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.