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Monday, August 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Residents of Presidential Acres in Le Roy pursuing new suit to stop duplex development

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Presidential Acres, robbins nest

Residents of a development known as Presidential Acres in Le Roy and their neighbor Pete McQuillen are still scrapping over home building in the area.

In 2012, McQuillen had plans thwarted by a lawsuit to build a group of single-family homes for people 55 and older on 12 acres he owns off Robbins Road.

Now, McQuillen is one of nine defendants in a lawsuit brought by 12 homeowners in Presidential Acres.

The suit alleges that duplexes being built by McQuillen violate village zoning law and were improperly approved by the Village and the Zoning Board of Appeals. 

If the suit is successful, it could mean McQuillen would have to remove the buildings already completed and occupied.

The plaintiffs also alleged that the ZBA, as a hybrid body serving both the Village and Town of Le Roy, is an illegal entity that should be abolished. The village, the suit contends, should have its own ZBA.

After an initial hearing last week, Judge Robert C. Noonan issued a stay on any further development of duplexes, but primarily because the defendants didn't oppose the stay on one lot in particular and any lots not yet planned for development.

Preliminary injunctions in lawsuits are usually only granted in cases where a judge deems the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their case. 

"The Village's opposition and relatively complex zoning history of the subdivision, petitioners likelihood of success is by no means clear," Noonan wrote in his decision.

The plaintiffs in the case are Randolf Bartz, Jane Bickett, Candace Bower, David Boyce, Robert Boyce, Elizabeth Boyce, Joseph Condidorio, John Green, Joseph McKay, Stephen Moulton and Ronald Paganin.

The defendants are the Village of Le Roy, the Zoning Board of Appeals, Jeffrey Steinbrenner (code enforcement officer), Daniel Lang (code enforcement officer), John Gillard, Duzmor Painting, Inc., Circular Hill, Inc., Peter McQuillen, Judith McQuillen and John Does.

In 2012, McQuillen lost a lawsuit brought by Boyce and Town Supervisor Steve Barbeau, who both have properties adjacent to a 12-acre parcel where McQuillen planned to build homes for people 55 and older.

Boyce and Barbeau prevailed in that suit, which also named the village as a defendant, and that development was halted.

Subsequently, McQuillen started building duplexes on property off Filmore Drive, an -- at the time -- unfinished street connecting Presidential Acres with Robbins Road.

During this time period in 2013, McQuillen built a barn near the property line of Barbeau's residence.

Barbeau and other Presidential Acres residents challenged the legality of the barn, but after McQuillen requested a permit to built a house on the same property, the ZBA allowed the barn to stand.

The new lawsuit challenges that ZBA determination and seeks to have the barn removed.

In August of 2013, Barbeau confronted McQuillen over activity adjacent to Barbeau's residence. Barbeau allegedly pushed McQuillen and was later arrested. That criminal case is still pending.

(Previously: Barbeau and McQuillen feud building for months)

The main point of contention in the new suit (we'll call it the Bartz suit, after the first name listed on the Plaintiff's side) is that one side claims Presidential Acres is zoned R-1, meaning only single-family residents and other side claims that when the subdivision was created, it was planned to contain at least 10 duplexes.

McQuillen's construction of duplexes has been based on his belief, and approvals have been granted by the village and the ZBA, that Presidential Acres can have up to 10 duplexes in the subdivision.

The Presidential Acres subdivision was approved by the village in January 1989, with up to 10 duplexes permitted. 

It's the contention that development of the subdivision was suspended in 1999 and there were no plans at that time for duplexes.

A new zoning law that made the entirety of the village R-1 was enacted in August 1990. 

The plaintiff's contend, then, that the subdivision as once approved is no longer in effect and current zoning law makes all property in the neighborhood eligible for only single-family home development.

The ZBA issued a determination in June that the subdivision rules still apply to development within the Presidential Acres area.

In his own affidavit, Lang, a code enforcement officer with the Town of Batavia, who is part of a shared services agreement with Le Roy, states that if Presidential Acres is indeed R-1 and not a subdivision, several of the plaintiff's homes are out of compliance with zoning because their frontage doesn't conform to R-1 zoning.

Lang said he believes the subdivision rules still apply and the duplexes are permitted.

It will be matter for further court proceedings to determine which side is interpreting Le Roy's conflicting zoning rules correctly.

