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Flood-damaged properties in line for state buyout program

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - Updated: 11:14 PM


For the C-S-E

More than a dozen flood-damaged properties in Montgomery County could be bought out by the state and federal government as early as this summer, officials said Friday.

Thirty-five properties in the village of Fort Plain and two in the town of Florida have been tentatively approved to be purchased in the state's acquisition program.

"We are very happy and we are looking forward to getting this taken care of for the residents of Fort Plain," Mayor Guy Barton said Friday.

Barton anticipates only half receiving final approval, since not all the properties are considered to be substantially damaged. Yet, he was pleased that the state considered the village, which was hard-hit by flash floods in 2013.

A majority of the properties to be bought out are located along Route 80, he said, but there were a few other throughout the village. Addresses of the homes could not be obtained.

Through the buyout program, eligible properties are purchased by the state and are then used for environmental purposes including open space, stormwater management, and flood protection.

While final approvals are still pending, Barton anticipates demolition of properties to begin by this summer.

"I just want it done," he said. "It's like blight. When you see it all the time you feel very discouraged but if we get it cleaned up, people will realize that the village is coming along. We worked very hard to get where we are."

Town of Florida Supervisor Eric Mead said four properties had originally applied for the buyout program last year -- one on Youngs Corners Road and three in Fort Hunter -- but one had been taken over by Montgomery County due to property tax foreclosure.

Mead said he could not release the addresses of the homes that were in the final round of approval.

Now that the process is moving along, Mead anticipates closings on the properties to occur by the summer, with demolition and cleanup to be completed by early fall.

"This was a process that started with Supervisor William Strevy but that is how it works," Mead said. "I hope to be done by the fall of 2014."

It has yet to be determined what type of impact the buyouts will have on the municipalities.

"While the town won't own the properties, there is going to be an impact because the town has to maintain the properties and do the mowing," Mead said. "It's an impact to the taxpayers as well because there is going to be properties taken off the tax rolls."

Barton said he would know by next week what type of tax impact the village will face.

Fort Plain is among storm-impacted municipalities eligible for tax rebates through the state's Mohawk Valley and Niagara County assessment relief act. The allows municipalities affected by the floods of 2013 to reassess property that suffered damage.

"I will know more after Friday in terms of the assessments," Barton said.

Last year, three properties in Charleston's hamlet of Burtonville were also tentatively approved for the buyout program but Charleston Supervisor Robert Sullivan said two of the properties opted not to move forward.

"One of the properties is going to take a buyout," Sullivan said, adding that the property was approved in a previous round of funding. "This [round] of money does not pertain to anyone in Burtonville."

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, $9 million has been allocated to the Mohawk Valley for the purchase of 97 substantially damaged properties.

Barbara Brancaccio, a spokeswoman from the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery, said the $9 million represents the state's share of the buyout program. The majority of the cost -- 75 percent -- is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"This is a continuation of a program that already exists in the area," Brancaccio said. "The program includes properties that have damages that exceed 50 percent of the fair market value."


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