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Dispute over ducks, other complaints, has Oak Street man headed to court

By Howard B. Owens

There's more than a property line that separate Ron Graziaplena and Cheryl Collins. There's 30 years of neighbor disputes, and now that Collins wants to sell her property and move away, she's even more concerned about what Graziaplena does outside his house.

Graziaplena, a former truck driver, builds things in his front yard, has a row of tomato boxes along his driveway, a boat parked on the grass of the north side of his house, and he's keeping 18 mallard ducks in his back yard.

"My home is assessed at $80,000," Collins said. "The last real estate agent I had over said I probably couldn't get $50,000 for it."

The dispute will land Graziaplena in City Court on July 23. He is accused by city inspectors of keeping his yard full of debris, trash and junk, and of keeping the ducks in unsanitary conditions.

On April 26, 2001, Graziaplena was granted a variance to keep 10 water fowl on his property. He is allegedly in violation of the variance. The city says he has 19 ducks. Graziaplena says he has 18.

The variance, reportedly, also doesn't allow mallards.

Graziaplena said he's kept dozens of different varieties of ducks over the years, and that he wasn't aware the variance allowed only certain breeds of ducks, and besides, what's the difference?

"They’re pets," Graziaplena said. "People have dogs and cats. I have ducks. I ‘ve always been fond of ducks and geese -- waterfowl."

He said he got his first duck when he was 2 years old (his parents moved into 172 Oak St. when he was a year old), and he's pretty much kept ducks ever since -- for 59 years, most of the time living in the same house.

He moved back into his parent's house about 25 years ago, he said, and it's been for close to that long, by his version, that Collins has been complaining about "anything and everything" around his home.

"It's been no picnic living next door to that man," Collins said.

The real trouble started, Graziaplena said, when he let go a young woman that was working for him, helping him with his projects and the care of his ducks.

The woman had become friends with Collins, and Graziaplena accuses Collins of retaliation for letting her go.

"There’s a lot of work around here that needs to be done by a guy, and I’m disabled, so I needed to hire a guy," Graziaplena said.

Collins said the girl wasn't fired, she quit. She couldn't stand, according to Collins, the unsanitary conditions the ducks lived in.

Graziaplena disputes that the ducks are kept in an unhealthy environment. Their water pond is cleaned regularly and they get fresh water daily, he said. It's heated in the winter, they have shelter and plenty of food.

As for the limit on ducks, Graziaplena notes that ducks breed. They lay eggs and produce ducklings. When the young ducks have enough feathers to fly, Graziaplena said, he releases them at a swamp owned by a cousin. He only keeps the 10 adult ducks, otherwise.

The young ducks are usually released in the last week of July.

As for Collins, she said she's about done with the situation.

"I’m ready to walk away from it all," Collins said.

Jill Turner

I don't think its a big deal about Mrs collins trying to sell her house But she lives on a main road who would want to live there there is no back yard if a family moves in there that has kids they have no place to play and how much work has to be done on that house inside and out I don't think the ducks are a problem.Well the economy is bad right now who wants to by a house anyways there are a lot of people who don't have jobs right now and no money and I don't think houses are high on the market right now anyways. Some people get old want to complain about anything and everything I know what it fells like because I live by one also.Mr Grazioplena is a good person he loves his ducks and his geese he has a love for birds and he loves taking care of them.Yes birds do mate and have little ones take a ride over at south beach restaurant behind there in that big parking lot how many seagulls do you see over there million of them they are with there little ones taking care of them they make so much noise i don't know how anyone could live over that way and Mrs collins wants to complain about Mr Graziplena ducks. Mr Graziplena Does care for his ducks and geese they get food everyday and so does the ones at his pond and he has many different kind over there he has made some duck houses for his pond and I think the ducks and geese like it over there. I will stand up for Mr Graziplena and support him any way possible I love ducks and birds as much as he does and I want to care for his birds when he can't take care of them any more I have learned alot about ducks and geese thew him and he should deserve to keep those ducks at his house until they reach the right age to let them go they are getting the best care there until they are ready to fly away

