Thwarted once, local businessman and developer Pete McQuillen is kicking the tires of an idea to revive his Robbins Nest housing neighborhood on the south end of the Village of Le Roy.
McQuillen started pursuing the project in about 2010, thought he had the necessary approvals to move forward, then a lawsuit forced him to go back to the village board for approval of the necessary zoning change.
At a September 2012 meeting, McQuillen learned that two village board members -- Bob Taylor and Mike Tucci -- would not vote on the resolution because they felt they had a conflict of interest.
Taylor's nephew is Steve Barbeau and Tucci worked for Tompkins Insurance under the supervision of David Boyce. Barbeau, the Town of Le Roy supervisor, and Boyce, were leads in the lawsuit against McQuillen.
The two men are neighbors in a neighborhood known as Presidential Acres, which abuts McQuillen's property he would like to convert into Robbins Nest.
At the time, McQuillen's plan was to build 26 homes on 13.1 acres east of Robbins Road and south of Fillmore Street, with prices ranging from $130,000 to $160,000, and sold as part of a planned community to seniors.
In order to move forward, he needed approval for a Planned Unit Development (PUD), which requires a zoning change, which requires approvals from the Zoning Board of Appeals (then a joint agency of the town and the village), the village board and the County Planning Board.
He got all of those approvals once, but then the lawsuit voided the village vote and without Taylor and Tucci willing to say yes or no, the board couldn't proceed and McQuillen had to drop his plan.
Now Tucci is off the board, so at a meeting April 13, McQuillen asked during public comments if he revived his plan, would the village board at least vote on it (he didn't ask whether they would approve it). Mayor Greg Rogers polled each board member and all said they would vote on it, if a proposal was brought to them.
Reached today, McQuillen said he is merely exploring the idea of reviving Robbins Nest at this time. Going to the village board was just the first step. He also wants to see how the county might respond.
Rogers said he was surprised by McQuillen's request. Robbins Nest wasn't an item on the agenda. McQuillen just showed up and asked his question and that's all it was, Rogers said.
We reached out to Barbeau and Boyce for comment. We've yet to get a response from Barbeau; and Boyce declined to comment.
Boyce is one of several plaintiffs, all Presidential Acres residents, in another lawsuit with McQuillen as one of the defendants. The lawsuit is over several duplexes built on the west side of Presidential Acres, which the plaintiffs claim violates the subdivision plan.
That lawsuit, filed in 2014, is scheduled to go to trial next week.
If you've read this far and the history of this development doesn't seem like enough of a twisted path yet, the history also includes Barbeau being arrested after an altercation with McQuillen over a barn McQuillen built close to Barbeau's property line. Also part of the history, Rogers took responsibility for allowing the village to pave a road owned by McQuillen at the time.
McQuillen said the next step for him to is to go the county to see what kind of response he might get, but County Planning Director Felipe A. Oltramari said there is nothing barring McQuillen from getting the paperwork started with the village. It would be up to the village to submit a request for consideration by the County Planning Board on the zoning change.
It isn't unusual for rejected or stalled proposals to come back up for reconsideration, Oltramari said.
"It often happens that applicants will come back a few months for few years later, depending on how political the issue was," Oltramari said.
UPDATE 8:56 p.m.: Earlier this evening, Steve Barbeau responded to our request for a comment. Here is his statement: "There were and are numerous legal, practical, and ethical reasons why the property in question should not be rezoned."