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November 23, 2010 - 10:49am

City Council agrees to auction foreclosed properties and develop two others

posted by Timothy Walton in batavia, auction, Property.

The City of Batavia has eight properties owned by people who didn't pay their taxes. Monday night the city council voted to move forward with getting new owners for the properties. It agreed to put six of them up for auction, sell one to Habitat for Humanity and explore redevelopment options for the other.

The properties consist of five houses, plus two parcels of land zoned residential, and one commercial property located at 13-15 Jackson St., which is in Jackson Square.

The auction would hopefully allow the city to gain back some, if not all, of the unpaid taxes.

Councilman Bill Cox questioned that if the properties were sold to cover back taxes, would that change their assessed value? City Manager Jason Molino said he would be surprised if some of the properties sold for the amount owed.

They will be sold for prices lower than the surrounding houses. But in a distressed sale, Molino said the price of a "spotted" property is typically considerated without regard to the higher values of those around it.

Three of the residential properties have tenants. And one of the properties on Ellicott Street will have to be condemned due to the "terrible" shape it's in.

Council agreed to sell one of the properties to Habitat for Humanity, which will rebuild the house so it can become the home of a low-income family. Council saw this as an opportunity to take a house in rough shape and ensure it would be fixed up for a new family.

This was done as part of the Housing Development program.

Council President Marianne Clattenberg said that by starting out with one house being redeveloped, it gives them a chance to "start slow and see how this program works."

Molino carefully chose Habitat in order to virtually guarantee decent results for the first rehab project. Other agencies can be explored another time.

"The goal is to refurbish these houses and put families in them," Clattenberg said. 

Habitat is currently working on a house it bought for around $17,000. But Councilman Samuel Barone noted that it has never come up with the type of money it would need for this house-- nearly $21,000 in back taxes.

Molino said that before a sale contract is written, the nonprofit organization would be asked for a letter of commitment, promising completion of the project.

The only commercial property in arrears, 13-15 Jackson St., will take some time before a new owner can buy it.

The building has some historical background, according to Councilwoman Patti Pacino. Since it's in the Batavia Improvement District (downtown), the council would like to see it developed into something beneficial for the community.

They voted "yes" to seeking development options. The council wants to see the building used for a taxable purpose.

"It's going to take time," says Molino, who will have to gather information about what can be done with the property.

He added that his office has received interest in the building in the past.

Councilman Frank Ferrando said something needs to be done to avoid these situations. Action needs to be taken to get people and businesses to stay in the area.

"We talk about it and we don't take action," Ferrando said. "That's why these things happen. There isn't enough opportunity."

Councilman Bob Bialkowski summed the whole property situation up by saying "It's just very sad."

