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September 28, 2015 - 8:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, red osier, Stafford.

Press release:

After 36 successful years in business, Bob and Noreen Moore, owners of the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford, N.Y., will retire and are seeking a buyer for the restaurant. The Moores are looking to sell their business to an experienced restaurant operator who will uphold their hard-earned reputation and continue employment for their qualified and dedicated staff. During the transition, The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant will remain open and will continue the wonderful quality service the restaurant is known for. 

The Moores purchased the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in 1979 in an effort to refocus their priorities and start a family business. Their sons, Robert and Michael, were 13 and 3 years-old, respectively.

“We moved from a four-bedroom home with an in-ground pool in Greece to a two-room apartment over the restaurant in the country,” Bob Moore said.  “We opened the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant and served 18 dinners the first Sunday we were in business. Today, we see 1,500 dinners through the kitchen doors each week, Tuesday through Sunday and one ton of beef each week.”

The Red Osier Landmark Restaurant quickly became famous for prime rib dinners, hand-carved tableside, and served to any temperature of the customer’s choice. The restaurant is also known for its Caesar salad, lobster/crab bisque, and banana foster flambé, each presented and prepared tableside. Today, it is the only restaurant in the Greater Rochester Area to offer this dining experience.

The Moore brothers became engrained in the family business early on, with Michael bussing tables by age 10 and serving as general manager as an adult. The eldest, Robert, also immersed himself in the business and successfully owns and operates Red Osier kiosks and concession stands as well as Red Osier Ridge Road Catering.

Red Osier kiosks and concession stands including The Greater Rochester International Airport, Total Sports Experience, Frontier Field and Red Osier Ridge Road Catering are not for sale and will continue their operations. 

For years the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant has hosted a popular annual “Christmas in November” promotion, selling gift certificates as “buy $50 and get $20.” In light of the transition, the Moores will temporarily suspend the promotion this year as well as the sale of all gift certificates.

The Moores' retirement and the sale of the business is bittersweet for a family who has spent nearly four decades serving the Greater Rochester area, but according to Bob Moore, it is time.

“We are incredibly grateful to our employees, many of whom we consider our extended family, our loyal customers and the community for their support, friendship and patronage over the years,” he said. “But after 36 years in business and 52 years of a happy marriage, it is time for Noreen and me to enjoy our retirement with our family.”

The Moores look forward to another busy fall season ahead. With the exception of gift certificate sales, the Moores' intend to continue with business as usual until an experienced restaurant operator expresses interest in buying the business.

The price of the business is not being made public. Those interested in pursuing details about the sale of the restaurant, please contact Mike Kelly at Transworld Business Advisors, 716-201-0552.

September 26, 2015 - 5:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in fire, Stafford.

Stafford Fire Department is called "to assist law enforcement with a grass fire" at 8620 Sanders Road.

The location is Scofield Transfer & Recycling.

September 24, 2015 - 10:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Stafford.


Reader submitted photo.

A car has reportedly struck a tree along Sweetland Road, between Transit and Roanoke roads. 

Unknown injuries. 

The vehicle may be smoking. 

Stafford fire and Mercy EMS responding. 

September 21, 2015 - 10:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, byron.


Photos from a drive down Route 237 through Stafford and Byron while I was out trying to chase down a story (which hasn't, yet, turned into a story, but at least I came away with a couple of pictures).


September 16, 2015 - 1:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, James Pontillo, Stafford Odd Fellows Hall.


The difference between the six-foot limit on a fence in the Town of Stafford and the actual height -- whatever it is -- of the fence James Pontillo built on his property is enough to reduce the sunlight falling on the neighboring building, according to Stafford's Zoning Board of Appeals.

That's based on science, said Chairwoman Crista Boldt.

Sort of.

"If we had a scientist come in and measure the amount of daylight that's given to that property next door it would make a difference, just like people in Wyoming when they measured when they put wind towers in Warsaw and they studied how the flicker effect would affect the house, because of the rotation of the Earth and the sun orbiting the Earth it would affect it," Boldt said, "the amount of light."

