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Lost map may prompt $855K land purchase

2014-01-30T19:30:00Z 2014-04-09T15:23:04Z Lost map may prompt $855K land purchaseDON LEHMAN -- dlehman@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
January 30, 2014 7:30 pm  • 

Editor's Note: Committee action regarding a 2005 resolution was clarified.

QUEENSBURY -- The search has ended for a map that might show a 70-year-old county easement to maintain private property near Warren County Airport, and some residents are questioning the county’s handling of the situation.

County officials contend the map is needed to show where the county has clearance to remove obstructions from a piece of property on Queensbury Avenue. The Federal Aviation Administration has directed obstructions be removed from the parcel to accommodate the flight approach to the airport’s auxiliary runway.

An easement was purchased for the property in question in 1944, but the map detailing that easement cannot be located.

That has left county leaders with the need to get a new easement. But the property’s owner — the Chartrand Family Trust — has refused to sell one, instead seeking to sell the property outright for $855,000.

The county has agreed to purchase the 52-acre site.

Warren County Attorney Martin Auffredou briefed county supervisors Thursday on months of efforts and searches by his staff that went all the way to the national archives but did not yield the long-lost map.

He said there was correspondence that showed the map was unaccounted for as far back as 1955.

“Absent the map, the delineation of the easement is unknown,” Auffredou said.

The existence of the map has come up a number of times over the years, as the county has dealt with obstruction issues around the airport.

In 2005, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution directing legal action be taken to determine the easement lines. On Thursday, a motion was made to rescind that resolution, but it did not pass.

Travis Whitehead, an engineer from Queensbury who has scrutinized the project and questioned the need for new easements and land purchases, said he believes there is enough information available for the county to litigate the issue and have a judge declare whether the 1944 easement is sufficient.

Whitehead and Queensbury resident Kathleen Sonnabend also raised questions about the purchase price of the property, which assessment records show is worth less than half the $855,000 the county has agreed to pay.

Whitehead said the county is paying nearly $17,000 an acre, when the regional Industrial Development Agency sold a neighboring parcel to the landowner in question for $2,000 an acre.

Sonnabend said she also believes the county will not receive reimbursement from the FAA if it pays more than the appraised value of the property.

County Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson, though, said the purchase price was approved by the state agency that reviews municipal real estate purchases. And Auffredou said any purchase contract would include a contingency that federal funding must be received.

The county would have to pay 5 percent of the purchase price, with the remainder paid by the state and FAA.

Thursday’s meeting, which was contentious at times, ended without any action being taken, as the meeting ran longer than anticipated.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(20) Comments

  1. summit99
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    summit99 - February 02, 2014 12:32 pm
    Thank God the Board of Supervisiors have 2 people that seem to care about taxpayers money going to waste. Hopefully if the others keep voting to waste our money, Mr Wescott and Beaty will release information for everyone to see how the others continue to waste money like it grows on trees. This fixaction by the rest of the Board on this playground for a few rich people at the airport needs to stop and it needs to stop now. When 50 people want this and the rest of the voters don't, it needs to go away.
  2. Douglas Be
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    Douglas Be - February 02, 2014 8:05 am
    continued,
    Fed, state and county tax money is all of our money.
    Tax money is tax money that you have PAID wherever it comes from. Waste is waste. This project is an insult to anyone who knows the facts. It must be halted for the sake of common sense. Westcott and Beaty will do our very best to do so.

    thanks
    Doug Beaty
  3. Douglas Be
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    Douglas Be - February 02, 2014 8:00 am
    To All,
    This little used east west runway of which the county wants to PAY 1,036,000 of TAX PAYER money to 3 different people for improved safety stinks to high heaven.

    1. THIS IS NOT needed or demanded. The FAA recommends we increase our safety zone for this very little secondary runway. IF we don't waste over 1 million the FAA can by law shorten this very little used runway. BUT make NO mistake shorting the runway will NOT harm the airport or decrease any air traffic . Jets will continue to use our 5,000 runway and the single engine props will still be able to use the secondary runway (IF they EVER need or want too which is very RARE).

    This is a perfect example of wasting Tax PAYER money,. Over 1 million dollars.

