Town of Le Roy lawsuit aims to end 50 years of camping and concerts at Frost Ridge
Greg Luetticke and David Luetticke,
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.
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."
Our family camps here every year. Its a family friendly, wholesome fun, type of campground. It could not be more tame. There is no wild drinking, and no crazy arrest reports. They make a huge waterslide on the hotter days of summer, and kids LOVE it. Im an adult and i love it! Most of the people that camp here, go to leroy for supplies, they eat out at leroy restaurants, and when friends or family visit you, they want to see the Jello museum. I dont know what the town of leroy is thinking with this boner of a move, but they couldnt be more wrong about it being a "cancer" on the community. Its a beacon of wholesome fun compared to other campgrounds in the near area. In fact, the only campground that i like better is godfreys pond, and that is a private, members only community with heavy due's that many families cannot afford.
If the town of leroy was a person, i would feel confident calling them a moron.
People that know the Cleere family, even stay there.
Mrs. Cleere is on the Genesee County Farm Bureau so you would figure she would be PRO a family place.
Since she is a public figure, go ahead and give her a call and tell her how you feel.
This is a published phone number, so I have no qualms about giving it out.
Makes you wonder who wants to get their hands on the property?
Do they not realize the money the campground brings into LeRoy. People go to town for groceries, gas and event out to eat. Frost ridge brings in big time entertainment that is good for businesses and you want to give them the boot. The state and federal government are taxing the hell out of us and taking away our rights and this is what this couple are worried about? Idiots.
OOPS THEY FORGOT TO GIVE SOMEONE EXTRA MONEY, NOW THEY GET SUED, THAT'S THE AMERICAN WAY!!! SUE,SUE,SUE, LETS ALL GET RICH!!]
GET A LIFE LEROY AND THE RESIDENTS OF LEROY GET A LIFE!!
LEAVE FROST RIDGE ALONE!!
You see kids, this is why we can't have nice things.
I have never been to this campground, I don't live in Leroy, and I have never been to one of the concerts (nor am I likely to go in the near future, as I detest modern country music); as such, I don't really feel qualified to comment, one way or another. I'm naturally inclined to side with the camp owners -- although I might suggest that they bring in a better *variety* of performers to attract others in the area (like me!) who might enjoy an outdoor concert in Leroy, but who would never attend a country music show. That, however, is neither here nor there. From this single article, I could only presume that the lawsuit is unreasonable.
I'd like to know more details, however, as to why --specifically -- this couple filed the lawsuit. There is no indication that these people are merely "nuts" or "cranks," so there probably *are* reasons for the suit, but they are not enumerated in this article, which really doesn't offer the Cleere's side of the story. We are told that they feel it to be "a cancer" on the area, but there must be more specifics to their complaint. Is other people's property being damaged? Are the concerts creating noise or pollution for Leroy residents? This article *really* only offers one side of the debate and vague generalities on the other side. I'm sure that there's a bit more to this. So... I guess that I'll reserve final judgment, until I have more specific information.
Emma, obviously, I'll continue to follow the story (I'm sitting in court now) and try to flush out more details from both sides, however, this story is built primarily on available public documents from both sides. I think it accurately and fairly represents what's contained in the documents generated by both sides.
I should also mention, one thing I'd heard last night but was unable to confirm until this morning, the Cleeres have also filed a separate lawsuit. I'll be attempting to acquire a copy, which may provide more information from their POV.
I'm not faulting you, Howard. I understand that there is always language that (by necessity) is used in lawsuits and public documents that doesn't always fully *explain* the details or realities behind complaints and such. I'd just like to know a bit more as to what the complaints entail, before I decide how I feel about this issue -- or before I drag out my pitchforks on behalf of one side or the other.
I'll be watching for future stories and updates. :)
What a shame. It would be different if someone was looking to plunk one down in the middle of the area now, but this has been here for a long time. And you are right Chris , how many arrests do you ever see coming from there. I think it is a great place and was looking forward to seeing Marshall Tucker there this year.
Though I have to say I have never seen it from an arial view before. Puts a new perspective on it, Looks like it might make some great farmland...........??? Has anyone ever thought of that??? ;) I bet they have...
Well I support Greg and Dave. They are great guys and bringing something to this town. It is nice to have concerts here in Leroy.
There are always other sides to a story, but from what I've personally observed this is fairly accurate so far except that I know that there have been concerns raised about littering and trespassing. What I am very curious about is what has been done to mediate this prior to the lawsuit. As a Le Roy resident I am in support of figuring out a way to make this work.
