Council denies local landlord chance to buy foreclosed property in auction
Landlords, if you expect to buy property through future city real estate auctions, you better make sure you don't have any prior code violations on your record.
At least that's the message the Batavia City Council decided to send tonight when it voted against selling a property at 9 Willow St. to Michael Pullinzi, who has reportedly been cited 13 times over seven years on five different properties.
"Our neighborhoods have problems and go bad one year at a time, one day at a time, one decision at a time," said Councilman Bill Cox in support of the motion to deny Pullinzi a chance to buy the property. "We need to start saying, ‘we’re no longer going to accept the status quo.'"
Pullinzi bid $21,000 for the property, which came up for auction after the city foreclosed on the land for non-payment of property taxes.
The second highest bidder, at about $20,500, will now be offered the property.
Council members Rose Mary Christian, Frank Ferrando, Sam Baron and Bob Bialkowski all voted against denying Pullinzi the land.
Ferrando said it was unfair to deny Pullinzi the property "out of the blue," when the council has never acted before on its discretion to deny an auction winner the real estate.
"We’ve never looked at this," Ferrando said. "It doesn’t mean we shouldn't. This is great. But I think we should from this point on work to put together a procedure and a process and be able to inform the citizens of our community this is the criteria established, if you’re going to bid on property, here are our expectations."
City ordinances allow the council to consider past history and decide whether the auction winner will be a responsible property owner.
Christian argued that the city has a code-enforcement officer and Pullinzi promptly responded to previous citations, fixing the problems in question.
City Council President Marianne Clattenburg favored taking a stand on this case to send a message to other landlords.
"There is a cost associated with opening up (those cases) and investigating them," Clattenburg said. "If you want to make the case that they’re closed that’s fine, but some of us have a problem with the fact that they existed in the first place."
After being interrupted by Christian, Clattenburg added, "The city had to hire another code-enforcement officer at considerable expense because of issues like this. Let’s not forget that we made it an issue to enforce this at considerable expense to the taxpayer."
Also sold at auction were 3 Roosevelt Ave. to Robert Norton for $35,000, and 3-5 Hutchins Place to Greg Post for $600. Both of those properties were sold following property-tax foreclosure.
The following properties were also sold: 432 South Jackson and 438-440 South Jackson to Richard Spicola for $3,100; 618 Ellicott St. Rear to Genesee & Mohawk Valley Railroad for $1,000; East Main Street Rear to Greg Post for $500; and, E/S Clifton Ave. to David J. MonteVerde for $500.