Sunday, August 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Fans happy to see their favorite band in return of live music at Frost Ridge

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Frost Ridge, Jam at the Ridge, Le Roy

To say Blackberry Smoke rocked the house Saturday night at Frost Ridge might be misconstrued.

There are no reports of windows rattling in the homes of Frost Ridge neighbors.

In fact, a deputy assigned to monitor the decibel levels at Conlon Road and Oatka Trail Road said the noise level never went much above 60 decibels, well below the threshold of 100 set by Judge Robert C. Noonan when he issued an order a few days ago allowing the concert to take place.

The fact is, at the corner of Conlon and Oatka Trail, through most of Blackberry Smoke's set, the crickets were louder than the music.

Blackberry Smoke is billed as an up-and-coming, soon-to-be-big-stars Southern rock/outlaw country band, and if fame is measured by only a few hundred die-hard, rambunctious fans, Blackberry Smoke has already hit the big time.

They did rock the house and the fans raised the roof.

The band is Charlie Starr (lead vocals, guitar), Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Brit Turner (drums), Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals), and Brandon Still (keyboards).

A five-piece combo can make a lot of noise, and inside the Frost Ridge amphitheater at stage level, the band seemed no less loud than their show in the same venue a year ago.

A sound engineer familiar with the venue predicted before the show that the hill between Frost Ridge and the homes of Cleere and Collins (the two plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits against Frost Ridge) would absorb all of the treble and mid-range of the music, while bass tones would bend some and carry over the hill.

The crickets, he said, would be louder.

That certainly seemed to be the case.

In their lawsuit against Frost Ridge, the Cleeres have claimed that they can't sit outside their home on concert nights, the noise is so loud, and that when they try to go inside and close the windows, the walls shake because of the noise.

The Town of Le Roy is pursuing a parallel suit against Frost Ridge.

Both suits allege that live music at Frost Ridge violates local zoning laws, even though the campgrounds owners, Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell, received a previous ruling from the Zoning Board of Appeals that the use is an allowable, prior nonconforming use (grandfathered in).

While the Town of Le Roy is not suing the ZBA, the town board does not agree with that ruling, or does not find it valid. The Cleeres and Collins suit names the ZBA as a co-defendant. 

Delays in the process have prevented a hearing on whether the ZBA decision was filed with the town clerk prior to April 6. That hearing will be held Aug. 21. If it's determined that ZBA decision was filed prior to April 6, it could invalidate the the lawsuits against Frost Ridge on statute of limitations grounds.

Because of the delay of the hearing and the financial toll to Frost Ridge with five previous shows cancelled by court order, Noonan lifted the restraining order for the Blackberry Smoke concert, but barred alcohol sales.

The next scheduled show is at The Ridge NY is Phil Vassar and the Morgan Twins, Aug. 23.

The slide show below also includes photos of Chris Weaver Band, one of Saturday's opening acts.

AUDIO: A recording taken during the concert last night at the corner of Conlon and Oatka Trail (mp3).

A seat front-and-center for the Blackberry Smoke set was auctioned off and $375 was raised for the Le Roy Fire Department. 

The decibel reader employed by a deputy to monitor noise levels at Conlon and Oatka Trail roads.

Sunday, August 10, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Woman reports car stolen after forgetting where she parked it last night

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy

A caller reported her car stolen. A Le Roy officer responded to take a report and investigate. He requested a "be on the lookout for" to other units.

A few minutes later, the woman called back and apparently told dispatchers, "You know what, now that I think about it, I think I left the car at Scooter's last night."

The officer responded to Scooter's. The car is parked at Scooter's.

Must have been a wild night.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 12:56 pm

The show will go on this weekend at Frost Ridge

post by Howard B. Owens in Frost Ridge, Le Roy

The owners of Frost Ridge Campground have been told Judge Robert C. Noonan has lifted his court order barring live, amplified music at the campground, at least for this weekend.

The band Blackberry Smoke headlines Sunday Saturday.

At a hearing last week, David Roach, attorney for Frost Ridge, told Noonan that if the order wasn't lifted in time for this weekend's show, Frost Ridge was facing insolvency. 

David Luetticke-Archbell, co-owner of Frost Ridge, called The Batavian a short time ago to share the news. We're still awaiting a copy of the order.

Frost Ridge will still be barred by the original court order from selling alcohol, but that doesn't mean patrons can't bring their own beverages.

