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Friday, September 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Man fined in Pavilion for storing unregistered vehicles accused of similar activity in Alden

post by Howard B. Owens in code enforcement, Pavilion

Steven Weber, recently fined $4,500 in Pavilion Town Court for violating property maintenance codes, is also making people in the Town of Alden unhappy over storage of broken down cars on a piece of property there, according to Christopher E. Gust, president of the Alden Chamber of Commerce.

Gust said Weber owns property at the corner of Route 20 and Alaura Drive that has been used to store unregistered, uninspected vehicles for a long time.

In Alden, apparently, rather than enforce the property code through the courts, the Town of Alden Board can vote to levy judgements against alleged violators.

The Alden board voted to file a judgement against Weber for $42,500 on Aug. 19, according to a board resolution sent to The Batavian by Gust.

"The officers of the Alden Chamber of Commerce, which Mr. Weber is a member of, the Alden Town Board, the Alden Economic Development Committee and nearby residents are all very concerned about this situation and the negative visual impact Mr. Weber’s property has along the Town of Alden’s main east-west route," Gust said.

As of today, he said, Weber has yet to remove vehicles from the property. In fact, he said, over the past month Weber seems to have added even more vehicles to the lot.

Weber removed the vehicles from his property at 11076 Lake Road and from his parent's property at 11256 Perry Road.

Jacob Weber, Steven's father, was fined $22,000 for the vehicles stored on his property.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Webers receive $26,500 in fines for property code violations in Pavilion

post by Howard B. Owens in code enforcement, Pavilion

Jacob and Steven Weber, father and son, were sentenced in Pavilion Town Court today to fines and community service for their violations of the state's property maintenance code.

Jacob Weber -- who entered a guilty plea July 9 to 46 violations for storing unregistered and uninspected vehicles on his property at 11256 Perry Road -- was fined $22,000 and given a one-year conditional release from jail time.

Steven Weber -- who entered a guilty plea the same day as his father to 16 violations for storing unregistered and uninspected vehicles on his property at 11076 Lake Road (the former firehouse) -- received $4,500 fine, 50 hours of community service and one-year conditional release.

A failure to abide by release conditions could result in a new charge for violating a court order and a resentencing on the original charges.

Dan Lang, code enforcement officer for Pavilion, said the violations on both properties have been corrected.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Sentencing postponed for Pavilion property owners who stored disabled vehicles

post by Howard B. Owens in code enforcement, crime, Pavilion

In Pavilion Town Court today, Pavilion Attorney Jamie Welch agreed that Steven Weber has complied with a requirement to remove illegally stored vehicles from his property at 11076 Lake Road.

There are still at least a dozen vehicles that need to be removed from the property of his parents, Jacob and Mary Weber, at 11256 Perry Road, Pavilion.

Because of the progress Weber has made, his attorney, Richard Sherwood, and Welch reached an agreement to delay Weber's sentencing for two weeks in order to give him more time to remove the disabled vehicles from his parent's property.

On July 9, Steven Weber entered a guilty plea to a 15-count indictment accusing him of violating the state's property maintenance code. Jacob Weber admitted to 46 such violations.

Both were scheduled to be sentenced today, but the sentencing has been postponed until Aug. 27.

In exchange for the delay, both agreed to waive their right to appeal whatever sentences they receive.

Under a prior plea agreement, Jacob Weber will not receive any jail time, but he could still be fined a maximum of $750 per violation of the code. 

Steven faces the possibility of jail time plus a $350 per-violation fine.

Jacob's fine is higher because of a prior conviction on the same charges within the past five years.

In court today, Steven disputed that there were really 15 violations on his property, saying that there were only 11 disabled, unregistered vehicles on his property. Sherwood reminded him he had already entered a guilty plea to 15 counts.

Sherwood said there are 18 remaining cars on Jacob's property that Steven owns. At least six of the vehicles are in fact licensed. Of the remaining cars, they haven't been removed because the brakes have seized and the wheels can't turn.

Sherwood said those cars will need to be jacked up and the brakes repaired or removed before the wheels will turn and the cars can be placed on flatbed trailers and hauled away.

While Welch was willing to go along with a delay in sentencing, he wasn't willing to give the Webers much credit for progress made.

"We disagree with the defendant that he has made a lot of progress," Welch said. "In March he received a letter containing all the charges and nothing was done. Several months went by with no progress. Now he tells the court the cars are in such a state of disrepair from their long storage that their wheels are seized and some of them need to be dug out of the earth. We are trying to work with Mr. Weber here. We've given him every chance. If he comes back in 14 days and there's a single violation, the court will have full discretion to sentence him up to the maximum."

