Sale of 9 Willow in Batavia approved, but not without more discussion
The much-disputed sale of a tax-foreclosed property at 9 Willow St., Batavia, reached a resolution tonight as the city council approved the sale of the house to Stafford resident Tom Englerth.
He was the second-highest bidder for the property -- contrary to a previously published report by the Batavia Daily News that Habitat for Humanity placed the second-highest bid -- with a bid of $20,500, which was $500 less than the highest bid by Michael Pullinzi.
Pullinzi's bid was rejected by the council two weeks ago for apparently having been cited too many times for code violations. (Pullinzi has noted that his violations are not nearly as numerous as some local landlords and that some of the alleged violations were actually on neighboring properties.)
The contentious decision carried over to tonight's meeting as Councilman Bob Bialkowski asked the council not sell the property to Englerth, but instead re-auction the property at an upcoming county auction.
Bialkowski's motion failed 2-7 with only Councilman Sam Barone backing the motion.
“It’s unfortunate that nobody asked the high bidder what his intention for the home was," Bialkowski said, noting that Pullinzi has previously gutted and remodeled homes on North Lyon and in Le Roy and is current converting a two-family apartment building into a single-family residence on Fisher Park.
Council President Marianne Clattenburg expressed concern that since Englerth had probably been notified of the council's pending vote, to switch directions at the last minute might expose taxpayers to a costly lawsuit.
Councilwoman Kathy Briggs also showed some exasperation with Bialkowski's motion.
"We didn’t accept the first one, now the proper procedure is, we go to the next bidder," Briggs said. "End of discussion."
Councilman Frank Ferrando spoke at length for the council to come up with a better policy for dealing with the sale of tax-deliquent properties.
“I don’t know what alternatives we have, but there have to be better alternatives relative to the vision we have to make our neighborhoods better," Ferrando said.
Ferrando didn't expect an answer tonight from City Manager Jason Molino, but he asked him what the city was doing to hold tenants more accountable, echoing a theme of a recent story on The Batavian.
After Bialkowski's motion failed, the council voted unanimously to sell the property to Englerth.
Pictured, Bialkowski, top, and Briggs.