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June 28, 2018


Coeymans Property Sale for Albany Scuttled

Problems with vehicle access, abundance of wetlands were roadblocks to deal

By Amanda Fries, Hearst-owned Times Union
Updated 5:49 pm, Monday, March 12, 2018

COEYMANS — Property in Coeymans that the City of Albany has been trying to get rid of will continue to remain in its hands, leaving the capital city in the lurch to cover $620,000 that was anticipated this year from the sale.

CM Recycling LLC, a subsidiary of Carver Cos. owned by Carver Laraway in Coeymans, is pulling out of a deal to purchase the 363-acre parcel off Old Ravena Road. In what appears to be the primary sticking point, representatives were unable to reach an agreement that would ensure access to the property from Route 144, according to a letter sent by Laraway’s attorney George McHugh to the city Friday.

An industrial park was proposed for the land.

Albany officials were taken aback by Laraway’s move, having anticipated the prospective buyer was confident it could reach an agreement to gain access via Route 144.

Brian Shea, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s chief of staff, said Friday that an easement was attached when the city first struck an agreement in 1993 with three landowners to purchase the land. The easement expired due to town law, Shea said, though he could not confirm the time frame.

“Our intention now is to hire a commercial real estate firm to market the property,” Shea said. “It’s important to know that (the sale) was never booked as a reoccurring revenue. We’ll work to find a way to absorb this” within the budget.

McHugh said the decision to void the contract was based on two issues: the inability to reach an agreement with adjacent landowner Ten Eyck Powell III for an easement to access the property off Stylababrack Road, and the vast wetlands encompassing the acreage.

“Those two hurdles are pretty major,” McHugh said. “It was going to be more work than it was worth. It wasn’t going to be a feasible option to put a future industrial park there.”

McHugh said Carver Cos. thought the city already had the right-of-way to connect Stylababrack Road to Route 144, which would serve as the main entrance into any future industrial park activities. But the city never secured that access and the town reverted the road back to the previous owners, he said.

The property can be accessed from Old Ravena Road, but McHugh said the town road has limitations on weight and developers would need to build a bridge across Coeymans Creek for access.

While Powell – who is the son of Ten Eyck Powell Jr., the former Democratic Coeymans Town Board member who made over $2.8 million on the original sale of the land to Albany – was open to providing access, McHugh said it was a narrow access, and Powell expressed concern about truck traffic.

“Based on that, we just figured that there would be conditions on this easement,” McHugh said. “Rather than go through all those hoops and tick off the neighbor … it was just a bridge too far.”

The appraisal completed in February 2017 for the city indicated a minimum of 101.5 acres of wetlands on the property as well as access issues, noting there was no easement to the property via Stylababrack Road. It also marked a significantly lower value than what the property was assessed at: a mere $620,000 compared to the $3.6 million assessment. The appraisal was made public months before Laraway expressed interest in purchasing the property.

Powell's attorney Kelly Malloy said her client has no comment in regard to the exchanges between the city and Carver Companies, but noted Powell's willingness to provide access to the business.

"Our offer still stands," she said. "They wouldn't have offered an easement if they were not interested in seeing that land being used and up to its potential."

Referring to the second impediment to the sale, McHugh noted that more than 60 percent of the tract's 363 acres are wetlands.

“That’s a considerable amount of wetlands on the property – more than we had anticipated,” he said.

The city grieved this assessment last year, and Shea said it was successful in knocking the calculation down to the appraiser’s $620,000 value. The city previously paid roughly $100,000 annually in property and school taxes. A reduction in the assessment means Albany will pay roughly $18,000 going forward, Shea said.

The land was once slated to become the home of a new city dump, a plan pushed by former Mayor Jerry Jennings' administration. But it was stymied due to residents' opposition and the federal government marking some acreage as protected by wetlands.

The recent appraisal states that the city paid three landowners roughly $5 million over 10 years for the property, finally taking ownership in 2006 — though previous Times Union reporting holds that the city paid nearly $5.2 million to the landowners over 13 years.