    I have a lot more information which I can release which will back Supervisor Westcott and my stance on stopping this project. I have already spent over 20 hours researching this boondoggle. They cant run from the facts.

    Regards
    Doug Beaty
  4. theMaven
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    theMaven - January 31, 2014 8:56 pm
    This stuff not funny anymore, it is severely damaging our faith in local government to do the most basic of the peoples business.

    What faith?

    I do have faith in god,
    but I believe not in Santa or the Easter Bunny,

    but I do believe 80-90% of those in office are on the take,

    how else could they make these moronic decisions in face
    of near unanimous voter disapproval?

  5. politicoQB
    Report Abuse
    politicoQB - January 31, 2014 7:37 pm
    Please, please PLEASE Post Star keep following this story. If you have a reporter who'd like to be the next Pulitzer winner in your employ, have them dig into this. If I didn't have a job, I would personally be knocking on doors getting the back story.
    Someone knows a bunch of juicy facts around this whole fishy airport boondoggle, and I'm pret' certain if those facts come to light a whole mess of local Republicans are sure to get caught redfaced with their pudgy greedy little sausagefingers in the till (or, cookie jar, if that suits your fancy.)
  6. daauer
    Report Abuse
    daauer - January 31, 2014 4:14 pm
    This article is only scratching the surface. If the people reading this think this is bad, stay tuned because something is going to break soon enough that will have people so incensed, it will be dinner table conversation for decades. This stuff not funny anymore, it is severely damaging our faith in local government to do the most basic of the peoples business.

    Doug Auer
    Queensbury
  7. local433girl
    Report Abuse
    local433girl - January 31, 2014 3:07 pm
    One more general comment: I don't expect to always agree with government. The government and our elected officials may have different views on spending priorities and taxes than I do from time to time. I accept that!

    What I have a hard time accepting is something that makes no sense to 99% of people, that isn't merely a matter of opinion or disagreement, and that looks and seems and feels like we don't know all the story. It's decisions like these -- to purchase something we already own for a boatload of money and for no apparent benefit to the community -- that lead to disrespect and its cousin, MISTRUST.
  8. selectivenews
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    selectivenews - January 31, 2014 1:48 pm
    What great comments, to bad no one is listening. The election is over, nothing changed except for Doug Beaty getting elected so the county will keep moving forward because the only two arguing against this is Beaty and Westcott. Keep voting the same incompetent people into office and you will keep getting the same performance.
  9. local433girl
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    local433girl - January 31, 2014 1:30 pm
    I'm finding it hard to believe that NOBODY -- none of the people who have ever owned any of this land, none of the surveyors who've surveyed it, none of the attorneys who did the transactions -- knows anything about the extent of the rights the county purchased in the 1940s. The easement document itself was right on file where it belonged - it's only the map that's missing. After all, we HAVE to had trimmed the trees in the last 60 years!

    I'd ask the property owners to sign sworn statements as part of a purchase contract stating that they had no knowledge of any County rights on their land until they read about it in the paper. It's odd. A title search would have found the easement -- I wouldn't have had the courage to purchase the land without knowing the extent (map) of the County's rights on it.
  10. local433girl
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    local433girl - January 31, 2014 1:25 pm
    Okay, say we accept that the map "went missing" in the 1950s. Does that mean that no trees have been topped, cut or removed in the last 60 years -- that we haven't either acted on the rights we purchased in perpetuity from the landowner in the 1940s, or that we haven't acted adverse to the interests of the landowners since then? If the former, someone must know what the extent of the easement geography is (it's not like the runway or aircraft using it have changed much in this time -- approach profiles are essentially unchanged). If not, we've created an easement by going on the property to do what we needed to do and the owner not objecting.

    This is exactly the kind of issue civil courts deal with by "discovering" facts, taking testimony and making judgments. Why won't our elected officials be prudent with our money? And my recollection has it that the Trust is only one of three landowners to be paid, for a total of about $1.15 million.
  11. theMaven
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    theMaven - January 31, 2014 10:49 am
    Protect the PUBLIC. My I love the logic. East of the runway is only woods and one of the most unused roads in the county. the chance of the PUBLIC being at risk is one in a billion.

