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Terry Platt says he's done investing in Genesee County after city denies rooming house application

Terry Platt, a landlord who owns numerous properties, says he's done investing in Genesee County.

On Tuesday, the City of Batavia Planning Board voted unanimously to disapprove Platt's proposal to convert a single family home at 316 E. Main St. into a boarding house.

"I hate to say it, because I would love to stay here and spend my money in the city, but after today, I think they've proved to me that Terry Platt's not wanted in this city," Platt said. "Therefore I will be looking to sell some things, but keep many so I can keep the income and take it to a different city that deserves it."

According to Platt, he put down $5,000 on a purchase offer for the property after city officials assured him the parcel was properly zoned for a rooming house and approval of his application wouldn't be a problem.

Then, last Friday, in a meeting with the city, he got the impression the attitude had changed.  Sudden, he said, city officials had found laws that limit the size of the rooming house.

He was told that instead of 12 rooms, he could only have nine, if approved.

At Tuesday's meeting, council members Rose Mary Christian and Kathy Briggs, along with John Roach and two neighboring property owners spoke against Platt's plans.

Christian noted that 316 E. Main St. is next to a pair of well-maintained Victorian-era houses, including one that won an award from the Landmark Society this year.

"These are extraordinary properties that are well maintained and cared for by the owners," Christian said.

Both Christian and Briggs noted that converting a single-family home to a multi-unit dwelling goes against the city's recently adopted strategic plan, which aims to convert many of the existing apartment buildings that were once single-family homes back to single-family homes.

Roach objected to the idea that Platt would likely take in NYS parolees as tenants.

Christian noted that some of Platt's properties have sex offenders living in the dwellings.

April Walroot, Platt's property manager, said out of the 28 rooms the company has rented now, only four are the homes of registered sex offenders.

She also said that because the house is within 500 feet of a school -- St. Joseph's -- NYS Parole won't allow sex offenders to be placed in the residence.

According to this online mapping tool, St. Joe's is more than 800 feet from the house, as is the Richmond Memorial Library. 

Elizabeth Jess, who recently acquired the red brick home next to 316, said she and her husband bought it because the neighboring homes were single family and well maintained. She said she was worried about sex offenders moving into a residence next to her family.

"If there was ever any indication this could happen, we never would have bought this home," she said.

The Bialys, who own the recently designated Landmark home, have invested thousands and thousands of dollars into maintaining their house and they are concerned that putting a rooming house two doors down from their home would diminish the value.

Platt said, yes, his company does work with NYS Parole to find homes for former prison inmates. He also said all of his rooming homes are supervised and there are rules enforced on the residents. There's a strong motivation to obey the rules, Platt said, because offenses get reported back to parole officers.

It's an advantage to the city, he said, to have parolees living at his properties rather than elsewhere in the city because they are expected to follow certain rules and are monitored by the property manager.

The conversion also fits within the city's strategic plan, Platt said, because they city wants more residents downtown.

"We have a location downtown where people will be able to walk to everything and be able to spend their money downtown, keep the traffic downtown," Pratt said. "It will be a positive for the city."

After the application was denied, Pratt talked of possible legal action. He said he will consult with an attorney.

He feels there is an issue with the city giving him indications it would be approved and then, from his point of view, changing the rules at the last minute, and he also feels the city is discriminating against a certain class of people.

"There is a shortage of this type of housing for the good people who need a place to live," Platt said.

The denial is just one more piece of evidence, Platt said, that the city doesn't want him around so he's going to stop investing his money locally.

"It's pretty obvious the City has made many gestures and many ways to let Terry Platt know he's not wanted in the City of Batavia," Platt said.

Asked if the City isn't also making it harder for other landlords to do business, or was he just being singled out, Platt said, "It has lot to do with Terry Platt and his rooming houses, because how can they let a single-family home on Oak Street be converted to a rooming house several years ago and now all the sudden they don't want to see rooming houses near downtown where they need the traffic?"