The reduction of light -- however much that might scientifically be -- would create an "undesirable change," according to ZBA board members.

For that, and other reasons we'll get to, the ZBA voted unanimously to deny Pontillo an area variance for his fence.

An area variance is a tool in New York code enforcement guidelines that gives local officials the ability to allow property owners to make physical changes to structures and property that might otherwise be prohibited by law.

There are five criteria zoning boards use when deciding whether to grant an area variance.

They are:

Whether an undesirable change will be produced in the character of the neighborhood or a detriment to nearby properties will be created by the granting of the area variance. 

In this case, the ZBA found the extra foot, two feet or three feet -- depending on who is doing the measuring and where -- would mean less light would reach the neighboring property.

Whether the benefit sought by the applicant can be achieved by some method, feasible for the applicant to pursue, other than an area variance. 

Yes, the board found Pontillo could build a six-foot-high fence. That would block people in cars and most people standing from seeing over the fence. As for Pontillo's stated goal of building a deck on the back of his building, which is part of the historic Four Corners District, well, Pontillo hasn't even applied for a permit for it, so Boldt indicated she wasn't interested in considering it as a criterion on this point.

Whether the requested area variance is substantial.

As a matter of measurement then -- depending, again, on who is doing the measuring and where --  the extra height, as a matter of percentages, is from 15 to 30 feet higher than the six-foot fence Pontillo could build without a variance.

Whether the proposed variance will have an adverse effect or impact on the physical or environmental conditions in the neighborhood or district.

James Balonek piped up on this one and said yes, because of the sunlight and the airflow.

The reason for denial Boldt wrote down on the ZBA's form was because granting a variance could impact future decisions of the board and reduce the ability of the code enforcement officer to enforce the law.

Whether the alleged difficulty was self-created, which consideration shall be relevant to the decision of the board of appeals, but shall not necessarily preclude the granting of the area variance.

Boldt read the objection and immediately said it was because Pontillo built the fence. Then she wanted to know from the code enforcement officers when they issued a stop-work order to Pontillo. That led to a discussion with Pontillo and his attorney about the timeline of events.

According to attorney Peter J. Sorgi, Pontillo sought a variance for a fence, was denied, decided to build a different fence and was told by town officials that a fence of six feet or less didn't require approval or permits, so that's what Pontillo set out to build. When the fence, which is in plain view of Town Hall, was nearly complete, Pontillo received a stop-work order and immediately complied.

That's a set of facts nobody in the room explicitly disputed.

Boldt wrote on the ZBA form that the difficulty was self-created.

When Boldt first started going through the criteria, Balonek raised the first objection and said the requested variance would create an undesirable change because it goes against code.

Sorgi pointed out, "that's why you have variances." By that definition, he said, no variance would ever be granted.

Boldt told Sorgi, "We've been trained that it's extremely hard to get a variance."

September 16, 2015 - 9:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sunrise, Stafford.


Taken this morning from Assemblyman R. Stephen Hawley Drive, just off the Genesee Community College campus.

September 15, 2015 - 5:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, James Pontillo.

The Town of Stafford Zoning Board of Appeals meets tonight to discuss the fence James Pontillo erected on his property.

The board's regularly scheduled meetings are for the third Monday of the month. This month, that should have been Sept. 21, but we've been informed the meeting has been moved to 7 o'clock tonight.

Related: after last night's Stafford Town Board meeting, the board passed a resolution authorizing town attorney Kevin Earl to take all steps necessary to enforce code compliance issues against James Pontillo. The resolution retroactively approves any actions taken by Earl.

Here's a PDF of the full resolution.

September 15, 2015 - 11:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, agriculture, business.

A decades-long practice of spreading septic waste on farm fields in Stafford, which drew criticism from a local environmentalist earlier this year, will continue for at least another year with the approval Monday of a permit by the town board.

A.D. Call applied for a renewal of the permit for spreading of septic waste -- human waste -- on two fields north and south of Route 5.

