Real Estate

Lawsuit filed over Frontier Town sale

By: LOHR McKINSTRY

ELIZABETHTOWN — The transfer of the old Frontier Town is on hold while litigation over the sale works its way through State Supreme Court of Essex County.

Attorney William Russell of Keeseville, the counsel for George Moore of Keeseville, filed the suit Friday, seeking to reverse Essex County’s cancellation of Moore’s purchase of the theme park at the county tax auction in April.

The County Board of Supervisors rejected Moore’s winning bid of $49,500 on May 12 and later voted to sell the park to the Town of North Hudson for $60,000.

The stated reason was that the winning bid didn’t exceed the $146,000 owed in back taxes on the property, something that wasn’t explained at the auction.

But officials later said it had been an understanding of the Frontier Town Task Force appointed to recommend how to proceed with the sale.

The state Article 78 proceeding filed by Moore against Essex County and North Hudson seeks to annul the board’s actions and have the court issue a declaratory judgment for him to receive a deed for Frontier Town.

‘PREPARING RESPONSE’

County Attorney Daniel Manning III said Monday that the county will defend itself against the suit.

“We’ve been served. I am preparing a response.”

The litigation sets Friday, Aug. 8, for a preliminary hearing in Supreme Court, but Manning said that will likely be rescheduled.

The suit has been assigned to Supreme Court Justice Robert Muller.

The Board of Supervisors went into a 22-minute executive session at Monday’s Personnel and Administration Committee meeting to receive legal advice from Manning on the filing.

Last Thursday, the North Hudson Town Council voted to appropriate $60,000 for the theme park.

The purchase is subject to permissive referendum, which means a public vote would take place if a petition is filed by town residents with a certain minimum number of signatures within 30 days.

‘DENIED DUE PROCESS’

After the North Hudson figure of $60,000 for Frontier Town was established, Moore made a counter-offer of $65,000, but that was also turned down by the Board of Supervisors.

The suit alleges the board’s actions violated the integrity of the public auction, denied the highest bidder due process of law and violated the duty owed by the County Board of Supervisors to sell county property for the highest price.

Russell said Moore tried to resolve the issue outside of court before filing litigation.

“We asked the county to do what was proper.”

Now who wins the property is in limbo until the courts decide.

The Town of North Hudson, Russell said, “wouldn’t gain anything by doing the deed now.

“No third party would be likely to buy it now.”

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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