Jason Crater
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Jason Crater thinks Terry Platt spends a lot of time talking about himself in the third person.

cj sruger
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well, bye

jason reese
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I rented from Mr. Platt and he ran a tight ship. These uppity politicians are the one's ruining Batavia, Ny. We need more rooming houses, because Batavia, Ny is a growing community and again welfare and parole are the norm, they have have a right to housing also, if the city doesn't want to, private ownership such as Mr. platt should be welcomed.

Bob Heininger
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The City changing the rules at the last minute?

Yes siree, I can see that happening. Behind closed doors even. I've got an illegal parking lot adjacent to my residential property which was not there when I purchased my home, and a paper trail, to prove it.

Based on personal experience, Mr Platt would be better off investing in other properties than shelling out money to attorneys to fight this methinks. On his leaving the community though, to each his own. But if you gotta' go, don't let the door hit you on the arse on the way out.

Dave Olsen
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"Both Christian and Briggs noted that converting a single-family home to a multi-unit dwelling goes against the city's recently adopted strategic plan, which aims to convert many of the existing apartment buildings that were once single-family homes back to single-family homes."

How exactly is the city council making this happen? Does it bother anyone else that the city has a strategic plan to tell people what to do with their property? Is this city-wide or just for selected areas?

Jason Crater
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I think we're seeing how it happens...They decide not to approve permit applications for landlords proposing multi-unit dwellings.

Kyle Couchman
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I'm on the fence on this one. I worked for almost 20 yrs in this area and I can see that Mr. Platt has a reputation. However the city is abusing their powers here I think. After all rooming houses dont only house Sex offenders and parolees, they also house students and with GCC expanding more and more and doing well it's gonna get crowded in College Village. Students tend to branch out and look for places like this to be able to get to shopping and such. Methinks this could simply be solved by an agreement by Platt and the City not to rent to parolees or sex offenders in this property. Its also pretty actionable it what Mr. Platt said here is true...

According to Platt, he put down $5,000 on a purchase offer for the property after city officials assured him the parcel was properly zoned for a rooming house and approval of his application wouldn't be a problem.

It can work out and I think Mr. Platt is being a bit overdramatic to get attention. But he does have a point.

John Roach
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There were two conflicting codes on how many units were to be allowed (9 or 12). The City attorney determined the 9 unit number applied.

The fact that you have a library used as an after school program for kids, two schools nearby and a large senior housing complex a few hundred yards away does not make this a great place for released sex offenders and parolees. Read the recent stories on this site about sex crimes.

April Walroot, the property manager talked about how she is often called out even a 2 AM to take care of complaints about renters and work with the police to settle the problems. That is not much of a recommendation.

And the City has grant money to convert multiple unit rentals back into owner occupied housing. Taking a single family home, adjacent to other single family homes and turning it into a boarding house is not what the city needs to be approving.

John Roach
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Kyle,
I wonder who Mr. Platt talked with about there being no problem. It was nobody on the Planning Board and they are the only ones who could have assure him of that.

Richard Richmond II
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Uppity.....uppity? It means taking liberties or assuming airs beyond one's station in life. It may also means inclined to be haughty, snobbish or arrogant.

The good men and women on the Batavia City Council, Kathy Briggs or Rose Mary Christian for example have real jobs. They do not live on the small salary they receive for their Community Service.

People on the planning board such as John Deleo are volunteers and receive no salary whatsoever.

Welfare and parole are the norm? Batavia is a growing Community and welfare and parolees have a right to housing, including pedophiles and anyone who disagrees is uppity?

Am I missing something here?

Kyle Couchman
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But just an FYI John, if you want to be historically accurate, boardinghouses were quite common in the period that the houses on that street were built. Running a boardinghouse was a common business for widows to enter into when the breadwinner died. Of course people were much more proper and had respect and manners back then. But the argument could be made as such. I'm not saying I agree as I have seen some of Mr. Platts properties, and also heard some gossip which was soon borne out through odd newstories here and there. I agree that the concerns addressed are truly concerns but it opens the door for the city council to once again begin to overstep itself. One thing about Govt be it small village or state or national, once you allow it to do something like this it will never be reversed. Look at things like income tax and such, was only supposed to be temporary, not its as sure a thing as death.

