Penn Yan will seek state help for development

Gwen Chamberlain The Chronicle-Express

In an effort to clear up boundaries between real estate parcels in the area of the former Penn Yan Marine property off Hicks Street, village officials will ask the New York State Legislature to permit the revision of legislation that took place in 1972 when the village and boat company swapped some land parcels.

This step is to clear up the property title so Keuka Outlet Development can take possession and begin construction of condominiums on the former Penn Yan Marine Property.

April 29, the village board passed a resolution seeking home rule legislation that will allow the village to correct the legal description of lands involved in the 1972 exchange, which was approved by state legislation.

Mayor Leigh Mac-Kerchar says he has been assured that state Parks & Recreation officials will support the correction, but a spokesperson for the department declined to comment, saying, “The agency doesn’t comment on pending legislation.”

Kevin McAuliffe, the attorney for KOD, explained there are problems with the legal description of one of the parcels in the 1972 land swap. In that transaction, the village of Penn Yan exchanged some land near Hicks Street (Habberfield parcel) it had acquired in its Marsh Development Project in 1964 for a parcel near Liberty Street owned by Penn Yan Boat Co. That parcel, the former Angler Boat Company site, is larger than the Habberfield parcel.

The parcel in question is a smaller parcel the village acquired from Seneca Grape Juice Co. in 1962.

McAuliffe said the parcel in question is not properly identified, and its description is “off by 30 feet.”

“People didn’t really understand where the edge of the outlet was, (and) what the village owned versus what was obtained form various different people. But now we need to correct the 1972 legislation,” he told the board, explaining a new legal description has been written, and the next step will be the home rule legislation to correctly identify the parcels so the village can transfer them to KOD for development.

In February 2014, the village, KOD owner Chris Iversen, and Yates County signed a three-way agreement that would result in the 14.7 acre property now owned by the county but formerly owned by Penn Yan Marine Mfg., being transferred first to the village, then sold to KOD for development.

This is the second snag related to ownership the transaction has encountered.

In March, the village board approved a boundary agreement to clear up a discrepancy in the legal description of another parcel owned by the village.

Last week MacKerchar said, “The agreement was acceptable to everyone, including the state, but we have that one individual who is hell-bent on messing with us.”

Village resident Robert Hawley continues to question the legal validity of the village’s actions, and he says he will contact state elected officials to explain his view.

He says he began looking into the project when he learned the village and Iversen, in another nearby development, want to extend the Keuka Outlet Trail as far as Red Jacket Park, which means it will cross the property in front of the Top of the Lake Restaurant. The restaurant is owned by his sister and her husband.

Hawley’s contention is that the village cannot sell land it purchased with state park grant funds without state legislature approval.

He says the property is owned by the village should remain as parkland.