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Property Law Doesn't Require Greenburgh To Bid Out Nursery

While Greenburgh does not legally have to open up the Frank's Nursery site for competitive bidding, a lawyer for House of Sports says it's within the town's "fiduciary duty" to make as much money as possible for taxpayers.
While Greenburgh does not legally have to open up the Frank's Nursery site for competitive bidding, a lawyer for House of Sports says it's within the town's "fiduciary duty" to make as much money as possible for taxpayers. Photo Credit: Samantha Kramer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Despite claims that Greenburgh has a legal obligation to take bids on the sale of the former Frank's Nursery site, it is actually within the town's rights to sell the property privately, according to the town attorney.

In a letter to the Greenburgh Town Board, House of Sports attorney Stephen Kass wrote that the town's intent to sell the property at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road without competitive bidding or a reliable valuation was "equally illegal and irresponsible."

But Town Attorney Tim Lewis notes that Section 1166 of the state Real Property Tax Law states that whenever a tax district acquires property through foreclosure — as Greenburgh did with Frank's Nursery — it is authorized "to sell and convey the real property so acquired, either with or without advertising for bids."

"I don't know what the basis is for his comments," Lewis said of Kass. "When I look at Section 1166 of the Real Property Tax Law on a foreclosed piece of property, the town is authorized to sell it at a private sale or at an auction."

Yet while it's not violating a property law, Kass said it's within the town's fiduciary duties to seek the greatest value possible for the site, which can only be achieved by opening bidding to competitors other than Game On. House of Sports has offered the town $3.5 million for the property — doubling Game On's offer .

"It's a violation of a basic duty as elected officials not to seek the maximum value of a sale," Kass told The Greenburgh Daily Voice . "While there's no statute that specifically requires an RFP [request for proposals], they must take reasonable steps to maximize sales proceeds — and that, they clearly have not done."

In addition to a higher bid, the House of Sports' complex would not require a zoning variance as Game On's proposed eight-story bubble would. House of Sports intends to construct a three-story building within the residential area's height limits, said House of Sports CEO Donald Scherer.

Scherer said the town has responded to House of Sports' purchase offer, asking House of Sports to "flesh out the details" of its proposal for the property, including the size and type of facility, which Scherer said House of Sports is working on.

House of Sports also is skeptical of a Dec. 13 appraisal valuing the 7-acre parcel at $1.62 million. On Westchester View Lane, just a few hundred feet from the site, plots of land are worth $500,000 — at least double what the appraisers totaled for the nursery's worth, Kass said.