Dave Olsen
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"One thing about Govt be it small village or state or national, once you allow it to do something like this it will never be reversed."

You are so exactly correct, Kyle.

randy busch
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i notice mr platts prop. tend to get run down. i lived in brockport for. long time and we would call these slumlords people who buy a house cheap dont put any money into it and only rent to section 8 so they know they will always get their rent.

jeff saquella
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yes terry take your business to another town or city....we have enough sex offenders living in our neighborhoods....dont need any more thanks

Jim Rosenbeck
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This is an interesting debate. Some important details are missing though. Where did Mr. Platt get his information indicating that 12 units would be allowed? John Roach indicates that it didn't come from the Planning Board. It is probably safe to say that none of us want to live next door to a rooming house occupied by convicted felons and pedophiles. However, this question remains; Is it proper role of government todeny a private property owner the right to develop his property, in the manner he wants, based on speculation about who the potential tenants might be? That is an interesting question. I really hope that the ruling by the City Attorney is based solely on his best interpretation of the conflicting codes regarding the 9 vs. 12 unit occupancy. If the decision was in any way influenced by speculation regarding who Mr. Platt's tenants might be, then that is simply wrong.

Jeff Allen
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Denny Crane!

John Roach
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Jim,
I don't think the ruling on 9 instead of 12 had anything to do with who might or might not be a renter. It was a conflict in the codes, and that now should also be cleared up by Council.

I think there it is a legitimate City goal in trying to increase the number of owner occupied homes and in helping that process.

Julie A Pappalardo
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Mr Platt was also turned down when he tried to buy property from me a few years ago. The building was a run down piece of crap. Terry would have bought it, improved it, and the City THEN could have (GASP!) raised the ASSESMENT and MADE $$ off of the building...............Instead, they (the City) turned him down.....

I then got angry and gave the property to a CHURCH and it is now OFF the tax roll !! The equates to ZERO TAXES for the City for those who dont get it......The City won't let the church do anything with the buidling either, so now it continues to be just another cat ridden, vandalized, decaying building in Batavia NY. This City is doing a DISERVICE to every resident by denying good business people, like Mr Platt, in improving property. They should be doing the happy dance that anyone is willing to invest in that town at ALL not chasing good money away.

I actually had some folks at an Agency in Batavia BEG me to buy more property to help improve one of the neighborhoods there. All I could do was laugh and say that I would never invest another penny buying property in Batavia because of ........reference paragraph above.

Terry, I am ALL with you taking your $$ elsewhere, this is BS.

Kyle Couchman
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If Julie is talking about the old Backhoes building on Swan St the the reason the "church" didnt do anything with it is because they spent their money and time helping Jaquetta Simmons by funding her legal defense and so on. Juding from the way they acted during that I'm very glad that it's up for sale again, the cats make better neighbors than some.... Just saying.

So considering the attitude I have seen with some landlords in this town, it would be nice to see them leave and the city take the properties back. In the multiple unit dwellings they could sell to people who could be live in landlords in one of the units and rent out the rest til they own the building and can either keep it multi family, or convert it to single family once again. Housing where your landlord is also a neighbor in the same building tends to be much more civil and problem free.

Mark Brudz
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Sorry Duplicate post

Mark Brudz
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On one hand I can very much see Howard's point of view, and John is probably correct, that the possibility of parolees and sex offenders does make a difference to large degree, all that said, I also am reading some comments about Terry Platt that are not exactly true.

Terry employs a half a dozen or so in the city, I have personally seen him take dilapidated older homes in the city and invest a great deal of money bringing them back to code and making them at least livable, more so than when he purchased them. He keeps his money local, and supports many local businesses through his endeavors and in a few cases that I know of supports some businesses here locally by investing in them and giving some young entrepreneurs a bit of financial strength.

Just because he has purchased some older buildings and turned them into income property for largely lower income people does not mean that all of his properties fit into that category, and bringing a building to code does not mean that you have to make it comparable with the Taj Mahal.