In April, Attica resident John Volpe raised the issue with the Town of Stafford Board, claiming that the Calls were bringing in waste from surrounding communities and dumping amounts in excess of the permit's permitted limits.

Gerald Call said his farm has stayed within limits set by the town – 25,000 gallons per acre per year.

Only one resident raised any objections at Monday's meetings.

She raised concerns that the state Department of Environmental Conservation doesn't have the manpower to monitor the spreading of human waste and that if the Town of Stafford permits it, it becomes the responsibility of the town to inspect the practice. Supervisor Robert Clement said he's spoke with the DEC and the agency has been clear with him that it's not the town's responsibility. 

"Like I said, I have timely, up-to-date e-mails from the DEC and I would be happy to share them with you," Clement said.

September 15, 2015 - 11:07am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Stafford, hydrofracking, environment.

The Town of Stafford became the first local community to ban hydrofracking within its borders with a 4-0 vote of the board on Monday night following a public hearing where every speaker supported the ban.

Fracking involves using hydraulic force, with a mixture of water, chemicals and sand, to extract gas from shale. The technique is controversial. Opponents believe the process generates soil and water contamination.

"This is the wisest, the safest and the best thing to do for our community for many years to come," said resident Judy Manly.

Another speaker, who didn't provide her name, said it was up to Stafford to protect itself because the town can't count on the legislature or governor to ban it and current state Department of Environemtnal Conservation regulations could easily be overturned by another administration.

"Passing this law in our town is a safety measure that we absolutely need," she said.

Three years in the making, the law prohibits extraction, exploration, storage of wastes, and other activities in connection with underground injections for petroleum or gas production within the Town of Stafford limits.

September 8, 2015 - 4:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in Stafford, events.
Event Date and Time: 
September 23, 2015 -
7:00pm to 8:30pm

The Stafford Historical Society will meet on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 at 7 p.m. and the guest speaker is Michael J. Eula, Ph.D., Genesee County historian.

His presentation will be "American Culture and Cookbooks in Genesee County, New York, 1830-1920." The meeting is at the Stafford Town Hall at 8903 Route 237. All are welcome to attend the free presentation.

September 8, 2015 - 2:42pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, alexander, pembroke, bergen, Stafford, batavia, Le Roy, Godfrey's Pond.

Elaine Maria Beachy, 44, of Comet Road, Warsaw, is charged with confinement of companion animal in a vehicle in extreme temperature. Beachy was issued an appearance ticket for Oct. 1 in Town of Batavia Court after she allegedly left a cat in a vehicle Sept. 6 in a parking lot on Veterans Memorial Drive. Outside temperatures were estimated to be about 89 degrees while the interior temperature of the vehicle was estimated to be about 116 degrees. The case was investigated by Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Graff, assisted by Deputy Ann Brade.

Dennis Lee Majors, 62, of Clinton Street Road, Stafford, is charged with second-degree harassment. Majors was arrested Sept. 5 following a report of a domestic altercation wherein he allegedly grabbed and pushed another person. He was arraigned in Town of Stafford Court, released on his own recognizance, and is set to return to Stafford Court on Oct. 8. The case was investigated by Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Graff.

Eric Cosimo Pellegrino, 32, of Firestone Street, Lackawanna, is charged with driving while intoxicated, following too closely, and having a controlled substance outside its original container. Pellegrino was arrested at 11:09 p.m. on Aug. 2 on the charges following an investigation into a motor-vehicle accident on Route 77 in the Town of Pembroke. The case was investigated by Sheriff's Deputy Kevin McCarthy.

Robert T. Hanlin, 40, of Alexander, is charged with operating motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, 1st, and moving from lane unsafely. He was issued uniform traffic tickets returnable to the Town of Bergen Court on Oct. 7. On Sept. 6, Troopers responding to a 9-1-1 call of an erratic operator on State Route 33 in the Town of Bergen, were waived down by a concerned citizen who alerted them that the vehicle had driven on the opposite side of the roadway on several occasions and the operator, later identified as Hanlin was in the Bergen convenience store. Hanlin failed to properly perform field sobriety tests and was transported to SP Batavia where Genesee County Sheriff’s DRE Deputy completed a drug evaluation which indicated Hanlin was impaired by drugs and unable to operate a vehicle safely.