When asked if he understood the terms of the extension, Steven Weber said he did, but wanted to dispute some of the statements made by Welch.

When his attorney tried to quite him, Steven said, "but it ends up in The Batavian and I don't appreciate what winds up in The Batavian."

Prior to the hearing, Weber spoke with The Batavian briefly and said the stories about his case have been inaccurate. He said his cars are not junk. He said he wasn't willing to talk further at this time.

Sherwood told Weber he will be able to tell the court anything he wants about the case at his sentencing on Aug. 27.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Father and son in Pavilion plead guilty on charges related to storing disabled cars

post by Howard B. Owens in code enforcement, crime, Pavilion

Jacob and Steven Weber, father and son, entered guilty pleas in Town of Pavilion Court to 45 and 15, respectively, violations of the state's property maintenance code.

Under the plea deal, Jacob Weber will avoid jail time, but Steven Weber could still be incarcerated if he does not rid his property of the remaining seven disabled, unregistered vehicles on his property at 11076 Lake Road.

Weber admitted in court today that he had 16 unregistered, disabled vehicles on his property -- one more than the law allows. He made a point of clarifying before pleading guilty that he was allowed one vehicle on the property.

The 46 vehicles on property owned by Jacob and Mary Weber at 11256 Perry Road are also apparently the property of Steven Weber.

The Webers are scheduled to appear for sentencing at 3 p.m., Aug. 13.

Town of Pavilion Attorney Jamie Welch said the agreement includes no sentence cap and doesn't limit any possible fines beyond what is allowed under the law.

Previously: Town of Pavilion begins enforcement effort on two properties with alleged code violations

Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 10:53 am

Town of Pavilion begins enforcement effort on two properties with alleged code violations

post by Howard B. Owens in code enforcement, Pavilion

The Town of Pavilion has begun enforcement action against property owners that have for years been storing apparently broken down vehicles on their parcels.

At the beginning of the year the town entered into a shared services agreement with the Town of Batavia and Dan Lang is now code enforcement officer in Pavilion.

He said the first order of business was to go after the most obvious alleged code violations, and the properties at 11076 Lake Road and 11256 Perry Road certainly met that criteria.

In letters to Jacob Weber and Steven Weber, the town asserts they have 47 and 12 broken down vehicles on their properties, respectively.

The Webers appeared in town court Monday and asked for more time to work with an attorney on resolving the issue. They are scheduled back in court June 4.

The state's property maintenance code states:

Except as otherwise provided for in statute or other regulations, two or more inoperative or unlicensed motor vehicles shall not be parked, kept or stored on any premises, and no vehicle shall at any time be in a state of major disassembly, disrepair, or in the process of being stripped or dismantled. Painting of vehicles is prohibited unless conducted inside an approved spray booth.

The town is demanding that the inoperative vehicles be removed from the property. The Webers, if the issue isn't resolved and they are convicted, could be fined $350 or spend six months in jail for each code violation.

Lang said he won't be looking for every little code violation in Pavilion, but property owners with obvious code violations will be contacted and he will also respond to complaints from residents.

The photo of the Perry Road location was taken in October.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Photo: City officials inspect Dellapenna building

City officials took a walk-through of the Dellapenna building on Ellicott Street this morning to check the security and safety of the long-vacant building.

Over the weekend, police officers discovered the building was unlocked while looking for a missing person.  

Following the inspection, officials said they secured it as best as they could today and will take steps to ensure it is better secured.

Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Oak Street resident can keep his ducks, but must comply with new conditions

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, code enforcement, Oak Street

An Oak Street man with a fondness for waterfowl will get to keep his ducks and continue some of his hobbies in his yard, but with new restrictions.

As part of a plea bargain, Ron Graziaplena, of 172 Oak St., admitted to keeping debris in his back yard, a violation of city code, and agreed to a number of conditions on his continued ability to keep 10 mallard ducks as pets and grow tomatoes and build waterfowl-related projects.

The deal was worked out Friday afternoon over three and a half hours, at a time when his trial on numerous alleged code violations was scheduled. Almost all the negotiations were held in open court with Batavia City Court Judge Robert Balbick presiding.

Balbick told Graziaplena that he would be fair with him if Graziaplena made substantial progress toward complying with the plea agreement between now and his sentencing on April 15.

