said Mr. Scott. “It’s my job — it’s the board’s job — to get the best price for the land. Now that I see them, I pause and I say to myself, is that what we should be doing?”

Board member Travis S. McKnight disagreed.

“Where are they?” asked Mr. McKnight. “They’ve never showed up here. I have never had one call. I have not had one person in town come up to me.”

Resident Anthony Zeledon, who previously criticized Mr. Scott and the board for trying to sell Leishman Point, interjected and said he personally would pay more for the lots.

“The prices for those lots are very low,” Mr. Zeledon said. “I think it’s premature to sell those properties. The town is shorting itself.”

But board members maintained they had to decide before receiving the appraisals.

“The board approved adjacent landowners to have first option of the land,” said Councilman David Putney. “You’re going to tell the six or seven residents that were here that they can’t have the land?”

The appraisals were performed by Farm Credit.

“I’ve purchased two pieces of property this year,” said Mr. McKnight. “Both times, the appraisals from Farm Credit were higher than the bank was. Look at any piece of property along the river. You will find similar appraisals.”

Following the discussion, the board agreed to move forward with the sales.

“It doesn’t matter who we have as an appraiser, every appraiser has a series of steps they have to go through in order to appraise the land,” said Councilman Robert J. Dalton.

So far the town has heard from only one adjacent landowner interested in making a serious offer, Mr. Scott said. The landowners have until February to purchase the property.

“After that, it’s up to the board to decide what to do with the land,” Mr. Scott said.

The village of Waddington also is considering offering six other pieces of former NYPA property, totaling 3.72 acres, to adjacent landowners.

“We don’t know what we want to sell or hold onto, so let’s get them appraised first,” said board member Craig R. Bogart.

Mayor Janet M. Otto-Cassada said the board will discuss the appraisals at the December board meeting.

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