Warren County and EDC Warren County are being accused of breaking state law in a proposed sale of land in Queensbury from the county to EDC.
County officials want to sell acres off Queensbury Avenue to EDC, in the hope that the EDC can find a developer for it. The four lots are on Stone Quarry Road, southeast of the National Guard Armory.
But Travis Whitehead, a taxpayer activist, member of the Warren-Washington Counties IDA and candidate for Queensbury Town Board in the 4th Ward, told county supervisors Monday that state law was being broken, because the county had not scheduled a public hearing for the proposed sale, terms of which he believes lead to the county being “fleeced.”
Specifically, the county is taking far less than it should for an asset on which it has paid property taxes, when the land could be put up for bid and likely get a much better price, he said.
Under the proposal, EDC would pay just under $32,000 for 19.96 acres of land that has a market value of $330,000, when the county and state have already put nearly $1 million into infrastructure on the land.
It is not illegal for the county to sell land to an economic development organization at a drastic discount, but Whitehead questioned the wisdom of it under the circumstances, as well as the procedures being followed here.
“I’d love to see the county hold on to this property until someone brings a proposal that would bring jobs to the county,” Whitehead said. “This is not in the best interest of the county and town of Queensbury. As a taxpayer in Queensbury, I am very concerned about whether we are getting the best value here.”
EDC Warren County has a number of other pieces of land in the area near Warren County Airport that it has not had success selling or developing, he added.
There were initially concerns that $180,000 in back taxes might be owed on the properties in light of the ownership change, but county Treasurer Michael Swan said his office determined no tax payments would be required.
EDC President Ed Bartholomew said no binding decisions have been made on the sale of or potential uses for the property, but the goal would be to market it for development.
“We haven’t come to any final conclusions on the issues at hand here,” he told county supervisors.
He said no prospective tenant had been identified, but he hoped one of the region’s medical device manufacturers would be interested.