ELIZABETHTOWN - A lawsuit has been filed against Essex County by a man who says it improperly rejected a bid he made at a recent county tax auction.
George Moore of Keeseville filed the lawsuit Friday. On April 30, he placed the highest bid to buy the four-lot Frontier Town parcels for $49,500. Frontier Town was a Wild West-themed amusement park that closed in 1998. Moore is being represented by Bill Russell, an attorney from Keeseville. The case will end up at the State Supreme Court in Elizabethtown.
Once Moore's bid was rejected, he and his attorney presented the county Board of Supervisors with a counter offer to buy the parcels for $65,000. The Board of Supervisors then voted to sell the land to the town of North Hudson on June 5 for $60,000, but the sale is not likely to be finalized until the lawsuit is settled, County Attorney Daniel Manning said. The sale was approved on a close weighted vote.
The town of North Hudson plans to use the land for economic development, for a new gas station and snowmobiling trails.
"I'm hoping," Moore said of his chances to win the lawsuit. "My attorney thinks the things they did were very improper."
Moore owns another piece of Frontier Town property he bought at a past tax auction.
Manning said the suit claims the county violated its own authority.
"It basically says they feel what we did was arbitrary, capricious and beyond the scope of what we were suppose to do," Manning said. "They're saying, 'Look, you did something you didn't have the power to do.'"
Manning said that's not the case, that the county had every authority to do what they did and Moore should know that.
"In an auction, the county can set its own terms and conditions," Manning said. "We set those terms and conditions, one of which, was that no bids would be considered final or accepted unless the Essex County Board of Supervisors approved each sale."
Manning said those terms and conditions were signed by each bidder with a copy of their driver's license and social security card attached to it.
"Also, these rules were all explained to them at a seminar held before the auction, and I believe it was explained to everyone at the auction," Manning said.
The county also rejected another bid at the recent tax auction due to the seller not wanting to have an easement approved for snowmobile use. Manning said the board has been talking about whether or not to sell the parcels for months in committee.
"They're not telling the truth about that," Moore said. "They had this deal all planned before the auction. They didn't let me buy it because (they said) I didn't pay enough, then then they go and sell it to the town of North Hudson for half the amount. There was no minimum bid."
The properties had $146,379 in taxes and penalties owed, according to county Manager Dan Palmer.
It's the second year in a row the county held a tax auction. Prior to that, the most recent auction was in 2008.