TUPPER LAKE - Members of the village board have differing opinions on how a vacant, village-owned lot on Woulf Avenue East should be used.
The property contains two lots. The front lot was purchased by the Tupper Lake Christian Center for $30,850 in 2012. The 4.6-acre back lot has an assessed value of $40,800, and the village has had it up for sale since 2010.
Kenneth Stoll, manager of the Tupper Lake contracting company Stoll Mechanical, recently offered the village $12,000 for the property. Under the terms of the offer, Stoll would pay $1,000 at the signing of the contract of sale and $11,000 at the time of closing.
If his offer is accepted, Stoll said he would build an office for the company on the lot.
At Tuesday's village board meeting, Trustee Tom Snyder said he was against putting a piece of commercial property in a residential zone. Mayor Paul Maroun and village Clerk Mary Casagrain both reminded Snyder that the property is zoned for commercial use.
"I don't care if it's zoned commercial or not," Snyder said. "Look around it; it's all houses. We've had enough where we've mixed commercial into the neighborhoods. It's time not to do it. You'll get the (village) planning board and they'll do it in an instant, but you know, people in a residential neighborhood expect to be protected in some way. Take a walk around it; see what's there."
Trustee Rick Donah was quick to respond.
"There's a swamp around it," Donah said.
Snyder agreed that there is a swamp behind the property, but he pointed out that there are houses on both sides of the parcel.
Trustee Leon LeBlanc said he thought the parcel had been restricted to residential use years ago, but Casagrain said the only restrictions were that it couldn't be used to build a gas or auto service station, a mobile home lot or a place for storage of mobile homes.
"Those are the only deed restrictions that we advertise," Casagrain said.
The Woulf Avenue lot is one of two the village seized in fall 2009 after the former owners of the trailer park there failed to pay their taxes. The two lots were originally offered for people to bid on them in 2010.
"When we asked the bankruptcy court to take ownership of that property, and they forgave all the back taxes and the lien holders forgave their debt on it, it was with the understanding that we had to do our due diligence to get that property back on the tax rolls as quickly as possible," Casagrain said. "It's been sitting tax free for five years now. A commercial property piece of property is certainly going to have a higher assessment than a residential property, and it'll generate sales tax, which will help the county, too. It's a win-win, in my book."
Donah said he didn't recall any discussion over zoning the last time someone bid on the property.
"The bid was from a businessman who was talking about putting in a garage or some sort of storage units," Donah said. "There wasn't any discrepancy at that point, and if they hadn't pulled their bid they'd have it right now."
After several attempts by the village to solicit bids on the back lot of the former trailer park, local businessmen Rick Reandeau and Mike Vaillancourt offered $16,000 for the property in June 2012. The minimum bid was $30,000. After some back and forth with the village, they eventually pulled their bid and purchased property elsewhere.
"There was a price issue, and then we talked about it, and I think they upped their bid," Donah said. "My concern is the bid. I think it's a little low considering the property. If there's a zoning issue there, that's what the planning board is for. If they don't have a problem, I don't know why we'd have a problem selling the property. It's been sitting off the tax roll for too long."
Snyder maintained that using the lot commercially would be a mistake.
"There's a lot that planning board does that I don't agree with," Snyder said. "We mix a lot of commercial with residential, and that's another reason we can't get investors. People don't like what you do. Sooner or later we have to change that."
Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or email@example.com.