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February 9, 2017 - 3:06pm

Judge rules in favor of developer building duplexes in the Village of Le Roy

posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, robbins nest, Presidential Acres, news.

A building permit for a duplex near Presidential Acres in Le Roy was legally issued, a judge has ruled in a multi-party lawsuit over the development in the subdivision.

The ruling is a victory of Pete McQuillen, a Le Roy businessman, who has been embroiled in legal battles with property owners in the area for years.

The latest round of legal action began in 2014 when 11 property owners in Presidential Acres filed an Article 78 proceeding against the Village of Le Roy, various officials in the village, and McQuillen and his business.

At the time, McQuillen had already completed two duplexes on 10 lots he owned on the west end of Presidential Acres, near Robbins Road. There had been no challenge to the building permits for those structures.

When a code enforcement officer issued a permit for Lot 18, that's when neighbors got together and tried to stop further development of duplexes in the neighborhood.

David Boyce, one of the plaintiffs, said in an affidavit that when he bought his lot on Filmore Drive, nothing in the record nor in the documents he researched, indicated that the neighborhood was zoned for anything other than single-family residences. He believes, he said, the presence of the duplexes lowers the value of his property. 

The plaintiffs also alleged that the duplexes run contrary to the comprehensive plan for the village.

In his affidavit, McQuillen said he relied on village board meeting minutes from when the subdivision was created to conclude that the subdivision was planned from the beginning to include 10 duplexes.

Judge Emilio Colaiacovo, who inherited the case from Judge Robert C. Noonan upon his retirement, ruled that based on the fact that the first two duplexes went unchallenged, that the code enforcement officer was acting within his authority to issue the permit, and nothing in the record indicated that the zoning board of appeals, upon reviewing the permit, acted in an "arbitrary and capricious manner" so he was compelled to rule in favor of McQuillen. 

Case law is clear, he said, that in the absence of evidence of an arbitrary or capricious decision, courts should respect the decisions of local bodies, such as the ZBA.

Before the duplex issue, McQuillen was involved in another legal battle over a planned senior community on property he owns next to Presidential Acres called Robbins Nest. He eventually lost that case, then subsequently built a storage shed on the back property line of Town Supervisor Steve Barbeau. A dispute over that structure resulted in a bit of shoving and the arrest of Barbeau. The storage shed was a subject of this lawsuit, alleged to be an illegal auxiliary structure, but Colaiacovo ruled that issue became moot once McQuillen built his single-family home on the lot once intended to be Robbins Nest.

We emailed Amy Kendell, an attorney for the plaintiffs, to ask if there was going to be an appeal of the ruling and we have not received a response.

UPDATE: We received an email response from Amy Kendell. She said there will be an appeal of the decision.

Candace Bower
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As a home owner in Presidental Acres, I am appalled. The first 2 duplexes were not next to our homes on Wilson St. The new duplex will be between homes in which we invested time and money in and were zoned residential. Notice to Leroyans. Do not build or buy in a nice neighborhood in LeRoy. The zoning board can change zoning based on personal friendships. Our neighborhood pays the highest taxes in town. For what? This is a disgrace.

Beth Kinsley
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God forbid! A duplex! There goes the neighborhood. And by the way, it's not the first duplex in Presidential Acres. In fact, Mr. Barbeau owns one on Franklin Avenue.

Candace Bower
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We are talking about the new section of Presidential Acres which consists of more expensive homes. Our tax rate was based on residential zoning. Do we get a rebate since it apparently now zoned for rentals?

Megan Rogers
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Ms. Bower-Isn't Mr. Barbeau's duplex closer to your backyard than the new duplexes? And, I've seen the new duplexes - these are ugly!? A Duplex does not diminish your property value but an undeveloped sub division does. I also believe homes that just sold in the Wilson neighborhood sold for more than their assessed value with the duplexes there. Also, everyone in LeRoy village pays the same tax rate.... I'm also aware of a young couple who moved to Leroy from out of state because these rentals were available and after renting for a time have since purchased a home in Leroy. I call that a win for Leroy!

david spaulding
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megan, your friends moved to Leroy from out of state because of these rentals? really ? i don't believe it .........

Megan Rogers
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No no not because of these rentals - they were already planning on coming to the area. But chose LeRoy over surrounding areas when these were available and then ultimately chose to stay in Leroy.

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