The temporary suspension of the temporary order baring amplified music at Frost Ridge comes as court proceedings in a pair of civil suits against the campground have bogged down.

Two neighboring residents, the Cleere and Collins families, along with the Town of Le Roy, are suing David and Greg Luetticke-Archbell alleging that the campground as a whole and live music and alcohol sales in particular, are not permitted under current zoning.

David and Greg contend that those uses are grandfathered in by the property's prior zoning and they have two Zoning Board of Appeals rulings that support such a claim.

The Cleere and Collins' suits challenge the ZBA's 2013 determination, and here's where the case has bogged down: If it's proven that the ZBA's 2013 determination was filed with the town clerk more than 30 days before Cleere and Collins filed their suit, it could mean their complaint could be thrown out of court. Attorneys and the court have been unable so far to hold a hearing on that point

Since the hearing can't be scheduled now until the end of the month, Roach sought for his clients, permission from the court for the concert this weekend.

Monday, August 4, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Law and Order: Le Roy native arrested on warrant for first-degree burglary, weapons charge

post by Billie Owens in batavia, byron, crime, Darien, Le Roy, Pavilion

Sara E. Schimley, 24, a Le Roy native now living in Buffalo without a permanent address, was arrested July 28 by Le Roy police on a bench warrant out of Le Roy Town Court for failure to appear on two charges: first-degree felony burglary; and criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd. In addition, Le Roy police charged her with bail jumping, 2nd, a Class E felony, for allegedly failing to appear in court within 30 days of her last scheduled appearance on the original burglary and weapons charges. Buffalo PD located her and turned her over to Le Roy PD. She was jailed in lieu of $5,000 bail. Le Roy PD officer John Condidorio handled the case.

Nicole Lyn Kulzer, 33, of Swamp Road, Byron, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree harassment. On July, 30, Kulzer was arrested following an investigation into an incident wherein she allegedly disciplined a child by striking the child with a plastic golf club, causing swelling and redness in the area where hit. The case was investigated by Sheriff's deputy Joseph Graff.

Jennifer Ann Stiles, 31, of Sheppard Road, Pavilion, is charged with reckless endangerment, 1st, menacing, 2nd, and conspiracy, 5th, following an incident July 25 in Byron. It is alleged that she was involved in a dispute and discharged a firearm during the conflict. The case was investigated by Sheriff's deputy Joseph Corona.

Brandon Marshall Weig, 26, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with first-degree criminal contempt, with a prior conviction within the previous five years. He allegedly violated a court order barring him from having any contact whatsoever with the protected party. Weig is currently in county jail on a similar offense and was issued an appearance ticket on the new charge. He is scheduled to appear in City Court on Aug. 5. The case was investigated by officer Chad Richards.

Nicholas Alexander Verhoef, 18, of Spencer Road, Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of alcohol by a person under age 21. Sheriff's deputies made the arrest after he was stopped for alleged violations of vehicle and traffic law. Verhauf was also alleged to have been drinking alcohol inside his vehicle when he was stopped. The case was investigated by Sheriff's deputy Joseph Corona.

Joseph William McNamara, 19, of Sand Pebble Drive, Rochester, is charged with criminal impersonation, 2nd, and unlawful possession of alcohol by a person under age 21. It is alleged that on Aug. 2 in Pavilion he used the NY ID of another person to unlawfully buy alcohol and to possess it while being under age. Also, McNamara was cited for no front license place and open alcoholic beverage inside a motor vehicle. The case was investigated by Sheriff's deputy Joseph Corona.

Amanda Marie Webb, 25, of Colby Road, Darien, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, and failure to stop at stop sign. It is alleged that on July 29 she failed to stop at a stop sign and a traffic stop was made, whereupon a Sheriff's deputy allegedly found her in possession of marijuana and a suspended driver's license. The case was investigated by deputy Joseph Corona.

Thomas J. Mitchell, 25, of West Center Street, Medina, is charged with petit larceny and criminal mischief, 4th. He was arrested in Erie County by Batavia PD on warrants issued by City Court. He was jailed in lieu of $250 bail. He is set to appear back in court Aug. 7. The case was investigated by officer Jason Davis.

Scott Alexander Lawrence, 23, of Griswold Road, Darien, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Lawrence was a passenger in a vehicle on July 29 when the vehicle was stopped by Sheriff's deputies for vehicle and traffic violations and at that time he allegedly possessed marijuana. The case was investigated by Joseph Corona.