    Maybe we should all get free cement umbrellas so we all won't get hit by a comet?

    Do these wonderful representatives actually think people believe their bull****?

    My best guess, out of respect for those involved, is that no one could be stupid enough to mistake 2$ for $17,000 an acre, someone is getting paid off, just an educated guess,
    I certainly do not have facts in hand to say this with certainty.

    Still, the fish thing, if it looks like a fish, if it smells like a fish..........it is probably a fish.

    or maybe they are that stupid, mea culpa!

    Protection of the public my foot!

    BTW, QB, I don't know why my option one or two would not fly,
    no pun intended, there is a great local precedent some years ago in SGF on option 2, had to do with valuations on the dams, Niagara Mohawk owned/leased.
  12. Benny D'
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    Benny D' - January 31, 2014 10:42 am
    Absolute loonicy! They need to stop this right now. There is absolutely no reason for this expansion. Total waste of money.
  13. Travis W
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    Travis W - January 31, 2014 10:18 am
    I love you guys ;>)
    The other issue that was raised at the meeting yesterday was that the runway is too close to Queensbury Ave and so what the FAA calls the Runway Protection Zone, crosses that road which it is not supposed to do. The RPZ is for the protection of the PUBLIC, and it seems they are only interested in protecting the airplanes. Both problems can be solved by shortening the runway at that end. It is a 4000' runway and is NOT supposed to be used by jets because the safety zones are too short for jets, At 3000' it is still plenty long for prop planes and might encourage a jet to use the 5000' main runway instead!! Don't wait for a school bus to be hit by a plane before we rip up 1000' of that secondary runway!
    If the runway is shortened the need to acquire any land across the road goes away. Save a million dollars and think about the PUBLIC for once!
  14. steveusiron
    Report Abuse
    steveusiron - January 31, 2014 9:23 am
    Do we have fools running this show !! What can we do to save ourselves from these children and their games? Everyone can see the problem but our leaders. They will just keep raising taxes, and spend more. They do not care !!
  15. robzzyzx
    Report Abuse
    robzzyzx - January 31, 2014 8:55 am
    And the airport boondoggle continues...there is NO need or potential future benefit to be gained from expanding this runway, yet the boneheaded Warren County supervisors continue to blow tax dollars on the airport runway to nowhere. $17K/acre vs. $2K is a very big difference, something smells here.
  16. politicoQB
    Report Abuse
    politicoQB - January 31, 2014 7:38 am
    Mavin' : #3 is only real option.
    Or at least treat the "FAA recommendation" as that, a recommendation -- not a requirement.
  17. lentini
    Report Abuse
    lentini - January 31, 2014 5:42 am
    You do NOT need a map to prove up and easement. If they have a properly filed easement in the county records it would be sufficient.
  18. summit99
    Report Abuse
    summit99 - January 31, 2014 12:23 am
    This article says Queensbury Ave and the MAIN runway. That road does not have anything to do with the main runway. The only flight path that crosses it is the shorter runway. For $855K, shut the shorter one and pay zero. Its not like planes are lined up to take off/land at theat airport.

    Since when does anyone just pay the asking price for land when the real value is known and is a lot less? Why has this been agreed to so easily?

    As far as the map and the easement, this is a major embarrassment that the County has no proof of what it owns. And why are they refusing legal action? We have a full time Ct Attorney. Let him earn his money dealing with the legal parts of this, before they blow nearly an other million dollars on the airport.
  19. cutwaste
    Report Abuse
    cutwaste - January 30, 2014 10:17 pm
    There is no way that this could not be reconstructed that the easement is in fact in existence.
    Since this land could be obtained by eminent domain and a fair price would then have to be determined it would seem the County is holding the trump cards here and not the land owners trying to take advantage of sloppy record keeping.
  20. theMaven
    Report Abuse
    theMaven - January 30, 2014 9:11 pm
    If the land is so damn important, why not just declare eminant domain, and take it for a fair price.

    Idea 2: Let them keep the land, appraise it for the 17 grand an acre they say its worth, tax them until their noses bleed, and see how fast they sell.

    Idea 3: Tell the FAA to blow it out their ear, and leave things as is.

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