Kathy Owen
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One of the properties listed in the cities foreclosures is 48 Riverview Parkway (vacant land). I'm just curious. Having lived around here for a long time, I've never heard of Riverview Pkwy. Can anyone enlighten me as to where this is?
Ricky G. Hale
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If the City auctions these properties off, perhaps this time the council should consider making it fair and equal to everybody; and not decide amongst themsleves who is right or who is wrong to be awarded the property, based on who they are. This is what happened last time, and I would think there would be legall issues to deal with if it happens again. By the way, I never heard of Riverview Pkwy. either
Howard B. Owens
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Here's what Google Maps says:
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Dave Olsen
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Regarding Riverview Parkway: I'm sure John Roach or someone will remember this, my memory is a bit foggy, I also don't really care much about it either. Around 1990 or so, the city or town or school district bought a bunch of land in that area with the intentions of building a school and encouraging a housing development back there. It was obviously never built, I believe it had something to do with high voltage power lines. Someone was probably speculating.
Greg Siedlecki
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Ricky, this is Batavia,NY, everything here is based on who you know. I'm sure that one of any of the councilpersons friends will acquire these properties.
Howard B. Owens
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The properties are sold at auction. It's about how much money you want to spend, not who you know. Last year, for the first time, criteria was used about how many alleged code violations a particular property owner had. There's been no word yet on whether that same standard will be applied to this auction.
Brenda Ranney
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We attended the city's foreclosure auction a few years ago in hopes of acquiring one of the vacant lots for a garden. Needless to say I stop bidding well before the lot on State reached 5k. My second choice was Spruce backing up to the graveyard. Out bid on that by a landlord when it went past 2k. The auctioneer specifically asked me if I was gonna throw another bid out, my reply sparked some laughter when I answered,"All I wanna do is grow tomatoes. To rich for my hoe". My point is that from what we saw for both vacant land and homes the winning bid was just that, the winning bid.Unfortunately, the majority of the winning bids were from people who flip houses or are landlords. Dave, thank you for the history on Riverview,explains allot. Wonder if garden tools attract electrical current from overhead lines?
Dave Olsen
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Brenda, only if you hold them up in the air and yell damn you!! (Caddyshack reference)
John Roach
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Greg, What do you base your accusation on?
Ricky G. Hale
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If the city uses code violations as a criteria again this year, that's going to eliminate a large percentage of the city's population that will be eligible. With the recent wrath of code violation letters being sent out by the new City inspectors, everybody and their brother is receiving them. If you haven't received one, just ask around, a lot of people are complaining. So where does that leave everybody? Who decides who is eligible? Perhaps if you only get one or two notices, your okay? But three or four and your out? Who decides where to draw the line? It will be interesting to watch this scenario play out. I think Mr. Siedlecki's comment has merit
C. M. Barons
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First-off, I am not a city resident; cut me some slack on details. My recollection from past discussion: code-violation scrutiny at foreclosure auctions was aimed at landlords, an attempt to discourage chronic-problem-landlords from bidding. I doubt that residents, even those cited once or twice, have cause for alarm.
C. M. Barons
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Brenda, you may want to wait until after the S510 vote to invest in a garden. Once Homeland Security does to gardeners and farmers as TSA has done to travelers...
Brenda Ranney
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Been gardening since I bought my home which was a foreclosure here in the city of Batavia. Having just moved here three months earier from California I can honesty say that other than my brother & his family I knew no one here and yet I scored a great home for a song. Word on the street is that Whole Foods is behind this bill. We here have nothing to worry about.
C. M. Barons
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I hope you're right, Brenda; then, again, the Polish Jews probably thought the same when the Nazis took power in Germany. ...No less the Africans and South Asians that bought into Monsanto's agriculture agenda and now cannot harvest their own seed for crops. Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide... http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1082559/The-GM-genocid...
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CM, Did you do any follow up to learn if this raid was because it was organic food or because they were selling "raw" food? I have not heard about problems with anyone selling organic or health food. In fact there is one store here in Batavia and I know a guy trying to add organic/health food to the business he runs on Main Street.
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C.M. I was being sarcastic forgot to type in a few of those punctuation marks. Well aware of GMO seeds & big ag biz. Would offering a discount on these city owned properties to bidders who guarantee owner occupancy be an option? That was a stipulation for my house (foreclosure) - owner occupancy for 7 years. I'd have to dig up my paperwork to verify who required it. Also if memory serves me right on the Spruce st. vacant lot there was a young man who owned the home next to the lot also bidding. Needless to say he wasn't able to go toe to toe with the landlord who won the bid. It was a shame since I could imagine a nice side yard for his children to play in. Couldn't a discount or preference be given to bidders who lived next to the vacant properties? Lack of yard is the #1 reason why my friends say they won't buy a city home.
C. M. Barons
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The raid was for selling raw milk, I believe. Raw food sales and S510, though, are two different issues- raw food regulations are currently state enforced. S510 will put food production and distribution under Homeland Security authority- federal government. Most states allow raw milk sales; although, usually the sale must be at the point of production, direct to consumer: farm to customer. S510 treats home gardeners, small farms and mega farms without distinction. The bill has been tinkered with since originally submitted, an amendment to exempt small farms is under consideration but essentially this bill will radically redefine our relationship to the food we consume: how it's grown, where it's grown and a ton of new regulations and paperwork for farmers. The original bill and the House version are so onerous, one could envision small farms dropping away en masse. This legislation was obviously tailored to favor corporate agriculture with Monsanto (Frankenseed purveyor) and other food conglomerates directly represented in policymaking. As the bill stands, there is no distinction between a home-gardener giving his/her neighbor a homegrown tomato and any of 3.5 million cartons of tomatoes grown at California's Sun-Pac Farms and sold by a supermarket.
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This bill appears to originally been pushed by Democrats, not "big business" Republicans. I found that to be ironic.