Jul 14, 2010, 9:48am Permalink
Melissa Marsocci

Ms. Turner and Mr. Olsen: Yes, you are entitled to your opinion however have no idea what Mrs. Collins is going through unless you as well live by this man. All of Gateway Drive is on her side, as Grazioplene is more of a nuisance than this article claims. Beyond the ducks, he also provides food to bring in wild animals, creating a serious issue. We now have an overabundance of deer, causing accidents on Rt 98, as well as having issues with fox, skunk, groundhogs and last year coyote. I am sorry, if this man wants to live in these conditions, then he should move to the country. His property is an absolute mess, and he causes even worse of a mess for all of us who have to live around him, and it is not fair! Many of us have young children, and are fearful of what animals are coming through, and what harm they might do. It is only a matter of time before one of them is rabid. Hats off to Mrs Collins for fighting this, it benefits all of us!!!

Jul 14, 2010, 10:19am Permalink
Thomas Mooney

Mellisa, I grew up in that area and the animals come from the woods that surround your area along with the swamp behind Batavia High school (they have always been there). The animals are more likely going to come to your garden to eat and deer will eat bushes and shrub berries . Should we not allow for gardens also . Don'''''t forget your dog and cat food also . Wake up people , Mrs. Collins thinks her property is worth more than it is based on assesment compared to reality of housing market(its a buyers market), who doesn't when they are looking to sell . The road and traffic are probably better indications of low value. Leave the guy alone ,he could sell also and it could be turned into a Hud house occupied by transplants that abuse the system .

Jul 14, 2010, 10:32am Permalink
Jill Turner

Melissa I live in your neighborhood
yes we do have deer that do come to our house we had 12 of them in one night and we get wild turkey and we do have a foxes the crosses our neighborhood and the other animals as you complain about Yes the animals are over popular but what do you want you live in the city and you do feed them as well when you put your garbage out on Tuesday night for the garbage guy on weds we are all feeding them but is not so bad in the summer its the winter when they really need the food to survive. What do you want my backyard is all wetlands and whatever I probably see them more then you do they are trying to cross the street to get to another place and they get hit by a car i see a lot more deer and other wild animals get killed in the country then I do in the city and don't forget that back part that separates Burke Drive and Gateway is all wetlands back there and there are many places for them to hide under to rise there young and you can't blame Mr Grazioplene for bring those wild animals here they wonder over this way on there own and they must like it here that is why they stay here Well if the hunters would do there job then we would not have this problem and I do have a little one that is always in the yard I have not seen any rabies as long as I have lived in this neighborhood

Jul 15, 2010, 10:41am Permalink
Jill Turner

Thank you Mr Thomas I am glad that some one knows what its like to grow up on this area besides me and know what kind of animals are around in this area.And how the back yard is all swamp land

Jul 14, 2010, 10:29pm Permalink
Melissa Marsocci

Thomas and Jill: Yes, there is a wooded area behind the street occupied by wild animals, especially deer. However, our neighbors who have been on the street for almost 30 years, have never experienced such problems as we have the last two with the animals. And yes, Gateway is known for deer, but not coyotes! Also, they have never had so many deer. I assure you we do not encourage the problem, because we have indoor cats, and the neighbor's dogs are not kept out, they eat inside. As for our garbage, it is put out Wednesday morning to prevent the skunks. But let's get real, that is getting just a little too nit picky. The fact here is that many of us have seen and taken pictures of food being brought down to a desk near our backyard. One of our neighbors attempted to talk calmly with Grazioplena about the issue, and he became irate with the neighbor, using extremely profane language. Furthermore, the big picture is that what he is doing is in fact illegal. A couple of us spoke with a DEC officer unofficially. Back him all you want, but Mr. Mooney you do not live on the street anymore, and Jill you live on the backside of Burke, therefore do not deal with the same issues we are contending with. Lastly, it is not our property we are concerned about, its the fact that we have young children on the street, including my 10 month old son, and have to constantly be concerned for their safety. And no, it is not just in one season, it is all seasons, more so in the summer.