A 16-year-old who lives on Walnut Street in the City of Batavia was arrested Aug. 27 and charged with petit larceny. The teen allegedly stole a backpack, an iPad, and a Sumsung tablet from another person. The teen was issued an appearance ticket and is to appear in Batavia City Court on Sept. 15. The case was investigated by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay.

Malik I. Ayala, 23, of Lydun Drive, Albion, is charged with petit larceny. On Sept. 5, Ayala was arrested for allegedly stealing a bicycle on Aug. 27 from another person. Ayala was issued an appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in Batavia City Court on Sept. 15. The case was investigated by Batavia Police Officer Christopher Lindsay.

Todd M. Holly, 50, of Lincoln Avenue, Le Roy, is charged with first-degree criminal contempt. Holly was located on Gilbert Street in Le Roy and arrested for allegedly violating a full stay away order of protection. He was transported by Batavia PD headquarters by Officer Felicia DeGroot and arraigned in City Court and then jailed without bail.

Kathryn M. Yark, 18, of Roosevelt Avenue, Batavia, is charged with third-degree unauthorized use of a vehicle. On July 18, she was arrested for using a vehicle without permission. She was located at the GC Jail visiting her boyfriend. She was transported to Batavia police headquarters, then arraigned in City Court before being jailed with bail set at $1,000. She is to be in City Court at a later date. The case was investigated by Officer Marc Lawrence.

A 17 year old from Pavilion was arrested by the Le Roy Police Department on Sept. 6 and charged with: driving while intoxicated, a Class A misdemeanor; driving while intoxicated with a BAC of .08 percent or more, a Class A misdemeanor; inadequate exhaust; insufficient tail lamps; unsafe tires; and having more than one passenger under the age of 21 while holding a DJ license, all traffic violations. The teen was arrested following numerous traffic infractions by the Le Roy Police Department. After a brief investigation the subject was allegedly found to be intoxicated. The subject was issued appearance tickets for the charges and is to appear in the Le Roy Town Court on Sept. 28. At this time the name of the defendant is being withheld because of the possibility of a youthful offender status. 

Montel Lee Cunningham, 22, of Ellicott Street, Batavia, is charged with failure to obey a child support order. He was arrested on a warrant out of Niagara County Sept. 6 following an investigation into an underage drinking party. He was turned over to the Niagara County Sheriff's Office. The case was investigated by Sheriff's Deputy Chad Cummings, assisted by Deputy Andrew Hale.

Andrew Charles Webster, 22, no address provided, is charged with petit larceny. On Aug. 30, Webster was arrested for allegedly shoplifting at Walmart and he was put in GC Jail in lieu of $500 bail. He is to reappear in Town of Batavia Court on Sept. 28. The case was investigated by Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Parker.

Jacob Nicholas Oddo, 18, of Batavia Elba Townline Road, is charged with trespass. On Sept. 5, he was arrested for allegedly being on the premises of Godfrey's Pond after being told that he needed to leave and not return. He was issued an appearance ticket to appear in Town of Stafford Court on Sept. 24. The case was investigated by Sheriff's Deputy Chad Cummings, assisted by Deputy James Diehl.

Jordan Lee Miller, 16, of Batavia Elba Townline Road, is charged with trespass. On Sept. 5, he was arrested for allegedly being on the premises of Godfrey's Pond after being told that he needed to leave and not return. He was issued an appearance ticket to appear in Town of Stafford Court on Sept. 24. The case was investigated by Sheriff's Deputy Chad Cummings, assisted by Deputy James Diehl.

Jessica M. Pfenninger, 33, of Creek Road, Batavia, is charged with failure to appear on a charge of third degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. On Sept. 2, she was arrested on a warrant for failure to appear by State Police in Chili and was taken into custody by Batavia Police Officer Jason Davis in Bergen. After being arraigned, she was released on her own recognizance and is to appear in City Court on Sept. 30.