Friday, August 1, 2014 at 6:56 pm

The Ridge NY hosts debut Community Fun Day tomorrow starting at noon

post by Billie Owens in Frost Ridge, Le Roy, ridge ny

Press release:

The Ridge NY (formally Frost Ridge Campground) is hosting its first Community Fun Day on Saturday, Aug. 2, from noon to 10 p.m.

It's FREE!

There will be activities for all ages with the following events scheduled:

  • Noon until 3 p.m. -- NAZCAR -- Decorate a racing car made from cardboard and see who wins the big race
  • 3 to 5:30 p.m. -- Slippery Slope -- Big fun on the 300-foot-long slippery slide. All ages love this event. Bring your swimsuit and a towel.
  • 6 p.m. -- Dinner. Bring a dish to pass. Hamburgers and hot dogs available, too.
  • 7 p.m. -- Open Air Dancing. Dance until the stars come out!
  • 9:30 p.m. -- Nighttime Glow Stick Wagon Rides

Come out and have some fun with your neighbors and friends!

Friday, August 1, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Le Roy fire groups release statement regarding alleged thefts by treasurer

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy

Statement:

A joint statement issued by the Presidents of the Le Roy Fire Department, Inc., and the Le Roy Fireman's Benevolent Association

 "We are both shocked and saddened by the news of the alleged larceny by the Treasurer of the Department and the Association. Both the Department and the Association have been cooperating with the authorities including the Office of the New York State Comptroller and the Le Roy Police Department during this investigation. Our respective organizations would like to apologize to the residents of our fire community, and the Town and Village of Le Roy for any mistrust in our organizations these allegations may have caused. The Le Roy Firemen’s Benevolent Association and the Le Roy Fire Department, Inc., have already taken steps in our financial policies to keep this type of activity from happening in the future. Both our organizations are committed to providing the best emergency service to our community, and will strive to work hard to restore any loss of faith in our organizations.”

The Presidents want to remind the public that the Fire Department and the Association do not receive any real property tax money. The Association receives their money from the State Insurance Department’s 2-percent fund, while the Department’s budget is derived from fund-raising and donations.  

Friday, August 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Alexandrea D. Zoccali of Le Roy to attend SUNY Oswego this fall

post by Billie Owens in Le Roy, Milestones

Alexandrea D. Zoccali, of Le Roy, will attend SUNY Oswego, among more than 675 transfer students who have reserved places at the college for Fall 2014 classes that begin Aug. 25. She last studied at Genesee Community College, and intends to major in Zoology at Oswego.

Admission to SUNY Oswego is competitive. U.S. News Media Group counts SUNY Oswego among the top public regional universities in the North for 2014, and the Princeton Review includes Oswego in its 2014 college guidebook "The Best Northeastern Colleges," as well as its 2014 list of "best value" colleges and universities nationally.

A 153-year-old comprehensive college in the State University of New York system, Oswego enrolls about 8,000 students in its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; School of Business; School of Communication, Media and the Arts; and School of Education.

Visit oswego.edu for more information.

Friday, August 1, 2014 at 1:32 pm

It's just about the 11th hour for Frost Ridge; attorney hoping Noonan will grant permission for show Aug. 9

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Frost Ridge, Le Roy

Frost Ridge Campground is on the brink of insolvency, the attorney for Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell told Judge Robert C. Noonan during a court hearing today.

He's seeking at least temporary relief from the ban on live shows at the campground in Le Roy.

Today's hearing was held so attorney Mindy Zoghlin, representing the people suing Frost Ridge over live music shows at the campground, could make a motion to re-argue one of the issues under consideration by Noonan.

Attorney David Roach, representing Frost Ridge, would have liked today's appearance to have been a hearing on his motion to dismiss the lawsuits against his clients.

Roach was hoping there would be testimony today on when the Zoning Board of Appeals filed minutes from its September 2013 meeting where it determined Frost Ridge was in compliance with Town of Le Roy zoning law.

Roach tried to make the case during the hearing that Noonan needs to revisit sooner rather than later his temporary order barring live music and alcohol service at Frost Ridge.

Noonan wanted the attorneys to focus on coming up with a time for a hearing on the ZBA filing.

After attorneys met privately and then met with Noonan in his chambers, it was determined that the hearing will be at 9 a.m., Aug. 21.

