Abdulsalam Noman envisioned building a new home on the three parcels of land he purchased in 2009 for $1,500 from the City of Lackawanna.
There was one catch to the deal: Construction of the house was required within 18 months, or else the land would revert back to the city.
Those 18 months were up about a year ago, with no house built, which means the city once again owns the property on Ingham Avenue and James Street.
Noman, who was elected to the City Council later in 2009, hasn’t given up on his plan to build a house on the property.
But the current 1st Ward councilman is now being accused by some residents of using the office for his own personal gain.
Noman has asked his fellow Council members to extend the so-called “reverter clause” on the purchase of the property so he can retain the land and have more time to build. The clause is attached to the sale of city properties to prevent land hoarding.
Noman’s request was not acted upon at the council’s August meeting. But it raised a ruckus anyway, with some residents charging the councilman with trying to skirt city laws.
“If it was me that bought the property, it would have been foreclosed upon a year and a half ago,” said Andrea Haxton, a former 1st Ward councilwoman who is now one of the Council’s primary gadflies.
Haxton, who was on the Council when Noman bought the property, said the city erred in the first place by selling the land too cheaply. The parcels along Ingham were assessed at $19,000 at the time.
During the Council meeting, Noman maintained he had assurances from city officials that he could appeal to the Council for more time to build. He also said the city has rarely followed through with the reverter clause on property it has sold. He speculated that the current mayoral administration was retaliating against him because he voted against Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski’s proposed budget.
Noman did not return several phone calls from The Buffalo News seeking further comment.