Ryan J. Adkins, 21, of Main Road, East Pembroke, is charged with failure to appear. He was arrested on a warrant from Batavia City Court for failure to appear following a traffic stop on July 23. He was jailed and released after posting $500 bail. He is scheduled to appear in City Court on Sept. 16. The case was investigated by Batavia Police Officer Stephen Cronmiller.

September 6, 2015 - 2:34am
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, Bethany, Stafford.


(Photos by Howard Owens.)

A tractor-trailer flipped over and landed on its roof at the S curve on Route 63 at Fargo Road in Little Canada. The driver is trapped inside but reports only minor injuries. A Sheriff's deputy is on scene. Bethany and Stafford fire and Mercy medics are responding. There are wires down in the roadway.

UPDATE 2:58 a.m.: The driver somehow managed to extricate himself and was sitting on the guard rail when the first firefighters arrived. He was loaded into an ambulance and is not seriously hurt. He was hauling Chiquita bananas.

UPDATE 3:17 a.m.: A deputy was first on scene, coming across the accident while on patrol. He and a passerby helped the driver crawl from the cab of the truck. The driver was conscious and alert.





September 4, 2015 - 10:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Le Roy, corfu, Darien, Stafford.
   Rebecca Santiago

Rebecca L. Santiago, 29, of Main Road, Stafford, is charged with possession of stolen property, 4th, and four counts of identity theft, 3rd. Santiago allegedly stole a credit card from a person under her care while working as a health care provider in Livingston County. She allegedly possessed and used the card while in the Village of Le Roy and other jurisdictions multiple times. Santiago turned herself in to Le Roy PD and was issued an appearance ticket. Santiago was also arrested by the Sheriff's Office and charged with criminal possession of stolen property, 4th, and identify theft, 3rd. She allegedly used the stolen credit card to make purchases at Walmart.

Eric H. Pannell, 44, of Buffalo, is charged with DWI. Pannell was arrested at the Crosby's Gas Station in Corfu. Troopers reportedly observed a vehicle at the station and initiated an interview with one of the passengers. During the interview, another passenger was reportedly seen tossing a beer can out of the car. A trooper allegedly detected the strong odor of alcohol coming from Parnnell, identified as the driver. He was subjected to a field sobriety test and allegedly failed. At SP Batavia's barracks, his BAC was allegedly recorded at .17, more than twice the legal limit. He was jailed on $500 bail. Citations were issued for allegedly consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle and for littering.

Nicholas Morath, 26, of Bullis Road, Elma, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08, unregistered motor vehicle and speeding (55 in a 35 mph zone). Morath was stopped at 11:15 p.m. Thursday on Route 77, Darien, by Sgt. Ron Meides.

Eric J. Merritt, 26, of Rose Road, Batavia, is charged with criminal trespass. Merritt allegedly forced entry into a dwelling on Bank Street Road at 2 a.m., Wednesday.

Deborah Elizabeth LaMartina, 34, of Ravine Street, Rochester, was arrested on a warrant for first degree aggravated unlicensed operation, DWI and criminal possession of stolen property, 4th. She was arraigned in County Court and ordered held without bail.

Jose Antonion Martinez, 45, of Broadway Road, Alden, is charged with second-degree harassment. Martinez was being held in the Erie County Jail on an unrelated matter and was arrested on a warrant upon his release. He was arraigned and released on his own recognizance.

August 30, 2015 - 1:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy, Stafford.

A Stafford resident who was charged with the care of a 2-year-old child in the Village of Le Roy has been accused of intentionally breaking that child's bones and then not seeking proper medical treatment for the child.

Le Roy PD began investigating the allegations in February after it was discovered the child had suffered multiple fractures to a leg and arm and had significant, "highly suspicious" bruises on its body.

Arrested was Christina Pahura, 28, of Main Road, Stafford. She's been charged with second-degree assault, a Class D felony, and endangering the welfare of a child.

The assault charge carries an enhancement because Pahura is over 18 years old and allegedly intentionally harmed a child under age 7.

