It’s time to do what’s right for the Crounse House

To the Editor:

Albany County contacts The Enterprise to try to absolve themselves from precluding citizens from being able to bid on the Crounse House.

Since when does state and county government have the right to circumvent the tax sale bidding process by placing a resolution to allow towns and villages to buy property with historic sites, preventing others from the same? Only to find out years later the town and village let the historic site fall into more deterioration.

Now the town and village hide behind the fact to sell to a homeowner it may take years to legally bind the use of such building and property. Ridiculous.

A simple deed restriction placed on the Crounse property stating it to be sold and used by the buyer for existing residential dwelling is all that is needed.

And now all of a sudden the town claims owner of property has special relaxed conditions as to permits.

It’s time to do what is right, Guilderland and Altamont:

  1. Sell the Crounse House to a homeowner or contractor;
  2. Back off with the restrictions you would not have adhered to during renovation yourself;
  3. Place a simple deed restriction on the deed only;
  4. The main house structure needs no building department permit to renovate as long as main structure is not altered;
  5. Don’t throw your ridiculous rule at the new buyer that says, “If a house needs 50 percent more cost of repair that exceeds the 50 percent more than the cost of when the house was built, then the whole house must be brought up to present-day  codes”;
  6. Yes, Guilderland, you threw that at me on an old pin-frame house I renovated one time. You made me remove sturdy 150-year-old stairs and remove and lower the second floor 7 feet, 2 inches because of your nonsense. The ceiling height was 7 feet, 2 inches so for one inch you made me lower the whole upper floor. And remove antique under stairs as you said they did not pass existing new rise and run, they were safe enough for 150 years;
  7. Let the next buyer fix this house to its original “grandfathered” condition and stay out of it as you have to date, doing nothing but cry about not having the money to do it and have further deteriorated it by leaving it exposed to the weather;
  8. When the county made its own resolution law precluding all but towns and villages it did not put restrictions on the use;
  9. The county also, by selling to the town and village for a set tax fee, cost taxpayers money, as an auction many times raises the price to the highest bidder. Is this not a fraudulent act by the county?
  10. Houses under the federal [Housing and Urban Development] program are bid to residential owner-occupied (for two years)  as the only requirement of sale and use. Only after no one is interested in bidding as a homeowner does HUD housing open the sale to contractors. So let’s be truthful here and not say how encumbered the process is to ensure the Crounse House is grandfathered going forward for residential use.After all, Guilderland and Altamont, you are guilty of buying the Crounse House, precluding local citizens from bidding on it by buying it with your special interest.

Did the county bother putting any restrictions on your deed? No.

Then you don’t weatherproof anything for years. Then you made your argument for destroying the whole historic structure with your engineering firm you paid $3,200 of taxpayer money to inspect when they know nothing about it with no experience with 185-year-old pin-frame structure. Along with other arguments of unqualified people saying no historic value is left.

Somehow county, towns, and villages have legally exempted themselves from this illegal use of taxpayer funds. They seem to write their own law and rules of the game to suit them. If I had bought this house, saying what I would do to restore it and I tore it down I would have some legal action against me I am sure.

Maybe the town of Guilderland and village of Altamont should stick to governing what they were set forth to do.

I don’t think taxpayers for land (property tax) ever had a choice to be taxed for the town’s buying a golf course. Yes, that’s right, Parks and Rec. fees bought that.

Another illegal fee for the town to hide under are impact fees when a homeowner gets a building permit. They said when put in place it is needed due to more houses in the town.

But the illegal fee — over $2,000 for a single-family house permit seems to make its way into a (pork) fund for the town to buy and build a golf course and houses, competing with Altamont Orchards golf course.

And the village seems to think the same when it tries to dabble in residential structures of which they know nothing about.

The town and village, you should sell the Crounse House for a set price as you bought it for. You did not bid it at auction. Of the $46,000 you paid, you have deteriorated the house so it is now worth less since you were not a proper steward of this historic structure. Sell it for $30,000, a fair price, and stay out of its restoration process

Bill Skowe


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