Jul 14, 2010, 12:51pm Permalink
Angela Penkszyk

At least his ducks aren't flying around pooping on anything and anyone that's underneath them... Also, too bad those coyotes can't find their way to the roof of the Seagull Stadium.

Jul 14, 2010, 1:21pm Permalink
Thomas Mooney

The ducks have been on Mr. Grazioplena's property for a long time , and as stated by Melissa the problem started about two tears ago . Could it be possible that the wildlife problem is due to some other circumstance . We need to look at every angle before accusing someone that they are the cause .

Jul 14, 2010, 2:38pm Permalink
Melissa Marsocci

Thomas, I am not as concerned about the ducks. I am apologetic however to Mrs Collins. Yes, we know for a fact that the wildlife problem does come from Grazioplena because we see him putting food down for them right behind our house. The items have ranged from garbage to stuff put in a pan on a desk. It is practically in our backyard, so we have seen this done many times. Also, the nurse they talked about in the article, was one of the individuals we saw doing this as well.

Jul 14, 2010, 4:26pm Permalink
Jill Turner

Melissa When was the last time you saw him put down food for the wildlife it had to be along time ago why bring something up that happend months ago or years ago

Jul 14, 2010, 5:45pm Permalink
Kim Grant

As far as I'm concerned some people just can't handle wildlife. I've lived in the country my whole life and my kids have never been harmed by deer, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, etc. <b>Teach your kids!!!</b> Teach them to <u>understand wildlife</u>, <u>to respect it</u>, <u>to keep your distance</u>. They deserve to live where we have tried pushing them out. After we've taken all the space, where do they go then??? There are too many that wouldn't care if they still existed or not. Leave Graziaplena alone with his extended family.

Almost forgot - Batavia is still considered country. You want a city, go to Buffalo or Rochester.

Jul 14, 2010, 6:57pm Permalink
Jeremiah Pedro


I have a couple questions. First how long has Graziaplena lived at his current address?
How long have you lived at your current address?

The wetlands are home to an abundance of wildlife. If Graziaplena did not live where he does and did not allegedly feed the wild life as you claim. The animals would still come to your neighborhood. Believe it or not you live in an area where wildlife have always lived and always will live. The coyotes while new to you and your street are not new to this area.

Jul 14, 2010, 6:59pm Permalink
Jill Turner

I could not agree with you more. You should teach your kids to say away from wildlife it was there land before we got here and we have kinda taken over it

Jul 14, 2010, 10:34pm Permalink
Melissa Marsocci

Kim, the key point you made in your writing is that you live in the country. The last I checked, my tax bill says City of Batavia. You can call what you want. Jeremiah, the amount of years that I or Mr. Grazioplena have lived in our homes is irrelevant. In fact, all of what you are saying is irrelevent. The fact still remains is that what he is doing is illegal. If he wants to feed wild animals, then go to the country, where Kim lives. I do not deny that he is potentially a nice man, but that does not justify his actions. In other words, because he has lived at this home longer than what I have lived in mine, and because he is a nice man then he can do whatever pleases him? Come on people, let's get real here. You are all just digging for stuff now. The point stnads that right is right, and wrong is wrong. I hope beyond teaching your kids about wildlife, that you also taught them right from wrong.

Jul 15, 2010, 8:15am Permalink
Jeremiah Pedro


The points I brought up are not irrelevant.
The reason I bring up who has lived there longer lets me better form my opinion of the situation. You response, although not a direct answer to my question, lets me know the situation just a little better.
If you moved into your current home and Grazioplena was already living where he is now then you have nothing what so ever to complain about. You had your chance to make an issue of the man and his pets and habits before you moved in. So yes how long you and he have lived at your respective addresses is quite relevant.
As for your tax bill saying "city" on it. That is irrelevant seeing as if you drive 5 mins in any direction and you hit "country". Furthermore the animals, like I said before will be and have been here for quite some time. Regardless of your neighbor or his feeding habits. So if your neighbor did not live there and did not feed the animals, then the wild animals would still be present in your neighborhood.
Yes what he is doing is wrong. According to the variance he received. The number of ducks and the breed is the issue with that. However what you and the neighbor with the lower than expected appraisal are would like to see is the other stuff be labeled as illegal too. Do yourself a favor and look up the definition of private property. He can do as he pleases with his property so long as it does not violate established city ordinances.
And don't fear Melissa, my children are taught the difference between right and wrong. They are also taught about how not to railroad someone.