Investigators allege that while a resident on School Street, Le Roy, Pahura intentionally caused physical injury to the child and then allowed the child to remain in a residential situation during a time when several additional bruises developed and a limp developed. Pahura was advised -- by whom is unstated -- to seek medical treatment for the child, but did not, which resulted in further bruising and an untreated leg fracture.

Pahura was released under supervision of Genesee Justice. 

August 27, 2015 - 8:10am


Members of Genesee County's rope rescue team trained at Indian Falls -- the site of many such real-life rescues over the years -- with a new rope system, called a Vortex.

The $25,000 system (including LED lighting) features a more sophisticated, and more effective and efficient, pulley system, making it easier to keep the ropes clear of obstructions and requiring less exertion of force to raise a patient lifter, making it easier for a medic to accompany the patient up the side of the cliff. 

Top photo: Christina Marinaccio and Jamie Call, the first team to descend and ascend with the new system. Marinaccio and Call are both city firefighters and volunteers (with Le Roy and Stafford, respectively).

To find out how you can do interesting things like this, help save lives and serve your community, visit














August 18, 2015 - 5:47pm


Crista Boldt

Pop quiz: You're a code enforcement officer and your job is to measure a fence to see if it is less than six feet high and therefore conforms to the local building code. Do you measure from the side of the fence of the property owner who built the fence, or do you measure from the other side?

In Stafford, Code Enforcement Officer Lester Mullen measured from the non-owner side. That was his solution to a question that apparently has no correct answer under existing town law, but has unleashed a protracted legal battle that has consumed at least $10,000 of taxpayer money and caused James Pontillo to shell out nearly $10,000 in attorneys fees.

The two adjoining properties are different grades, accounting for a variance in fence height from one side to the other.

The issue of the fence has morphed into a soap opera of sorts and still has no resolution; though, it was hashed out at great length at a public hearing before the zoning board of appeals on Monday night.

Peter J. Sorgi, the attorney for Pontillo, explained it this way: His client decided to build a fence two years ago between his property, the ancient and former Odd Fellows Hall on Stafford's historic four corners at Main Road and Morganville Road, and the property to the west, where Tom Englerth erected a steel-roofed building that is currently leased by the Stafford Trading Post and a hair salon.

The feud between Pontillo and Englerth is well documented. It's genesis seems to be Pontillo's successful bid to buy the property at 6177 Main Road in 2010 for $40,700. His purchase of the building was applauded by members of the Stafford Historical Society and Pontillo promised to clean it up, restore it and return it to a useful commercial and residential property. There was concern at the time that Englerth wanted to move or raze the building and open a gas station at the location.

Over the years, there have been numerous police calls to the location as Pontillo and Englerth have scrapped over access to Englerth's property for high lifts for roof workers, snow removal, garbage dumping and property lines.

The fence issue wound up in court, and a Stafford judge ordered the fence removed. On appeal, Robert C. Noonan, in his capacity as Superior Court judge, upheld the ruling that the fence was out of compliance with local ordinance -- supporting Mullen's measurements -- but reversed the lower court's order that the fence be removed.

Pontillo was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, but the fence still stands and Pontillo is seeking an area variance for an eight-foot-tall fence, though he unofficially contends the fence, measured on his side of the property line, is only six feet tall.

The meeting Monday night can only be described as contentious, with Pontillo already seeming to have scored some demerits with Crista Boldt, chairwoman of the ZBA, for blaming the town at last week's County Planning Board meeting for his application lacking surveys, plans and photos. Pontillo claimed to have provided those items to the town and was surprised the town hadn't passed along those exhibits.

"I don't want untrue things getting said when you go to other boards," Boldt said. "It reflects poorly on the town."

Sorgi explained Pontillo's remarks to the county as a misunderstanding. The Town of Stafford doesn't require those exhibits, but the county board wanted to review those details. Pontillo, he said, had at one time or another provided the town with all of those materials, but not part of this specific application, because the town didn't require those items be attached to the application.

