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Former Van Buren mini-mart sold

Underground storage tanks put a previous sale of the former mini-mart and post office on hold. OBSERVER Photo by Anthony Dolce

A former mini-mart and post office in Van Buren has been approved for sale after originally being sold three years ago.

At its meeting this week, the Chautauqua County Legislature approved at tax foreclosure sale at 5310 Route 5 in the town of Pomfret. The property was sold for $2,750.

Last week during the Audit and Control Committee meeting, lawmakers heard that the property was originally sold in June 2018 tax auction for $14,500. After the sale it was learned that there were underground petroleum storage tanks on the property, so the sale was put on hold to assess the environmental status and potential liability.

The county and the New York Environmental Protection and Spill Compensation Fund negotiated an agreement concerning the property, where the state would remove the underground petroleum storage tanks and contaminated soil, and the county would be relieved of any liability for the cleanup, so the sale could be finalized.

Stephen Abdella, county attorney, noted the cleanup took place, however there were a couple of problems. Because of a natural gas line as well as the roadway, the state Department of Environmental Conservation was unable to remove all of the contaminated soil. “The DEC is not going to seek any further action against the property at this time,” he said last week.

The DEC did determine that any future owner of the property that did excavation or soil work in the vicinity of the contaminated soil would have to test that soil and if showed any characteristics of petroleum contamination, they would have to take additional steps to remediate the property.

Even though the property was not completely cleared of contamination, Abdella said the original purchaser of the property still wanted to buy it, but at a reduced rate of $2,750.

County Legislator Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan, noted the full market value of the property is $157,529. The back taxes owed on the property is $27,000. Even so, he backed the sale. “As far as the environmental concerns, I understand that and I agree that any future sale of this property could be hindered by the stipulations and regulations put on it by the DEC,” he said.

The property was formerly the mini-mart and post office in Van Buren.

Legislators on Wednesday unanimously approved the resolution.

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