Jul 15, 2010, 9:23am Permalink
Melissa Marsocci

Kim, I do not know where you have discovered your facts, but according to the dictionary, Batavia is a city, which is defined as a an incorporated urban centre with its own government and administration established by state charter, but whatever Kim, think what you want. Anyway, Pedro regarding the length of time we have been residents on Gateway Drive: the problems did not actually occur until about a year after we moved in, making it impossible for us to be aware of the situation. Also, I really don't think the realtor would have mentioned it...Just a thought. Again, like Kim, if it makes you feel better to call Batavia the country of Batavia, have fun, knock yourself out. As far as the presenece of the animals, AGAIN, various kinds and amounts were not there until he began putting food out for them. As I said many times, this problem has recently occurred over the past couple years, and it is not just our household that is concerned, but the one whole side of Gateway, as we have all been affected by it. And, as you asked, I looked up the definition of private property and it stated land or belongings owned by a person or group and kept for their exclusive use. However, we obviously know there are rules that go along with owning private property. Obviously, just because a person owns property, does not mean they have the right to do absolutely anything on it. Feeding wild animals violates a federal law as I stated in a previous comment. Lastly, how nice of you to teach your children right from wrong. I assure you, no one is railroading this man. In fact, as much as we wanted to report him, we feared doing so after the way he reacted to a neighbor on our street respectfully asking him to stop feeding the wild animals. I finally had an opportunity to vent on here, letting people know that clearly Mrs Collins is not crazy, and has more people on her side then she may know. I have never even met this Mrs. Collins but I wish her the best of luck!

Jul 15, 2010, 2:36pm Permalink
Jeremiah Pedro

I have been unable to find any law let alone a federal law that prohibits feeding of wild animals.
Some municipalities have laws as do some states, however, I was unable to find any such federal laws. Maybe you can enlighten us Melissa?

As for the real estate agent not telling you about the neighbor having ducks and feeding various other animals, well that is just your own bad fault for not doing your homework. You could have gone to the neighbors and asked about the area. Specifically about any troublesome neighbors. I'm sure Grazioplena was feeding his animals before you moved in next door and keeping an untidy yard. Maybe Mrs. Collins should have addressed these problems with city code enforcement prior to her wanting to sell her home. Because now it's a little to late and regardless of Grazioplena's behavior she will still look like the "bad guy" to a lot of people. I did not see anyone accuse Mrs. Collins of being crazy. Nor has anyone claimed that Grazioplena was NOT violating a city variance. I personally feel that her timing was poor with addressing the problem with her neighbor. Because from the original story it appears as though Grazioplena is in violation of more than just one code. (again can't find anything that keeps him from feeding wild animals)

Like I said before about animals being here before you were, well you can ignore that fact but it remains the same. The animals would be here regardless of your neighbor's activity. Because you put trash out and have plants around your home, that will attract various wild animals. If I were you I would be more concerned about the "cute" deer that frequent your neighborhood rather than any coyote.

Jul 15, 2010, 3:09pm Permalink
Melissa Marsocci

Jeremiah, apparently you have a reading comprehension problem because as I stated prior to your last comment, the wild animal issue began AFTER we moved in, approximately a year or so later. We absolutely did our homework, seeing as though we knew the people next door prior to moving in. Chances are Mrs. Collins did address the issues before now, as have MANY people in the area. The law regarding feeding wild animals was verbally spoken to me by a DEC officer. I hope he knows what he is doing. Also, let me once again tell you that it is not the ducks we are concerned about, but some of the more dangerous animals, such as the coyote, and last summer's rabid fox. To put this into better perspective for you, let's use a local situation, the gulls at Latinas. In comparison, you are the county health officer who states that this is not a public health hazard, yet does is not one of the business owners in that area, dealing with it everyday. We homeowners on Gateway are the business owners, sick and tired of dealing with a situation that is not necessary, and quite bothersome.