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CM, Have you read S510? It expands the authority of the Secretary of HHS (Health and Human Services) to ensure a safe food supply, not DHS. The only reference to the Dept. of Homeland Security is in implementing a national food emergency response laboratory network in the event of a major outbreak. (Sec. 203)Directs the DHS Secretary to maintain an agreement through which relevant laboratory network members will: (1) agree on common laboratory methods in order to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and information; (2) identify means by which each member could work cooperatively to optimize national laboratory preparedness and provide surge capacity during emergencies; and (3) engage in ongoing dialogue and build relationships that will support a more effective and integrated response during emergencies. Sets forth reporting requirements. I also don't see where you get that it: "treats home gardeners, small farms and mega farms without distinction". Section 101, #2 of the bill specifically excludes farms: require that each person (excluding farms and restaurants) who manufactures, processes, packs, distributes, receives, holds, or imports an article of food permit inspection of his or her records if the Secretary believes that there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to such food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death. The raid on Rawsome Foods in California, depicted in the video you posted, was not just for merely selling raw milk, which is by the way, legal in California, but for operating a food business without the appropriate business permits and inspections. The FDA was involved because the raw milk they were selling was not even labeled as to it's source. Raw milk, when improperly handled, has truly life threatening consequences. Those that wish to drink it, should certainly be allowed to. But to turn a blind eye to the food safety issues is just foolish. Rawsome Foods has since re-opened. Before any member is allowed to enter, they must sign a waiver acknowledging that they are "taking their health into their own hands" (this was also mentioned in the video clip). I don't know about you, but if I sat down at a restaurant and they handed me a piece of paper to sign that said they were not inspected and I agree to hold them harmless in the event I get ill...I would get up and leave.
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I attempted to read the bill online and was stymied by the multiple edits. I have been relying on interpretations from various groups including Farm Bureau that have voiced concern as to implications on small farms, gardeners and those who do business in organic and raw food. Part of the confusion derives from amendments and changes that have been incorporated or discussed in terms of exclusions and scope. Until the bill is finalized and public, I don't think anyone can say with any assurance what the bill is or isn't. In its original version it had wide-spread implications- most threatening, allowing Corps like Monsanto to decide policy and define risk. This bill (and the reporting paperwork it introduces) along with FDA initiatives to enforce irradiation and/or pasteurization of eggs, onions, peppers and other vegetables would decimate small farms and producers who supply organics. Although the current version of S510 does appear to exclude farms and restaurants- keep in mind that there is a House companion bill that must be reconciled with the Senate version. That bill, H.R.875, classifies establishments subject to regulation as "food production facilities:" any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation. Excerpts: IN GENERAL- Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and representatives of State departments of agriculture, shall publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of those types of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities for which the Secretary has determined that such standards minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death. PRIORITIZATION- The Secretary shall prioritize the implementation of the regulations for specific fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities that have been associated with food-borne illness outbreaks. Enforcement- The Secretary may coordinate with the Secretary of Agriculture and shall contract and coordinate with the agency or department designated by the Governor of each State to perform activities to ensure compliance with this section. LIMITED DISTRIBUTION- In the interest of national security, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, may determine the time and manner in which the guidance documents issued under paragraph (1) are made public, including by releasing such documents to targeted audiences. IN GENERAL- The strategy shall include a description of the process to be used by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Homeland Security-- A) to achieve each goal described in paragraph (2); and B) to evaluate the progress made by Federal, State, local, and tribal governments towards the achievement of each goal described in paragraph (2). SEC. 109. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE COORDINATING COUNCILS. The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture, shall within 180 days of enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, submit to the relevant committees of Congress, and make publicly available on the Internet Web site of the Department of Homeland Security, a report on the activities of the Food and Agriculture Government Coordinating Council and the Food and Agriculture Sector Coordinating Council, including the progress of such Councils on-- (1) facilitating partnerships between public and private entities to help unify and enhance the protection of the agriculture and food system of the United States; (2) providing for the regular and timely interchange of information between each council relating to the security of the agriculture and food system (including intelligence information); (3) identifying best practices and methods for improving the coordination among Federal, State, local, and private sector preparedness and response plans for agriculture and food defense; and (4) recommending methods by which to protect the economy and the public health of the United States from the effects of-- (A) animal or plant disease outbreaks; (B) food contamination; and (C) natural disasters affecting agriculture and food.
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CM, I'm not sure where the discrepancy is, but it sure seems like we are reading 2 different versions of HR875. I have been tracking both bills, S510 and HR875 on OpenCongress. I do not see the wording that you have referenced above. One important point of clarification is to note the difference between a "food establishment" and a "food production facility" as they are treated very differently with respect to proposed regulations. (13) FOOD ESTABLISHMENT (There are actually 5 levels) 3(A) IN GENERAL- The term ‘food establishment’ means a slaughterhouse (except those regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act), factory, warehouse, or facility owned or operated by a person located in any State that processes food or a facility that holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients. 1(B) EXCLUSIONS- For the purposes of registration, the term ‘food establishment’ does not include a food production facility as defined in paragraph (14), restaurant, other retail food establishment, nonprofit food establishment in which food is prepared for or served directly to the consumer, or fishing vessel (other than a fishing vessel engaged in processing, as that term is defined in section 123.3 of title 21, Code of Federal Regulations). (14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation. The proposed regulations for food production facilities seem very minimal to me. They are not even required to register. In general, there is nothing that I have read in either bill that makes the hair on my neck stand up. Maybe it's because I have worked in the food service industry for 30 years and operated my own restaurant. The food safety regulations proposed are what has been required of us all along. I think that anyone, in a commercial setting, that offers food of any kind to the public, for consumption either on-site or off-site, has a duty to maintain the highest standards of food safety. Most food safety practises are simply common sense; but those that have not been previously required to comply with any requlations may not be aware of simple things that can be done to make the food they offer safer. For example, I was recently at a local farm market to purchase some produce. As I reached into the cooler to make my selection, I noticed that the produce was on the bottom shelf. Above it was fresh eggs and packaged cheese. Most people may not have thought twice about it, but had that condition existed at my restaurant during an inspection, it would have been a violation. As far as the controversy over egg pasteurization, it is a safe choice that should be available for those that want it-just as raw milk is. And despite all the warnings, I'm sure there were still people that left their Thanksgiving turkeys out at room temperature to thaw...:(
C. M. Barons
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The excerpts were from S510... The significant amendment to S510, the exclusion for small farms and local food operations (highly contested by large corporations) is described in the following pdf: http://www.worc.org/userfiles/file/Local%20Foods/QA_Tester_Amendment.pdf It would be wise to voice concern for the Tester-Hagan Amendment to our state senators. Here is an action alert link to do so with ease: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/750/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY...

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