Press-Republican

Thursday

November 29, 2012

Clinton County expects tax auction of disputed properties to take place

PLATTSBURGH — Turtle Island Trust has filed a suit over a tax auction of disputed properties in Altona, but live bids will be accepted online starting at 9 a.m. Friday.

“We have no legal responsibility to stop it (auction) so it will go on,” Clinton County Legislature Chairman Jimmy Langley said Wednesday night.

The 11 properties in question have been purchased by Turtle Island Trust in recent years. The trust was established in 1977 in a deal between the state and the Mohawks of the Ganienkeh Council Fire to settle a three-year siege in Moss Lake. State land in Altona leased to the trust became the home of Ganienkeh Mohawks, where a bingo hall, gas station and other businesses are established.

The 11 parcels lie in the Town of Altona and the Northern Adirondack Central School District, covering about 1,745 acres mostly near the Mohawk territory off the Military Turnpike. Among them are the Ganienkeh Golf Course and a dairy farm.

FORECLOSURE

The county says the land involved in the trust’s most recent purchases is not within the original boundaries set by the state agreement and is therefore subject to taxation.

Since taxes have not been paid for six years, the county foreclosed on the parcels and put them up for auction.

Trust officials say the lands are part of the trust and not subject to taxes.

“We believe the county acted illegally in taking these lands,” Trust Chairman the Rev. Donald Washburn told the Press-Republican.

“Several things were not followed that should have been, and we are going to court to get the lands back.”

LAWSUIT FILED

The trust filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court Wednesday challenging the legality of the upcoming online auction. In a news release, trust officials cautioned potential bidders.

“Anyone considering bidding on the county’s online auction is warned that he or she will automatically become a party to the trust’s lawsuit against Clinton County should he or she submit a winning bid,” the release says.

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