Model farm property subject of lawsuit
By Dan Hust
KENOZA LAKE The county’s proposed demonstration organic farm in Kenoza Lake is facing trouble before a lease agreement is even written up.
In fact, everything with the 84-acre property is on hold until a just-filed lawsuit is settled.
The county received notice to show cause on Thursday, with former property owner Judy Ann Fay claiming she was not adequately and appropriately notified of the county’s plan to foreclose due to delinquent taxes.
“They’re suing to get the property back,” Sullivan County Legislature Aide Alexis Eggleton said yesterday.
Eggleton added that the suit has not derailed the farm project, but she confirmed that future plans are dependent upon how the suit turns out.
According to Delaware Supervisor Jim Scheutzow, officials have been advised by attorneys not even to set foot on the property until the matter is resolved.
The Town of Delaware has been called one of about a dozen partners in the county’s effort to turn the former “sculpture farm” into an organic demonstration farm that would teach others whilst also researching and promoting environmentally-friendly growing methods.
However, the farm would be non-profit and potentially sit on tax-exempt land. A lease with the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) is being drawn up by the county to possibly make payments in lieu of taxes, but Scheutzow said he and his town board remain very concerned about the potential loss of an estimated $2,000 in town taxes.
“The whole concern on my part is money,” he remarked yesterday, saying he otherwise likes the concept of promoting agriculture. “We’re on board as far as going along with farming.”
Though NOFA has said it and its supporters are willing to commit $300,000 to the effort, details remain fuzzy. Legislators were scheduled to see a draft of the lease agreement in committee next month, but the lawsuit may delay that timeline.