Sorgi then provided a brief history lesson on the local planning process, which only began in New York about 100 years ago.

There are court cases that outline the role of a zoning board, he said, which is to act as a safety valve to help interpret zoning ordinances. It's role in considering a variance was to balance the benefits to the property owner against the health, safety and welfare of the local community.

James Pontillo

He provided, from NYS code, the five criteria the board must consider and explained how all five criteria weigh in favor of his client.

The benefits Pontillo seeks, Sorgi said, is to hide what he described as an unsightly mess next door, from exposed dumpsters to an unkempt back lawn and junk strewn about (when we look at the property after the meeting, the lawn had been cut within the past two weeks and there were only a few loose items in the yard).

Town Attorney Kevin Earl said a six-foot fence accomplishes the same goal, but Sorgi said not if Pontillo does as planned and builds a back deck on the property, which will be used for dining and drinking.

The fence also prevents snow from being piled up against the old building and makes use of the westside fire escape safer.

The board must consider, Sorgi said, whether the change hurts the character of the neighborhood or is a detriment to nearby properties. He said the fence does no harm and with the 80-foot flower box Pontillo has installed, actually enhances the neighborhood.

The board must consider whether the applicant has a feasible alternative, and Sorgi said there is none.

The request for a variance must be substantial, according to state law, and since a court has ruled the fence is too high, the variance is necessary to achieve Pontillo's desired benefits.

The board must consider whether the variance, if granted, will adversely impact the physical or environmental conditions of the neighborhood.

The answer, Sorgi, said is no.

Finally, the board must consider whether the need for the variance is the result of an issue self-created by the applicant. It wasn't, Sorgi said, because the town doesn't require any sort of permit for a six-foot-high fence and since his client thought, by his own measurements, he was building a six-foot-high fence, there was no official method to confirm with the town that the fence was within the required height. The town didn't object to the fence, Sorgi said, until it was nearly completed.

The only speakers at the public hearing, five altogether and all local residents, each supported Pontillo's variance request.

During the course of the presentation, there were tense moments.

Sorgi took issue with Mullen declining to speak on the record, in front of the press and public, about his position on the variance request. Mullen specifically cited the presence of news media as his reason for not speaking.

When Sorgi left out "physical" to go with "environmental" on the criteria for the board to consider, Boldt called him on it.

Sorgi raised the issue of a fence on the other side of Englerth's property, built by Englerth, that exceeds the six-foot height limit, but Englerth is apparently not facing the same level of scrutiny over that fence, Sorgi said, as his client.

Pontillo accused Englerth of trying to fudge the property line before his fence was built by moving a surveyor's stake at the back of the property by as much as six feet. That dispute led to an accusation of trespassing by Englerth and one of the multiple visits by troopers to mitigate tensions over the past couple of years.

Sorgi tossed a couple of barbs Attorney Earl's way, expressing disdain that Earl threatened to have Pontillo arrested if he didn't take the fence down. Earl argued that isn't exactly what he said, that he merely mentioned that a consequence of failure to abide by zoning law could result in a jail sentence, which he has sought before in other jurisdictions, where he has also served as a municipal attorney, for similar violations. It's not an abnormal response to zoning violations by municipal attorneys.

Sorgi also peppered Earl, whom he accused of chasing billable hours, with questions about why he was even at the meeting: Was he there as a private citizen or as the town's attorney? Earl said Town Supervisor Robert Clement asked him to be there, and Sorgi said that Clement, under state law, didn't have the authority to ask Earl to represent the town board at the meeting, that it took a vote of the board for such an action.

As a result of the meeting, both attorneys are now on record on two key points:

  • Earl said "nobody is trying to get the fence taken down." The town officially has no position on how the ZBA should vote on the variance request.
  • Sorgi said his client is willing to stipulate for the sake of the variance application that the fence is eight feet tall.

In the midst of this rancor, Sorgi reminded the ZBA that its job was to weigh the evidence without consideration for personalities or past history.