The main agreement regarding the ducks is that Graziaplena can keep only 10, except when there are hatchlings, which must be released in an Elba swamp owned by Graziaplena's family before Oct. 1 of each year.

A neutral, non-governmental, qualified inspector will visit the property twice a year -- on or about July 1 and on or about Oct. -- to ensure Graziaplena is maintaining only a 10-duck population and they are kept in sanitary, humane conditions.

Graziaplena will be required to build a six-foot-high stockade-type fence along his south property line from the garage to the back corner of the lot and for some distance along the back property line. 

He must also install a stockade-style gate across his driveway from the southeast corner of his house to his property line on the south.

The gate is intended to create a visual barrier for anything on his driveway, from construction materials for his projects and his tomato boxes.

Graziaplena prefers to work on his projects in the front yard. He can continue to do so during the day, but come nightfall, he will be required to put all construction materials behind the gate.

He must also keep his BBQ grill behind the gate rather than in the yard.

In recent months, Graziaplena has mounted a number of duck decoys atop 10-foot-high poles along his south property line, and more recently added waterfowl-themed wind vanes that he said he made.

He acknowledged that some of his neighbors are aggravated by the poles, but said the decoys are left over from his hunting days and just a symbol of his hobby. He said he plans to start selling the wind vanes.

"I've gotten many compliments on them, your honor," Graziaplena said. "Several of my friends want them for themselves. Perhaps you would like one?"

Balbick said he couldn't accept the offer.

The judge ordered that all of the pole structures be taken down before sentencing and that they remain down for at least the duration of Graziaplena's conditional discharge (a six-month period after his sentence in which Graziaplena must remain violation free to avoid having the original charges reinstated).

Graziaplena also keeps a boat on the north side of his house. He must either put a driveway on the north side to set the boat on or start keeping the boat on his south side driveway.

About a half dozen of Graziaplena's supporters were at the courthouse Friday, many of them planning to testify in the trial. One neighbor who is unhappy with the situation on Graziaplena's property attended the hearing.

"I want to see that property code compliant," Balbick told Graziaplena after accepting his guilty plea. "I'm not going to punish you just for the purpose of punishing you, but I do have an obligation to the people of this city to see that the yard is safe and there isn't debris strewn about throughout the yard and that the yard is sanitary."

Photos: Take at Graziaplena's residence on Friday.

Monday, December 20, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Batavia Motel residents given ample notice by landlord and inspector, they say

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Motel, code enforcement

There's never a good time to kick somebody out of their home, said Bruce Gerould, Town of Batavia deputy building inspector.

But when raw sewage is seeping under the dwelling units, how much longer do you wait? Until after Christmas, after New Year's, or after somebody gets typhoid?

"If we waited and somebody got sick, then people would be asking why we waited," Gerould said. "It's a no-win situation."

Gerould has been the building inspector responsible for inspecting the Batavia Motel, 3768 W. Main St. Road, since he went to work for the town in 2004. He said there's never been a time when there haven't been code violations at the apartment complex, and since a fire two years ago, the owner has been increasingly less responsive in making repairs.

The owner, Panchal "Sonny" Bhupendrabhai, said he hasn't been eager to make repairs of late, because all he's really wanted to do is sell the property.

He thought he had a buyer until a couple of months ago, but with open code violations, he couldn't complete the deal.

Then the town expressed interest in the property.

"When I heard of the town's interest, I thought there's no reason to spend thousands of dollars for repairs," Bhupendrabhai said.

Bhupendrabhai initiated the call with The Batavian. He said he wanted readers to know that his tenants, with one exception, had plenty of notice that they needed to find new dwellings.

He said he told them weeks ago he intended to shut down the property.

In the case of Eric Duda, he said, Duda fell behind eight weeks in rent and Bhupendrabhai told him just find another place to live, and rather than evict him, gave him time to make other arrangements. He said that days before the condemnation notice, Duda was approved by DSS for $175-per-week rent at Mark Trail. 

Another tenant, he said, stopped paying his rent five weeks ago after learning of the town's interest in buying the property. That tenant, he said, told other residents to stop paying their rent as well.

When Bhupendrabhai confronted the tenant about it, he agreed to stop telling others not to pay their rent. Bhupendrabhai told him he would forgive the five-weeks back rent if he would pay one more week rent and then find another place to live.

A total of seven people lived at the motel at the time of the condemnation.

As for Maken Ithnnascheri, the tenant who moved in just a week ago, he may not have known about Bhupendrabhai's plan to shut down the motel, but he only paid one week's rent and shouldn't have expected to live there longer than that.