Jul 15, 2010, 3:36pm Permalink
jonathan bell

i live on the side of cheyenne mountain in colorado 10 minutes from NORAD i constantly has moutain lions in my yard and bears going through my trash cans should i complain and not put out trash or should i move? the animals were here first i bought a house on a freakin mountain just like you all bought houses on what used to be forest and swamp get over it its an animal it isnt messing with you its just doing what its species have been doing for 10000 years. go open a zima watch your liberal cnn and calm down

Jul 15, 2010, 9:44pm Permalink
Jeremiah Pedro


I have no reading comprehension problem.
It seems that you do however. Because you refuse to acknowledge the comment I have consistently made about the animals presence. They were here before you or your neighbor lived there. They will continue to live here.
For information on your man eating coyotes please read the information at the DEC website:

and further information on the coyote from the Suny College of environmental science and forestry:

You obviously didn't do your homework prior to moving in if your homework was limited to relying on information provided to you by the real estate agent. The agent has no interest in telling you about problems that may affect the sale. Maybe instead of all the neighbors attacking this man for his untidy yard should instead offer to help him maintain it. The man is obviously disabled or at least has limited mobility. To bad we can't all be good neighbors with out the "what's in it for me attitude." Actually now that I just said that, the mans neighbors doing a good turn by assisting him would actually benefit neighborhood by increasing the property values.

I was able to find a New York State regulation in regard to feeding wild animals. It concerns white tail deer.
Here is a link to the info I found (hardly a federal law):

While feeding the wild animals may not be a felonious action, I would say that it is unwise and irresponsible. But then I guess I could level those labels at everyone that puts their trash out on Tuesday nights couldn't I Melissa?

Jul 16, 2010, 12:14am Permalink
jonathan bell

how many of you have bird feeders hanging in your back yard? isnt a blue bird robin and pigeon also considered to be wild animals? or is your bird feeder an exception to your complaint. get over yourself and get a hobby if your houses were nice enough and priced right noone would care about a few ducks and i for one would love to live next to someone with ducks my son would go crazy and be over there everyday

Jul 16, 2010, 9:55am Permalink
Melissa Marsocci

Pedro, you really are a piece of work. I am going to reiterate for you one more time. When we moved in, there was no isssue other than the typical deer population that was often seen on Gateway Drive. A small table/desk was placed near our backyard where Grazioplena would have assistants of his, whom we pay for via our tax money, take food down. This food consisted of whatever items placed in a tray, as well as garbage scattered around. Now, if it makes you feel better for me to state that yes, garbage can bring animals (i.e. skunks) then fine, I will say yes that is true. However, once he began putting the food/garbage out, the deer population rose, and we became a host of all kinds of wild animals. Yes, I know animals are in our existence, but they remained in the woods until prompted by the food. Furthermore, when his garbage was scattered near our backyard, I certainly did not appreciate it blowing into our well kept yard. As for the DEC information, I am glad you have all that time to look up all those laws, but unless the DEC officers we spoke to via phone do not know what they're talkin about, that is what they told us. We could have made a complaint, but we chose not to after so many people warned us about how crazy this man is, and we saw it firsthand when he went insane on one of our neighbors asking him to refrain from putting food down. Plenty of people in the area have told us that this man can be dangerous, and because of having a child, we chose not to make a complaint. I can tell you though, there are multiple anonymous complaints from many in the area for all different reasons. Lastly, I cannot understand why you are so hard on sticking up for a man in a situatuon you know nothing about. There is way more to this story than what was printed on this site.

