Town of Hartford in litigation over mobile home law

T he Hartford Town Board appointed Randy White to the Board of Assessment Review at a meeting last week.

White will be filling the unexpired term of Laura Chadwick, who was recently promoted as department head for Washington County Real Property. In this new position, Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff said Chadwick would need to be available to other towns in the county on Grievance Day, so she could not serve Hartford in the same capacity.

In an executive session at the end of the meeting, the board also discussed litigation with Fort Ann resident Bill Knapp regarding a mobile home he owns in Hartford.

Haff said the town considers Knapp to be in violation of the mobile home law.

“He was given an order to remedy the situation by removing his mobile home or getting a permit from the town, and he did all the steps backward,” Haff said. He was unable to give more details regarding the discussion because it happened in executive session.

During the meeting, the town board also passed a resolution in support of two foreclosure bills Assemblyman Michael Kearns is trying to pass.

“Everyone knows what urban blight is, but now we see ‘rural blight,’” Haff said. The bills would essentially determine who is responsible for the maintenance of a home or property after it goes into foreclosure.

Haff explained the two types of foreclosure a property owner can undergo: If someone doesn’t pay property taxes for three years, the county forecloses, or if someone doesn’t pay his or her mortgage, then the bank forecloses on the property.

In the latter situation, “someone still pays taxes. But in the time period before foreclosure is complete, the banks don’t quite own the property, and that could be two to three years. It’s almost impossible for a municipality to figure out who’s responsible for it,” Haff said.

What Kearns hopes to do is establish contact between a bank and a town or village, so officials know who is accountable for maintenance once a property enters foreclosure.

Haff said Argyle has also passed a resolution in support of these bills, and he will prompt the county to do so as well.

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