This makes me sick. God forbid people in LeRoy have fun! Great for our community and wonderful for the kids! I smell a skunk...
Let me get this straight...Two people have a business that they bought a few years ago...Have summer time concerts that no cops or arrests happen..Not like Darien Lake..Also provide great family camping experience...Take no IDA or New York State grant money..Are on no GCEDC pilot program...Provide 40 jobs..They would also like to expand the business .And the government in this case the town of LeRoy wants to shut them down....All this because on one person in the Genesee county area complained..WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE..
As a resident of Leroy, I do not support the town and this lawsuit. I was never notified that they would be using my taxpayer money to sue Frost Ridge nor asking me of my opinion. I feel that the Town of Leroy is misrepresenting me. That I do not appreciate. I wonder how many other residents in the Town of Leroy feel the same way. Please put me and my family on the list of residents of the Town of Leroy that do not support the Town of Leroy in their lawsuit against Frost Ridge.
Sounds like a great venue and a good time. I predict the suit will go nowhere.
I wonder how the plaintiffs would feel about the Buffalo Bills moving in instead.
I heard from Dean Norton, president of the NYS Farm Bureau this morning and he's concerned a comment above implies the Farm Bureau is involved in this situation. He wanted to make clear the Farm Bureau is not a party to any law suit involving Frost Ridge and takes no position in the dispute.
I'm a Le Royan too, and have no problem with the campground or the concerts.
I think the issue at hand is whether the owners are operating under zoning and building codes appropriately. A concert venue is completely different than a campground in many ways and it seems the owners could have put their cart in front of their horse by scheduling routine concerts without the proper reviews from zoning and code enforcement.
I'm not a fan of lawsuits by anyone, but pretty sure this would be an issue that would come to a head in any town. Zoning and building codes were put into place to protect folks, or at least give them a chance to voice their opinion, relative to non-compatible uses. If the owners got ahead of themselves with the venue without the proper approvals and reviews then I can see where there could be a problem.
Again--have no problem with either the campground or the concerts, just trying to add some extra perspective.
"Again--have no problem with either the campground or the concerts, just trying to add some extra perspective."
Good points, Timothy.
I think Mr. Geitner hit the nail right on the head. The Town of Leroy should at this point provide a full accounting of how much has already been spent on this and how much more it is projected to cost before pursuing any further. Busybody authoritative government costs money and it don't grow on trees, it has to be taken from the citizens.
As for zoning laws and usage codes, they are mostly enforced arbitrarily, except when someone with political clout wants it. Either there's money involved or the ubiquitous "jobs, jobs! jobs!!!" ( some call it economic development) or "what about the children?" or as is most likely the case here, some busybody who has all the time in the world to harass their local politicians into doing what they want.
If litter is the problem, then the town can ask the campground owners to police the roads around it. If they want to be good neighbors, then they'll do it. Or here's a real whacky idea, if litter bothers me, I go out and pick it up. I may be cussing and scowling at every passer by, but it's not there anymore, and I feel better later.
"I was never notified that they would be using my taxpayer money to sue Frost Ridge nor asking me of my opinion. I feel that the Town of Leroy is misrepresenting me. That I do not appreciate."
Dave Olsen writes: "As for zoning laws and usage codes, they are mostly enforced arbitrarily, except when someone with political clout wants it."
That's utterly ridiculous. As Mr. Hens noted, zoning codes are in place to protect all of us -- and all of our properties! If there is a town that is only *arbitrarily* enforcing those laws (and I seriously doubt that's the case in Leroy), then they need to *start* enforcing them, or change them legally.
Again, I don't have a proverbial horse in this race, but we haven't heard this story from the other side (the side that is bringing this suit). I'd say that the angry foaming at the mouth is really out of place, at this point. How 'bout we put our pitchforks away, until we have all of the information? Just a suggestion.
" I'd say that the angry foaming at the mouth is really out of place, at this point."
You might take your own advice.
Code hasn't been enforced fully in quite some time in Le Roy. It was a campaign issue in our recent village election that all four candidates mostly agreed on. We do have a somewhat new and recently fully trained code enforcement officer and a town supervisor in his second year (?) who are trying to get things back on track. It does not appear to be an easy task by any means; a damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario.
My understanding from the many planning boards I attended in the last year is that our code does not expressly allow for a concert venue, which then means that it is not allowed. Code, of course, can be changed through a public process. The issue that I, as a Le Roy tax payer, have is that it was not addressed before under the same laws and now has escalated to a law suit. In addition, unless I have missed some piece of information here the other campground in our town is not being sued as a cancer on our community. In my opinion as a tax payer the concert venue is a positive thing for our community as a whole, just as Darien Lakes' concert venue is. I still contend that there must be another way to work this out and it is clear from the discussions here, the poll, and the discussions in the community that many others feel the same way.
