Oak Street resident can keep his ducks, but must comply with new conditions
An Oak Street man with a fondness for waterfowl will get to keep his ducks and continue some of his hobbies in his yard, but with new restrictions.
As part of a plea bargain, Ron Graziaplena, of 172 Oak St., admitted to keeping debris in his back yard, a violation of city code, and agreed to a number of conditions on his continued ability to keep 10 mallard ducks as pets and grow tomatoes and build waterfowl-related projects.
The deal was worked out Friday afternoon over three and a half hours, at a time when his trial on numerous alleged code violations was scheduled. Almost all the negotiations were held in open court with Batavia City Court Judge Robert Balbick presiding.
Balbick told Graziaplena that he would be fair with him if Graziaplena made substantial progress toward complying with the plea agreement between now and his sentencing on April 15.
The main agreement regarding the ducks is that Graziaplena can keep only 10, except when there are hatchlings, which must be released in an Elba swamp owned by Graziaplena's family before Oct. 1 of each year.
A neutral, non-governmental, qualified inspector will visit the property twice a year -- on or about July 1 and on or about Oct. -- to ensure Graziaplena is maintaining only a 10-duck population and they are kept in sanitary, humane conditions.
Graziaplena will be required to build a six-foot-high stockade-type fence along his south property line from the garage to the back corner of the lot and for some distance along the back property line.
He must also install a stockade-style gate across his driveway from the southeast corner of his house to his property line on the south.
The gate is intended to create a visual barrier for anything on his driveway, from construction materials for his projects and his tomato boxes.
Graziaplena prefers to work on his projects in the front yard. He can continue to do so during the day, but come nightfall, he will be required to put all construction materials behind the gate.
He must also keep his BBQ grill behind the gate rather than in the yard.
In recent months, Graziaplena has mounted a number of duck decoys atop 10-foot-high poles along his south property line, and more recently added waterfowl-themed wind vanes that he said he made.
He acknowledged that some of his neighbors are aggravated by the poles, but said the decoys are left over from his hunting days and just a symbol of his hobby. He said he plans to start selling the wind vanes.
"I've gotten many compliments on them, your honor," Graziaplena said. "Several of my friends want them for themselves. Perhaps you would like one?"
Balbick said he couldn't accept the offer.
The judge ordered that all of the pole structures be taken down before sentencing and that they remain down for at least the duration of Graziaplena's conditional discharge (a six-month period after his sentence in which Graziaplena must remain violation free to avoid having the original charges reinstated).
Graziaplena also keeps a boat on the north side of his house. He must either put a driveway on the north side to set the boat on or start keeping the boat on his south side driveway.
About a half dozen of Graziaplena's supporters were at the courthouse Friday, many of them planning to testify in the trial. One neighbor who is unhappy with the situation on Graziaplena's property attended the hearing.
"I want to see that property code compliant," Balbick told Graziaplena after accepting his guilty plea. "I'm not going to punish you just for the purpose of punishing you, but I do have an obligation to the people of this city to see that the yard is safe and there isn't debris strewn about throughout the yard and that the yard is sanitary."
Photos: Take at Graziaplena's residence on Friday.
People need to mind there own business. As long as no one is being harmed leave others alone. Remember the next person who has a complaint lodged against him or her may be you!
i agree --