He said he covered Ithnnascheri's rent for three days at another motel on Friday, and gave him an extra $50 "to help him out."

As for selling the property to the town, Bhupendrabhai said he essentially has an agreement in place to sell the 2.9-acre parcel adjacent to Kiwanis Park, but nothing is in writing yet.

Gerould said there is no connection between the town's enforcement action and the plan to buy the hotel.

While he feels bad for the residents, he also felt troubled by the conditions they were living it.

Besides the broken septic system, the roof leaked, there were no fire extinguishers and no smoke detectors.

"The place is deplorable," Gerould said. "It's filthy and much of it is not up to standards of the health department or the New York State building code."

He said he told Duda in September that a condemnation order was coming if the problems were not corrected by Bhupendrabhai.

Saturday, December 18, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Batavia Motel condemned, residents say they were given little notice to move

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Motel, business, code enforcement

batavia_motel02.jpg

Seven residents of the Batavia Motel, 3768 W. Main St. Road, were told Thursday evening they had less than 24 hours to vacant the premises.

The Town of Batavia condemned the building because of numerous code violations.

Resident Eric Duda, who was made manager of the complex about seven months ago -- but still had to pay rent -- said he and his fiancé were able to find lodging for themselves and their 10-month-old infant.

But he said everything he owns is stored in rooms and there's no money to move it to other storage on such short notice.

"I figure I'm going to lose all of my possessions," said Duda, whose last extension for unemployment compensation ran out last week.

DSS helped him and his family move, temporarily, into the Mark Trail Motel, but he couldn't take his dog, and as of about 6 p.m. last night, he didn't know what he was going to do with his pet.

The motel has two detached wings. One of the wings has been vacant for some period of time because of a fire in the main office.

All of the residents lived in units on the east side of the property.

The property is owned by Panchal Bhupendrabhai (Duda called him "Sonny"), who lives in Irving, Texas. The assessed value is $55,000. He acquired the 2.9-acre parcel in 2007 from Sarojbahen Patel for $1, who acquired it in 2006 for $55,000. 

Earlier this month, the Town of Batavia authorized a purchase offer of $85,000 to acquire the parcel, which adjoins Kiwanis Park.

Supervisor Greg Post said the condemnation and interest in buying the property are unrelated matters.

The town has been interested since about 2007 or 2008.

"It's a matter of public record," Post said.

He added that "If there were a proper offer to sell the property, we would be willing to negotiate to buy the property."

Post said the living arrangements are a matter between the landlord and tenants.

"We certainly gave the owner time to comply (with code requirements)," Post said.

Still, the condemnation caught residents by surprised, and they all made quick trips to the Department of Social Services on Friday looking for help.

Maken Ithnnascheri, just moved into room #22 on Monday and spent every dime he had on the move and making the space habitable, including repairs and paint. He said he has nowhere to go and no place to take all of his possessions.

"I put a nice penny into it," he said. "They came here late last night and said we had to be out by five o’clock, and there’s no way. I have no place else to go. Where are we going to go in the cold?”

"Everything I have in the world," he added, "is in that room."

Ithnnascheri said he isn't currently eligible for DSS assistance to help him find new lodging.

The motel is in quite a state of disrepair, Duda acknowledged. He said the roof over three rooms leaks, there are broken doors and windows and several other problems with the property.

“It’s really just lots of little things," Duda said. "I just don’t know how it lasted as long as it did.”

Over the summer, he and the other tenants put a riser and cement cover over the septic tank, but it still leaks into the woods behind the motel.

The landlord has made various deals with tenants to make repairs at a discount but nothing ever seems to get done, Duda said.

He doesn't take issue with the condemnation, only the timing of it.

"It's something that I don’t understand," Duda said. "In order for a landlord to evict you, you've got 30 days. So how can the town come in and say you’ve got 24 hours and that’s it?

"I don’t know why he (the code enforcement officer) didn’t do this in the summer time when it would be easier for people to move," he added.

batavia_motel01.jpg

Friday, December 17, 2010 at 11:49 am

Trial set for Oak Street duck case

post by Howard B. Owens in code enforcement, Oak Street

Ron Graziaplena is taking his case to trial.

The Oak Street man who has raised the ire of neighbors, and is accused of numerous code violations by the city, will defend himself against the charges in a bench trial before City Court Judge Robert Balbick.

Graziaplena did not appear in court today, but his attorney was present to set the trial date, which is the afternoon of Feb. 21.

Previously: Dispute over ducks, other complaints, has Oak Street man headed to court

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