Controversial Hammond Road property for sale

— Photo from the Albany County Land Bank

The 65 acres of land at 22 Hammond Road, once the cause of conflict in the Albany County Legislature, are now for sale through the Albany County Land Bank.

KNOX — A rural, vacant property that raised controversy when it was nearly sold to a former Albany County legislator is back on the market through the Albany County Land Bank.

The 65-acre property at 22 Hammond Road in Knox has been for sale for the past three months after the land was conveyed to the land bank by the county legislature this summer, said Adam Zaranko, president of the land bank.

Last year, Republican John Graziano, the former minority leader of the county legislator, submitted a letter to Democrat Sean Ward, who then chaired the Democrat-dominated legislature, requesting to purchase the foreclosed property for $60,000; Ward was replaced at the start of this year by Andrew Joyce.

A vote to convey the land to Graziano passed at the next legislative meeting, 21 to 17, but involved a lengthy and heated discussion of whether others, including the land bank, should have been given the opportunity to buy the property. Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy, also a Democrat, later vetoed the resolution.

“It was a completely public process,” Graziano told The Enterprise on Monday of his year-old attempt to buy the land. He also described the controversy of the sale as “100-percent internal politics,” which painted himself and established Democrats like Ward as political insiders.

The property is currently listed for $66,500. On Monday, the price was dropped from $75,000 by the land bank because it hadn’t sold in months, Zaranko said. According to the Albany County assessment rolls, the land, owned by Roberta Moeller, has a full-market value of $100,041, up over $3,000 from a year ago.

Zaranko said that the land bank will not accept very low offers but said that the asking price is just that, an asking price, and that what the land is sold for could be higher or lower. The land bank determines asking prices the way real-estate firms do, by looking at comparable sales, he said.

Graziano said on Monday that he is no longer interested in the property, but lamented that the taxpayers had ultimately lost because, no matter how much is paid for the property, the funds will be going to the land bank and not the county.

Zaranko said that typically Hilltown properties take at least six months to be sold. It is difficult to sell the land in rural areas in part, he said, because people are less likely to pass by the property. Potential buyers are required to submit an application that must be approved, which ensures the buyer is less likely to let the property be foreclosed on again, he said.

Properties must first go through the legislature to be conveyed to the land bank, said Zaranko. The Hammond Road property was one of 33 properties conveyed by the legislature to the land bank this summer, and half of those have either been sold or have engendered offers, he said. These properties were from foreclosures in 2011, he said.

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