No matter what side you all come down on this particular issue, and honestly I am feeling kind of conflicted as I am swayed by both sides, Terry invest a tremendous amount of capital in the city and has for years, so references to him as slum lord or implying that he doesn't care for his properties to code are flat out wrong.

What bothers me here is that a compromise could have been reached and judging from some council person's remarks little if any effort was made to reach it.

Bob Price
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I've heard that a local Leroy businessman will be making something out of the old Backhoe Joe's property-whether the church sold it to him or what is being made of it-I don't know. Terry lost that rooming house a few years ago next to the Victorian Manor(or whatever it's called)-I agree w/ sex offender part-no need for them to be there-but non-violent parolees should be allowed.

Jim Rosenbeck
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Howard,
I don't think I ever indicated that any of us should be able to do "whatever we damn well please" with our property. If you want to debate my position there is an obligation to accurately represent it. You can't just put up paper tigers to knock over. I continue to suggest that Mr. Platt should be treated fairly by the city of Batavia. It is an interesting debate..property owner rights vs. the goals of city council. I think we would both agree that there are circumstances where the city has a mandate to protect the interest of the many over the few. I continue to hope that in this case, the opinion rendered by the city attorney was based on his best interpretation of the conflicting codes without regard to the fears of who Mr. Platt's potential tenants might be.

Mark Brudz
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Howard, my remarks about references to Terry's character weren't directed toward you, I said I agree for the most part with your statement [Why I am conflicted]

My remarks referencing slum lord were toward a previous poster. Like I said, I find strong points on both sides as far as the meat of the issue.

Kyle Couchman
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Bob the local businessman from Leroy is rehabbing and making something of the Green Wolf Pub building on the corner of Swan and Ellicott. So far there has been nothing going on at Backhoes for almost a full year or so. Neighborhood feral cats have moved back in is the only thing I can tell you.

As for the Green Wolf I know what it's commercial part is gonna be but since I was told privately I will have to keep it private.

As for the Terry Platt vs the City issue.... as I said before, I am also conflicted. Unlike the experiences Howard or Mark related, a relative of my wife lived in one of his properties, I helped him move in and I have to tell you there were problems from the get go. So having been in this business, there are many sides to a landlord. Its can be effected by the property, tenant and such and that is what makes the difference. I have had several of his properties pointed out and seen about a 50/50 ratio of beautifully restored vs barely legal housing. Sometimes with belligerent tenants you let a property go to get them to move out. So while understandable, its not acceptable in some neighborhoods. This is a diffcult one to ponder as Mark pointed out.

John Roach
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Jim,
The issue of 9 or 12 was not the deal breaker. The issue was taking a single family home, next to other single family homes, and turning it into a boarding house, no matter how many or few rooms were allowed. When the City is trying to increase the number of owner occupied homes, this was just not a good idea

And the issue of sex offenders and others on parole being housed there so close to schools and a major senior complex near raised a valid public safety concern.

As far as Backhoe Joe's. Mr. Platt said he wanted to buy it for his daughter for an art studio. There was a concern that he might change his mind later, so the planning board approved his request, but with the stipulation he not later convert the studio into a boarding house. Mr. Platt declined to take that future restriction. He never asked for the building to be a boarding house. Personally, I think the location would have been good for one there as it is not near schools and is not a residential building already.

scott williams
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@Kyle greenwolf was bought by a Batavia resident and will be an Italian eatery..
Howard I understand fully what your saying its OK but not in my neighborhood. Though for one issue I have is the adjacent property owners bought their homes when this house was a multi-family home and even right now there are multiple kitchens, utility services, etc. In it. So how would the homeowners next door handle it if it were apartments and someone in one of the families were a parolee? In that case the city would tell them to bad. I do know after being allowed to move into a neighbor hood a sex offender has rights and it seems more than the neighbors. Is there any trouble coming out of the house to the east of this property Im curious to know who owns that one. Just adding these houses are not in a residential use only neighborhood and I think buying in an area that is not solely residential use opens oneself up to a multitude of business possibilities. I am in no way supporting sex offenders I believe they should never be released, but I do support business and a persons right to do so and Im sure out in the country you will have as much opposition but if we left them behind bars we would have none..

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