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Clarence officials looking to sell 5 1/2 acres of town-owned property to Buffalo Crushed Stone came in for some criticism this week from a resident who wanted to know why the land hadn't been offered on the open market.

Howard Melancon of Main Street in the town faulted the Town Board for seeking to authorize the sale of the land for $44,000 to Buffalo Crushed Stone at a board meeting Wednesday.

"How do you know how many buyers you might have for this property? Has it been offered for sale?" Melancon asked. "Maybe you've got a $90,000 piece of property, and maybe you only have a $2,000 piece of property."

Melancon's concerns caused the board to put off a vote on the sale so that the town attorney could review the way the potential sale had been handled. The parcel, land that used to be part of a now-defunct railroad line, totals 5.51 acres on the west side of Barton Road, near Buffalo Crushed Stone's existing site bridging the towns of Clarence and Lancaster.

Councilman John F. Love, acting as deputy supervisor in the absence of Supervisor Daniel A. Herberger, confirmed that the property had not been offered for public sale.

But town officials are looking to gain some other vacant land now owned by Buffalo Crushed Stone, of approximately the same value, and the deal would be a way of effectively "swapping" the two pieces, Love said. Since a direct property tradeoff is not allowed as a Town Board action, Love said, the cash purchase was being made by the firm.

The parcel "is really of no use in our rails-to-trails" system of converting defunct rail lines into bike paths and walking trails, Love said. He added that the land is currently something of a liability to the town, due to its location near Buffalo Crushed Stone's existing operations.

Town Attorney Robert Friedman said the town had received a certified appraisal of the parcel prior to preparing the resolution authorizing the sale. "We're getting the full appraised value of the piece of property," he said. "On the Town Board's end of it, it's more than they thought they could have gotten on the open market."

Town Board members, although they did not vote to sell the property Wednesday, voted 4-0 to declare the parcel "surplus" during the meeting. They will reconsider the potential sale at an upcoming meeting, board members said.

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