Submitted by Howard B. Owens on May 20, 2014 - 12:36am
Greg Luetticke and David Luetticke,
owners of Frost Ridge Campground
The Town of Le Roy has filed a lawsuit that, if successful, would put Frost Ridge Campground out of business.
Frost Ridge, according to the suit, is a cancer on the community.
The chief complaint in the suit is the summer concert series in the facility's natural amphitheater, but the complaint also says the campground violates the town's zoning law, and it has since 1967.
The defendant's uses and occupancy of the property, the suit states, "corrupt the general area so as to destroy the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of residents of the Town in the vicinity, having endangered, impaired and imperiled and threaten to endanger, impair, imperil the health of the public."
The campground, that paragraph continues, "(has) caused and will cause irreparable injury to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the town."
No evidence of such harm is stated in the complaint, which was filed May 2.
While the suit purports to represent all the residents of the town, the town's own Frost Ridge file -- a copy was obtained by The Batavian through a FOIL request -- lists only one neighboring couple as ever filing any written complaints about Frost Ridge.
"By reason of the foregoing, Plaintiff and residents and taxpayers of the Town will continue to suffer great and irreparable harm, damage and injury from the further continuance of the public nuisance, which cannot be caused to cease except by the injunctive order and in a court of equity," the suit states.
Frostridge, operating under various names over its long history, was opened as a winter ski resort in 1957 and has included campground sites since at least 1961, according to the town's documents.
It's currently owned by David Luetticke and Greg Luetticke, who purchased the business in 2008 and moved from San Diego to Le Roy to operate it.
In 2012, David and Greg started a summer concert series, but records show they weren't the first owners to host live music at the campground.
Last summer, David and Marney Cleere started complaining about the concerts and since then the Town has built a long paper trail of town board meetings, zoning board meetings, attorneys' letters, accusations and counter claims as the town has sought to block David and Greg from bringing some of the nation's biggest country stars to Le Roy.
A hearing on the suit is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the Genesee County Supreme Court in front of Judge Robert C. Noonan.
The lawsuit takes direct aim at the concerts and an alleged plan by David and Greg to open a bar and grill called The Barn on the property.
It also accuses the previous owners of operating and expanding the property as a campground illegally.
"In June 1998, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) held a public hearing concerning the upcoming sale of the premises by Frost Ridge, Inc., to Molly Perry," the suit reads. "The ZBA determined, erroneously in the view of the current Town Board, that the use of the premises as a campground was a preexisting nonconforming use and thus could continue to be used as a campground after her purchase of the premises."
The property sits within a residential/agriculture zone that was established in 1967. The R/A zone in the Town of Le Roy typically allows only for single-family homes or various types of agriculture use, according to the suit.
The campground has undergone several expansions that violated even a nonconforming use allowance, if such a use were even permitted, which it doesn't, the suit states.
And now what David and Greg have done, and want to do, with their country music concerts and proposed restaurant and continued family camping fun is a cancer that must be eradicated, the suit alleges.
"The size and scope of the planned uses are unsuitable and inappropriate for the area, constituting a maligancy which cannot be allowed to metastasize any further," the suit reads.
The suit was written and filed by Le Roy attorney Reid A. Whiting.
In recent years, Frostridge has booked such name acts as Marty Stuart, the Little River Band, Restless Heart, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Connie Smith -- a 2012 inductee of Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame, Jerrod Neimann, Jo Dee Messina and Phil Vassar as well as rising stars like Blackjack Billy.
Last year's line-up included a homecoming show for Alexander native Krista Marie and her band The Farm.
The ampitheter can accommodate up to 5,000 people, making it a much smaller venue than Genesee County's only other notable concert venue, Darien Lake. But even so, while Darien Lake's concerts require a substantial law enforcment presense and dozens, if not more than 100 arrests, might be reported following a show, there hasn't been a single arrest reported at Frost Ridge related to a concert since 2011.
There is no immediate information available on the local economic impact of Frostridge, and David and Greg said they could not talk with the press on advice of their attorney. But from previous conversations with The Batavian over the past view years, we know they book thousands of guests every season as well as attract tens of thousands of tourists to Genesee County for their concerts.
Each season, they employ nearly 40 people for concerts and camping.
The town's file on Frost Ridge also contains an apparent notice from earlier this year of violations and an order to cease certain activities, listed by code number. It's signed by the town's code enforcment officer, Jeff Steinbrenner.
David Roach, attorney for Frost Ridge, responded March 17 and stated the notice was dubious in meaning, sweeping in scope, constituted discrimintory enforcment because only Frost Ridge is targeted and runs counter to findings in 1989 and 2013 by the town Zoning Board of Appeals that the campground was operating legally as a preexisting, nonconforming use.
Roach accuses the town of merely perpetuating a political agenda driven by the Cleeres.
"We are aware that one married couple, David and Marny Cleere, just last year expressed their displeasure for the first time with the ongoing 50-plus year tradition of live music at Frost Ridge," Roach wrote.
He continues, "they in fact demand the town 'abate the violations of the Town Code,' in what seems like a frontal assault on Frost Ridge's very existance. If not entirely arbitrary and capricious, the town's intended action against Frost Ridge may be construed as furthering the Cleere's personal agenda, which has absolutely no legitimate bearing on Frost Ridge's compliance with the Zoning Code."
The suit also alledges that the campground's current use and configuration constitutes a serious fire hazard to the surrounding area, campground guests and the campground's owners.
The town's file on Frost Ridge contains a Jan. 9 letter from the Le Roy Fire Department finding five minor possible fire safety violations, including problems with signage, no site map and no letter in the department's file on how many permanent residents there are at the campground.
The campground sits on two parcels of a combined 31 acres with an assessed value approaching $130,000.
Marty Stuart performing at Frost Ridge, Sept. 2011.
Alexander native Krista Marie peforming at Frost Ridge, August 2013.
Blackjack Billy performing at Frost Ridge, June 2013.
Phil Vassar performing at Frost Ridge, July 28. During his performance, Vassar praised Frost Ridge. He praised the setting. He praised the hospitality. He praised the acoustics of the venue. "This is a special place," Vassar told the crowd after his fourth song. "We play a lot of places around the country and there's no place else like this."