Vacant land on Hammond Rd., seen in the distance, on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 in Knox, N.Y. The Knox land was recently sold to neighbors of the property after a previous purchase by political insider was scuttled with a veto by County Executive Daniel McCoy. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union archive) lessVacant land on Hammond Rd., seen in the distance, on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 in Knox, N.Y. The Knox land was recently sold to neighbors of the property after a previous purchase by political insider was scuttled … more
Photo: Lori Van Buren
Photo: Lori Van Buren
KNOX – In what began as a questionable land sale to a political insider has ended with a 65-acre site going to an adjacent property owner and daughter of the previous owner of the land.
Vacant land at 22 Hammond Road in Knox was poised to go to a limited liability corporation, Johnnick LLC – associated with John Graziano Jr., a former Colonie Republican legislator and president of an Albany-based lobbying firm – but the sale was scuttled with a veto by Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy amid concerns raised by county legislators.
This allowed the Hammond Road property to go to the Albany County Land Bank, as was originally intended, and put the lot on the map for Knox resident Maria Dale.
Dale, who lives at the end of the dead-end road in Knox with her husband Justin and three children, said they had no idea the property had been foreclosed upon nor that it was available until the Land Bank posted ‘for sale’ signs.
“We’re wilderness people and we love to live in the middle of nowhere,” she said. “Neighbors were concerned about development, and we kind of want to keep it how it is. It’s a place for my kids to play.”
Dale closed on the sale of the land earlier this week. She paid $66,500, which is more than what originally had been offered by Graziano.
The land originally was owned by Dale’s mother, Roberta Moeller, who passed away 13 years ago, Dale said. She was unaware that her father, John Papa, hadn’t paid taxes on the land, and it eventually went into foreclosure.
Dale grew up on Hammond Road, her parents buying a house in 1982 before she was born, she said. Before her family’s move to the Knox property, Dale said the land had at one time been farmland until the owner started selling parcels.
The vacant land runs along the right side of Hammond Road and a portion of Drumm Road. It’s about a mile off Route 146, a main road through the Helderbergs.
Adam Zaranko, executive director of the Land Bank, said with this sale the county will be made whole for at least the base taxes that were owed on the property, which is $23,500.
“This is exactly what the land bank is supposed to be doing,” he said.
The Land Bank often sells vacant land to interested adjacent property owners, keeping property in the hands of local residents.
Dale said her 8-year-old son often rides his dirt bike through the property, and the land going to another person might have taken that play space away.
“I’ve been exploring that property my while entire life,” she said. “That’s why I purchased the house I’m in now because it’s in the middle of the property.”
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