Mr. Olsen, you are the one who is throwing pejorative names around, without knowing the entire story (and without even knowing the people involved). Check yourself.
And thank you, Jennifer, for the background info, and for your level-headed explanation. That's precisely the sort of information that we need. I, for one, would like to hear from the people who filed the suit. I'd like to hear their side.
Who came first, the campground or the home owner? Mr. X buys a house near an airport, then complains about noise and traffic. Mr, Y builds a home near an expressway then demands that noise barriers be erected by his fellow taxpayers. Mr. Z buys a house on a truck route then demands that trucks be rerouted.
"Mr. X buys a house near an airport, then complains about noise and traffic"
I know this happens enough near small airports that, at least in Missouri when I was aviating, there were laws in place to protect the airport. It didn't stop developers from snatching up such lands and selling cheap to folks assured they could make the airport go away.
This story presents at least *some* of the "other side." Sounds as though there is definitely more to the story than we've seen discussed here. It also looks as though theconcerts didn't begin until 2012?
That story -- based on my reporting. More TK.
(responding to your edited comment). Even the plaintiff's acknowledge there were concerts prior to 2012. Heck, we ran stories about them in 2011 (a links in this story, in fact). Prior to 2011, there is disagreement over the size and scope of live music at Frost Ridge, though no real dispute that live music goes back in time prior to the current ownership.
Busybody is a pejorative? Glad I checked myself before using goober.
If i offended any busybodies out there....
I live in the town of LeRoy. I am totally against my tax dollars being used for this lawsuit. I already signed a petition in support of Frost Ridge. It is a business that brings money into the community. I totally support what they have done and what they plan to do. The majority needs to rule and the town should not give in to a few (or a couple.) I guess we need to look into who to NOT vote for in the next local and county elections.
Apparently, the people who have been complaining are more numerous than this one couple. Also, law is not a matter of "majority rule" in this nation (thank goodness); the rights of minority constituencies are also to be upheld.
If you read the article link that I have posted above, apparently the complaints have been numerous, and the article link that I posted above suggests that the camp owners have not worked with the town to remedy the complaints... or to change the laws; maybe that will happen now. I gather that the complaints seem to be primarily about the concert noise levels. If the campsite concerts are in violation of the zoning code, the residents who are bothered have a *right* to sue, and the town probably has an *obligation* to do so. Just because the concerts don't bother you, that doesn't mean that other residents don't have legitimate complaints and concerns. What if *your* rights, as a resident, were being violated by some business that was breaking listed zoning laws? The courts may still work out a compromise of some sort. Would that really be so terrible?
And yes, Mr. Olsen, when you call somebody a busybody (do you even know these people?), it's pejorative. ::eye roll::
I do know that the Frost Ridge owners have been to planning board meetings and have asked what they are supposed to do. At those meetings they have even made appointments to meet with the code enforcement officer and discussed phone calls they have made to try to get answers to their questions.
eye roll ?
rock & roll
that's how I roll
Observations so far: Why did Mr. Whiting chose such strong language in the suit comparing the campground to a "malignancy which cannot be allowed to metastasize any further" Seems a bit too passionate to just be upholding a code enforcement issue. Why has this exploded over 1 complaint by 1 disgruntled neighbor? Seems like Leroy is using a nuclear bomb when a fly swatter would do the trick. In my experience as a teacher of 25 years, the one who screams the loudest has the weakest case. Mitigate the issues and let the show go on! I wonder how Mr. Whiting would describe a more heinous crime than that of a minor code violation?
Point of clarification, the phrase "maligancy which cannot be allowed to metastasize any further" is in quotes, indicating it is a verbatim statement attributed to the speaker.
The phrase "cancer that must be eradicated" it is not in quote marks in the story, indicating is not a direct quote from any source.
I stand corrected. Thanks Howard.
Hmmm-seems pretty lame to me. I guess the town would rather drive out businesses than work with them. How's that big development park working out for ya near the Thruway? Leroy's a dying town and I'd think they'd embrace and work with someone that brings in money to the local economy- where were the "complaints" after the first year of concerts? Only takes one to screw up the enjoyment for many...... BTW-looks like that Dunkin Donuts is really moving along....they're even probably having second thoughts into coming into Leroy......
Sounds to me somebody wants that property for something else.
John check comments on the new story ....