Press-Republican

Local News

December 1, 2012

All 11 disputed properties sold in auction

 PLATTSBURGH — All 11 parcels of disputed property in Clinton County were purchased in Friday morning’s land auction.

Now it will be up the court to decide what happens.

“We are disappointed that the county decided to continue with the auction,” Vivek Krishnamurthy, an attorney for the Turtle Island Trust, told the Press-Republican Friday. “That is their prerogative, but in our view it doesn’t change anything, and we will continue with litigation.”

LAWSUIT PENDING

The lands in question were purchased in recent years by the Turtle Island Trust, which was established on land in the Town of Altona in 1977 to resolve a dispute between the state and the Mohawks of the Ganienkeh Council Fire.

The 11 properties that the county auctioned Friday are located in Altona near the original boundaries of the trust site off Military Turnpike.

The trust claims the 11 properties are part of the Ganienkeh Mohawk Community. Representatives say the trust is a charitable entity, so land that it owns is not subject to local taxes.

County officials contend that the lands are not part of the original trust and should be taxed. They foreclosed on the lands after six years of nonpayment of taxes, took title and scheduled the auction.

The trust filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court Wednesday, saying the county acted illegally in confiscating the lands and putting them up for auction. The suit warned that anyone purchasing property in the auction would automatically become part of the litigation.

LESS THAN TAX OWED

Friday’s sale took about 45 minutes and netted the county around $125,000, which is about $150,000 less than what is owed in taxes on the lands.

Because the sale did not yield enough money to cover the back taxes, it will be up to the Clinton County Legislature whether it wants to accept the bids.

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