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Residents of Presidential Acres in Le Roy pursuing new suit to stop duplex development

By Howard B. Owens

Residents of a development known as Presidential Acres in Le Roy and their neighbor Pete McQuillen are still scrapping over home building in the area.

In 2012, McQuillen had plans thwarted by a lawsuit to build a group of single-family homes for people 55 and older on 12 acres he owns off Robbins Road.

Now, McQuillen is one of nine defendants in a lawsuit brought by 12 homeowners in Presidential Acres.

The suit alleges that duplexes being built by McQuillen violate village zoning law and were improperly approved by the Village and the Zoning Board of Appeals. 

If the suit is successful, it could mean McQuillen would have to remove the buildings already completed and occupied.

The plaintiffs also alleged that the ZBA, as a hybrid body serving both the Village and Town of Le Roy, is an illegal entity that should be abolished. The village, the suit contends, should have its own ZBA.

After an initial hearing last week, Judge Robert C. Noonan issued a stay on any further development of duplexes, but primarily because the defendants didn't oppose the stay on one lot in particular and any lots not yet planned for development.

Preliminary injunctions in lawsuits are usually only granted in cases where a judge deems the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their case. 

"The Village's opposition and relatively complex zoning history of the subdivision, petitioners likelihood of success is by no means clear," Noonan wrote in his decision.

The plaintiffs in the case are Randolf Bartz, Jane Bickett, Candace Bower, David Boyce, Robert Boyce, Elizabeth Boyce, Joseph Condidorio, John Green, Joseph McKay, Stephen Moulton and Ronald Paganin.

The defendants are the Village of Le Roy, the Zoning Board of Appeals, Jeffrey Steinbrenner (code enforcement officer), Daniel Lang (code enforcement officer), John Gillard, Duzmor Painting, Inc., Circular Hill, Inc., Peter McQuillen, Judith McQuillen and John Does.

In 2012, McQuillen lost a lawsuit brought by Boyce and Town Supervisor Steve Barbeau, who both have properties adjacent to a 12-acre parcel where McQuillen planned to build homes for people 55 and older.

Boyce and Barbeau prevailed in that suit, which also named the village as a defendant, and that development was halted.

Subsequently, McQuillen started building duplexes on property off Filmore Drive, an -- at the time -- unfinished street connecting Presidential Acres with Robbins Road.

During this time period in 2013, McQuillen built a barn near the property line of Barbeau's residence.

Barbeau and other Presidential Acres residents challenged the legality of the barn, but after McQuillen requested a permit to built a house on the same property, the ZBA allowed the barn to stand.

The new lawsuit challenges that ZBA determination and seeks to have the barn removed.

In August of 2013, Barbeau confronted McQuillen over activity adjacent to Barbeau's residence. Barbeau allegedly pushed McQuillen and was later arrested. That criminal case is still pending.

(Previously: Barbeau and McQuillen feud building for months)

The main point of contention in the new suit (we'll call it the Bartz suit, after the first name listed on the Plaintiff's side) is that one side claims Presidential Acres is zoned R-1, meaning only single-family residents and other side claims that when the subdivision was created, it was planned to contain at least 10 duplexes.

McQuillen's construction of duplexes has been based on his belief, and approvals have been granted by the village and the ZBA, that Presidential Acres can have up to 10 duplexes in the subdivision.

The Presidential Acres subdivision was approved by the village in January 1989, with up to 10 duplexes permitted. 

It's the contention that development of the subdivision was suspended in 1999 and there were no plans at that time for duplexes.

A new zoning law that made the entirety of the village R-1 was enacted in August 1990. 

The plaintiff's contend, then, that the subdivision as once approved is no longer in effect and current zoning law makes all property in the neighborhood eligible for only single-family home development.

The ZBA issued a determination in June that the subdivision rules still apply to development within the Presidential Acres area.

In his own affidavit, Lang, a code enforcement officer with the Town of Batavia, who is part of a shared services agreement with Le Roy, states that if Presidential Acres is indeed R-1 and not a subdivision, several of the plaintiff's homes are out of compliance with zoning because their frontage doesn't conform to R-1 zoning.

Lang said he believes the subdivision rules still apply and the duplexes are permitted.

It will be matter for further court proceedings to determine which side is interpreting Le Roy's conflicting zoning rules correctly.

Megan Rogers

Just an addition - where it says that McQuillen/village of LeRoy lost a law suit in 2012 brought by Boyce and Barbeau, halting the Robbins Nest project ... After the lawsuit was filed, the Village realized they made a filing error when processing the proposal for Robbins Nest, and thus had to repeal the previous approval they already gave to McQuillen. McQuillen then had to go through the process of obtaining an approval again and two members of the Village Board abstained from that vote (an employee at Tompkins Insurance and the uncle of Barbeau), leaving them without enough members to hold the vote. The lawsuit then became a moot point because Robbins Nest was not going to come to fruition without the board members being willing to vote yes or no.

Aug 11, 2014, 7:22pm Permalink
Raymond Richardson

I have the best solution:

DO away with the ZBA, and let property owners do whatever they want to land they own.

Problem solved!

I mean seriously, is this all Le Royans have to do is sue one another over zoning and property use?

Aug 12, 2014, 8:31am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

"I mean seriously, is this all Le Royans have to do is sue one another over zoning and property use?"

I forgot to include this quote from Noonan from the hearing the other day (I only caught the tail end of it since I didn't know about it before hand):

"I was thinking about having the town and village of Le Roy secede from the county to keep my case load down."

Aug 12, 2014, 8:44am Permalink
Candace Bower

Our lawsuit against McQuillen is an inch thick- that's how many code violations he has violated. What are we to do? When we built our homes, this was all farm land. He has gone out of his way to be obnoxious. The family across the street had a graduation party in June and he deliberately parked his trucks and personal cars so no one could park nearby to attend the party. He dropped a 4 story tree on the roof of my other neighbor on purpose, never apologized or paid for the tree removal. He built a barn 10 feet from my neighbor's picture window just to be mean. Laws are for a reason. Just because this is a small town and he happens to be friends of certain people, does NOT make him exempt from the law. If we don't hold the line, your neighborhood could be next!

Aug 12, 2014, 2:08pm Permalink

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