Hammond Road property gets an owner

— Photo from the Albany County Land Bank

The property at 22 Hammond Road in Knox has new owners years after it caused controversy when a former county legislator requested to buy it from the county.

KNOX — The property at 22 Hammond Road in Knox, once a source of controversy, has been sold.

Adam Zaranko, president of the Albany County Land Bank — which sells foreclosed property in the county — said that the land bank closed last week on the 65-acre property. The new owners, Justin and Maria Dale, bought it for the full listing price of $66,500.

“Which is great for us,” said Zaranko, because the bulk of the funds will go to help the land bank. Another portion, of $23,500, will be given to the county based on taxes owed.

The property was listed by the land bank in July 2018, said Zaranko. The 10 months it took to sell was faster than other foreclosed properties, considering that during that time potential buyers must submit an application and receive approval from the land bank, in addition to other aspects of a real-estate purchase.

The Dales were determined to be the best applicant, not only because of their offer, but also because for 10 years they have lived on property adjacent to the land they now own, and have a family member who once owned the property but was not involved in the foreclosure, said Zaranko.

The owners could not be reached for comment before press time.

In November 2017, former county legislator John Graziano submitted a letter to then-Albany County Legislature Chairman Sean Ward requesting to purchase the property in foreclosure for $60,000. The following month, the legislature had a heated discussion over whether to approve the purchase, with concerns that neighbors who might also want to buy the land were not properly notified or that the county was receiving the appropriate amount for the property.

The question of whether the property should be given to the land bank also came up. Republican legislator Todd Drake of Latham said at the meeting that Zaranko had told him the county would profit some from a land bank purchase. Ward agreed that the county does receive a portion of the profits.

“But it’s certainly not taxes; in this case, twice the taxes,” he added.

The motion to convey the land to Graziano passed,  21 to 17, but County Executive Daniel McCoy then vetoed the measure. The property was eventually conveyed to the land bank and put up for sale, less than a year later. Since the property was originally assessed at just over $100,000, the land bank first listed it for $75,000 before dropping the price to $66,500 after three months.

Graziano said last year that he was no longer interested in the property.

Zaranko declined to comment to The Enterprise on Monday on the original veto that eventually led to the land bank’s acquisition of the property, saying the organization was not involved in that.

“We treat every property the same,” he said.

Zaranko said that, since its founding in 2014, the land bank has sold 400 properties. In the Hilltowns and surrounding areas, he said, most land bank properties are vacant land with perhaps a structure that is knocked down by the new owner; most properties in urban areas like Albany are vacant buildings sold by the land bank.

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