"This isn't about James Pontillo or whether you like him or whether you like this neighbor more than that neighbor," Sorgi said. "This is about whether the request benefits the applicant without doing harm to the health, safety and welfare of the community. That's it. Whether you like somebody isn't the question. It's a simple test."

The ZBA is scheduled to vote on the application for a variance at its September meeting.





Attorney Peter Sorgi

August 17, 2015 - 4:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Stafford.
      Joseph Wind

A Stafford resident accused of dealing drugs in a parking lot off Main Street, Batavia, in March, admitted in County Court today to one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 5th.

The plea deal means a possible prison term for Joseph C. Wind, 45, of Horseshoe Lake Road, Stafford, of two to five years.

Wind was observed by members of the Local Drug Task Force participating in a drug deal and was arrested following a traffic stop. 

Investigators found Wind in possession of heroin.

Sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Oct. 14, in County Court. He is being held on $50,000 bail.

August 16, 2015 - 11:35am
posted by Billie Owens in Stafford, events.
Event Date and Time: 
August 26, 2015 -
7:00pm to 8:30pm

The Wednesday, Aug. 26th, meeting of the Stafford Historical Society will be at 7 p.m. at the Stafford Town Hall, located at 8903 Route 237. A presentation of our latest museum exhibit, "Herstory," will be given by the display organizer, Sue Briggs. Also the status report of the July 9th Taste of Stafford will be explained.

August 14, 2015 - 9:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Dunkin' Donuts, batavia, corfu, Stafford, Pavilion.


For local Dunkin' Donut franchisee Mike Mikolajczyk, he thinks he's found the perfect location to open up a second shop, but the problem is, for the second time, land-use planners disagree.

In September of last year, the City Planning Board listened to objections raised by nearby residents and rejected a plan for a donut shop on West Main Street on a small lot between Five Star Bank and Barrett's Batavia Marine.

Mikolajczyk and his architect presented a new plan that they hope addresses traffic flow concerns to the Genesee County Planning Board, but the board voted to recommend disapproval of the site plan.

That doesn't kill the project. The City Planning Board can still approve the plan with a majority-plus-one vote.

The revised plan, said architect Kip Finley (photo), would allow for eight cars in queue before backing up into the parking lot, and the parking lot could accommodate an additional five cars before they would start backing up onto West Main. 

Mikolajczyk's existing Dunkin franchise location, on West Main and Ellicott Avenue, captures mostly westbound commuter traffic in the morning. The proposed new location, said Finley, would help the small business owner capture more business from eastbound commuters.

With the recommended disapproval, it's back to the drawing board, Mikolajczyk said, to try and come up with a project that planners will favor. It's important enough to him, he said, to keep trying.

"It's a good location for the type of business we are," Mikolajczyk said. "That's the best location. I don't want to do a location just for the sake of putting another one in, another Dunkin' in. I want to make sure I have the right location."

Other County Planning Board recommendations:

  • Approval of an area variance for a new barn in the front yard of 10528 Pavilion Center Road. The proposed barn meets setback requirements, but the Town of Pavilion's zoning code doesn't permit front yard accessory buildings. County planners said the proposed barn is not likely to have significant community-wide or local impacts and there are other properties in the area with front yard accessory buildings;
  • Approval with modifications for a special use permit for a restaurant as an accessory business to proposed hotel at 7758 E. Main Road, Le Roy. Planners want to see more parking for the business;
  • Approval for a solar array at 6332 Byron Holley Road, Byron;
  • Disapproval of a proposed subdivision for a 17-lot subdivision on Fieldcrest Drive, Corfu. Planners found the proposed subdivision plans do not comply with existing code because of a lack of detail in the plans. Planners also expressed concern about the lack of protection for federally identified wetlands on lots 9, 10, 16 and 17;
  • Tabled consideration of a variance for fence height at 8903 Route 237, Stafford. Planners were concerned about the lack of detail. The application lacked plans and pictures. Property owner James Pontillo said he turned in all of the required documents to the Town of Stafford. If he did, the documents were not forwarded to the County Planning Department. Pontillo said he would have his attorney provide the materials by the board's next meeting.




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