In the meantime, Noonan agreed to let Roach draft an order that would temporarily lift the temporary restraining order and allow Frost Ridge to hold a live music concert Aug. 9.

That's the date Blackberry Smoke, one of the more popular acts to perform at Frost Ridge each year, is scheduled to return.

In open court, Zoghlin tried to suggest to Noonan that allowing any shows prior to resolution of the ZBA filing status isn't necessary because Noonan has already ordered that if Frost Ridge prevails in the lawsuit, they are entitled to nearly a quarter of a million dollars in restitution.

Of course, even a quarter of a million dollars somewhere down the road won't necessarily help a shuttered business reopen, which is why Roach is pushing for some mechanism to allow the bands to play on.

"The reality they are not facing is where the preliminary injunction effectuates the relief the town is seeking and (in previous cases) courts are loathe to allow preliminary injunctions to provide ultimate relief," Roach said during the hearing.

The big hold up in the case is getting either the ZBA's clerk or the town's code enforcement officer, or both, to testify as to a general time frame of when minutes from the ZBA's meeting in September 2013 were filed.

The town clerk has provided an affidavit attesting to the fact that the minutes were filed, she just couldn't remember when.

If the filing date is proven to be any time before April 8 (even if the exact date is not established), then Roach's motion to dismiss the lawsuits filed by the Town of Le Roy and the Cleere and Collins families could potentially be granted by Noonan.

Under New York law, people who wish to challenge a board's decision have 30 days to file such a challenge. The clock starts ticking when a written, public document memorializing the decision is filed with the jurisdiction's clerk.

Noonan ordered more than two weeks ago that a hearing on the ZBA minutes should be held immediately.

The hearing still hasn't taken place, in part because Noonan's court has been busy, which Noonan admitted, but Noonan also laid much of the blame on the shoulders of the attorneys for not agreeing on a time.

Roach expressed a great deal of confidence that either the town clerk, the ZBA clerk or the code enforcement officer for the Town of Le Roy, should be able to testify that the minutes were filed well before April 8, and probably in 2013.

The threat of losing that motion is apparently what prompted Zoghlin's motion today to invalidate the ZBA's determination favoring Frost Ridge all together.

Zoghlin's motion is for a "jurisdictional defect." In essence, she's arguing that because there is no formal document memorializing the ZBA's decision, and no formal process that Frost Ridge followed requesting a ZBA ruling, the ZBA had no authority to make its determination.

Roach said there's no written law and no case law that support's Zoghlin's position, also for a motion to re-argue a point from a previous hearing to be successful, the point must have been argued in the first place. Roach said that since Zoghlin (and she disagrees with Roach on this) didn't raise the "jurisdictional defect" argument the first time around, she doesn't get to re-argue it now.

"If the court did not have that jurisdictional defect argument advanced before it in response to my motion to dismiss, there's nothing for the court to have overlooked or misapprehended," Roach said. "The court of appeals has ruled that you cannot bring a new argument to a motion to re-argue."

If Noonan grants the order being drafted by Roach to allow live music at Frost Ridge between now and the hearing on the motion to dismiss the lawsuits, Roach said there will be reasonable restrictions attached. For example, there would be a limit on the decibel levels of the show.

"Frost Ridge, and I want to make this perfectly clear, Frost Ridge did not and does not presently have any intent of causing an unreasonable noise disturbance to its neighbors," Roach said.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Le Roy fire's treasurer accused of stealing close to $50K from department

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy
Dennis Snow

Press release:

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced the arrest of Dennis Snow, the treasurer of the Le Roy Fire Department in Genesee County. Snow was charged with two counts of grand larceny in the third degree (class D felony), 42 counts of forgery in the first degree (class C felony) and two counts of falsifying business records in the first degree (class E felony) for allegedly stealing nearly $50,000 in public funds.

“This individual blatantly abused his position and went on a spending spree with public money,” DiNapoli said. “It is alarming that my office continues to uncover instances such as this where local officials misuse their office for their personal benefit. I commend the village of Le Roy Police Department and District Attorney (Lawrence) Friedman for working closely with my staff to make sure this individual is held accountable for his actions.”

DiNapoli’s office found that Snow allegedly made unauthorized transfers, withdrawals and deposits from the department’s account, as well as from the firemen's benevolent association. Snow used the money to pay his personal bills and admitted that he forged the required co-signers signatures in order to complete his theft. The audit is expected to be finalized in the next month. Snow is due back in court on Aug. 13.

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