Jul 16, 2010, 1:10pm Permalink
Melissa Marsocci

George, I have commented most heavily on Jeremiah's posts because he is the only who has made some valid arguments in quite a while. You can call me whatever names you want, and yes, I am sticking to the facts, because the facts are what is important here. We live in that area, and are aware of the problems at hand. Do you live on Rt 98 or Gateway Drive? And, the ducks are not at all what I am concerned about. In fact, I saw the ducks for the first time 2 days ago! So shut your mouth!!!! Clearly it isn't me not reading the posts in entirety, it is you. Busy bodied? That's funny, because we have great relationships with all of the people on Gateway, and we are all in agreement here. I couldn't ask for better people to live around us. The only problem is the one behind us. As for the others behind us, never a problem, in fact we enjoy a friendly occasional wave with Mr. Acquino and Mr. Collins when mowing the lawn. So busybodied? Not quite

Jul 16, 2010, 3:01pm Permalink
Kim Grant

I love how Mr. Grazioplena started out to be the garbage collecting, duck owning, deer feeding, pest of a neighbor. Now he's down right crazy, dangerous, and a menace to society. He just keeps getting worse and worse. Maybe we should throw the book at him, lock him up and sell his house to someone who will make it fit into the streets perfect little world.

Jul 16, 2010, 3:08pm Permalink
Jill Turner

Are you serious? or were you joking ?

mlissa should get together and talk about everyone and anyone since you have so much time yelling at everyone on here and everyone can talk crap about what a ass and whatever about you and what a crazy nut cases you are and For you INFORMATION I know a lot of people on Gatway and I bet if I talk to them Just leave him alone I bet he has more people on his side then you do. Life is to short to be mad and pissed off about stupid crap like this. Friends don't care what your yard looks like or the outside of it.

Jul 17, 2010, 9:32pm Permalink
Kim Grant

Jill, that was a sarcastic reply, sorry you didn't get it. I see you didn't read my earlier replies. I am more on his side then anyone's. I'll try to be clearer next time.

Jul 17, 2010, 9:56pm Permalink
Jill Turner

Thanks Kim you had me worried for a min there. I am glad that you are. And I think alot of pepole are. Who cares what that Mlissa girl thinks and what does she have to show for it or gain nothing. I am going to help him win this and I am sure we can.

Jul 17, 2010, 10:26pm Permalink
Jeremiah Pedro

It is interesting that Melissa, your property does not even border my Grazeoplena's property. Your property is kitty corner to the Collins property. So any argument that you made earlier about trash from his property making it's way to your property is suspect.

I'm not trying to discount the fact that Grazeoplena has an untidy yard that may be in violation of city code.
However, I would like to offer that his yard is not the sole factor behind the price the Realtor said they would be able to list the Collins house for.
One factor mentioned earlier is the house being on a main road with heavy traffic(heavy traffic for this area). Another strike against the property is the location being directly across from where Union street meets Oak st. Another attribute of a property not highly sought after. After all who wants headlights shinning in their windows at all hours of the night. Granted that can be solved with the purchase of curtains that block out light, but buyers aren't thinking about stuff like that.

Jul 18, 2010, 9:55pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Jeremiah, if the house is accessed at $80K, then its position on Oak and such would already be factored into that price, because it would be based, in part, on what other homes on Oak sell for.

Jul 18, 2010, 10:15pm Permalink
Jeremiah Pedro

What a house sells for and what it is assessed for are two different animals.

For instance, a house at 107 Naramore drive is listed with Nothnagle Realtor s with an asking price of $259,000. The assessment listed on the Genesee county web map system is $230,000. That's a $29,000 dollar difference in the sellers favor. Also on 159 Bank St. there is a house also listed by Nothnagle, except it is listed at $54,900. The Genesee County web map system has the house assessed for $72,000. There you have a difference of $17,100.
The assessed value of a house will generally differ from the retail value of a house. The way a property is assessed is not the same way a Realtor will look at a property when determining the market value.

Jul 19, 2010, 7:50am Permalink

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