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Presidential Acres

February 14, 2019 - 2:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, Le Roy, Robbin's Nest, Presidential Acres, notify, land use..

An attorney for residents of Presidential Acres in Le Roy said today following a hearing in Genesee County Supreme Court that her clients are proceeding with an appeal of a ruling against their attempt to overturn a Town of Darien judge's dismissal of their effort to enforce a Zoning Board of Appeals decision.

The residents, with Steve Barbeau as lead plaintiff, believe that Pete McQuillen should use a driveway on Robbins Road, and not on Fillmore Street, to access an auxiliary structure and residence on his property at 9313 Robbins Road, Le Roy.

They believe a ZBA decision requires McQuillen and any visitors to his property to use the Robbins Road driveway.

In January, Justice Emilio Colaiacovo dismissed an Article 78 motion by Barbeau and co-petitioners to overturn a decision by Darien Town Justice Michelle Krzemien dismissing a criminal complaint against McQuillen that was based on the ZBA decision for allegedly violating Village of Le Roy code.

In that ruling, Colaiacovo used harsh language to criticize the actions of the petitioners and also said Krzemien was within her authority to dismiss the criminal charges "in the interest of justice." 

He ordered a hearing, scheduled for this morning, on repayment of attorneys fees for the Town of Darien stemming from the Article 78 petition challenging her decision and right to make the decision.

At the hearing this morning, attorney David M. DiMatteo, representing the Town of Darien, said the town and judge were waiving a claim on reimbursement of attorney fees.

After court, DiMatteo explained that the fees expended so far were covered by insurance but if the town were involved in the ongoing appeal, the town could incur expenses that would not be covered by insurance. 

"It's not really our fight," he said.

Amy Kendall, representing Barbeau and the other plaintiffs, confirmed for Colaiacovo that the petitioners' appeal excludes Krzemien and lets stand his ruling that Krzemien acted within her authority as a town justice.

After court Kendall said the appeal is an attempt to enforce the ZBA decision and is focused on those topics of the Article 78 proceeding.

Pete McQuillen and Judith McQuillen were in court this morning as observers.

Previously: Latest court ruling doesn't look like end of long-running neighborhood dispute in Le Roy

January 23, 2019 - 11:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, Le Roy, Robbin's Nest, Presidential Acres, notify, land use.

mcquillendrivewayjan2019-2.jpg

Good fences make good neighbors the poet Robert Frost observed, but that may not apply to driveways, at least not in Le Roy.

A driveway is the latest flashpoint in a nearly decade-long neighborhood dispute that pits local businessman Pete McQuillen against Steve Barbeau and other residents of the subdivision known as Presidential Acres.

In the latest chapter, McQuillen was brought up on criminal charges for use of a driveway that traverses a parcel he owns next to the residence of Barbeau. It allows him to access both a utility building he constructed behind Barbeau's lot and the single-family home he and his wife, Judith, now live in further back on their parcel.

A judge in Darien Town Court dismissed the criminal complaint, which prompted Barbeau and several other residents to file an Artice 78 petition seeking, among other things, to overturn the dismissal.

An Article 78 filing, or proceeding, is an appeal of an agency decision. It is how a citizen in New York can appeal to judge in a county supreme court the ruling or decision of any government agency in the state.

Barbeau's side lost in a harshly worded decision written by Justice Emilio Colaiacovo of the NYS Supreme Court 8th Judicial District.

"As this Court has some familiarity with these parties and prior proceedings, it is deeply troubled by the continued methods employed by the Petitioners," Colaiacovo wrote. "While it is one thing to complain about your neighbor, it is another to install video equipment and keep a log documenting your neighbor's activities in an attempt to subject and expose him to criminal prosecution. The Petitioners' demonstrated pattern of prosecution against their neighbor is nothing short of harassment."

Despite the ruling, the legal proceedings are likely to continue, Barbeau indicted in an email to The Batavian.

History of Disputes
McQuillen purchased property in the Fillmore/Robbins Road area, adjoining Presidential Acres, in September 2010.

Shortly after acquiring the property, McQuillen announced his intention to build 26 single-family homes for people 55 and over on the subdivision, which McQuillen dubbed "Robbins Nest." This met with opposition and eventually resulted in a lawsuit with Barbeau, supervisor in the Town of Le Roy, as one of the plaintiffs.

The legal challenges eventually brought an end to McQuillen's plans for Robbins Nest, but by that time he was being sued over duplexes he built in the subdivision as well as a challenge to the utility barn he built behind Barbeau's home.

McQuillen eventually prevailed in the challenge to the duplexes and in that ruling, issued in February 2017, Colaiacovo determined the challenge to the utility structure was moot because McQuillen had built a single-family residence on the property (a utility structure, or garage, or barn, is not permitted as a stand-alone structure on a lot in a single-family area, according to Village of Le Roy code).

Village code enforcement had, perhaps incorrectly, issued a building permit to McQuillen for the utility building before plans were submitted for the single-family residence.

While McQuillen was erecting that barn-like structure in August 2013, Barbeau became upset with McQuillen when a tree fell on his house (there was little or no damage). An argument ensued and an accusation that Barbeau shoved McQuillen, causing him to fall ot the ground, leading to Barbeau's arrest (Barbeau eventually received a conditional discharge).

It was during this time that Barbeau and his then-neighbor David Boyce (who has since moved) had their own complaints against McQuillen. McQuillen was accused of parking construction equipment in front of their homes; storing waste construction material on the property across the street; and of once dumping a pile of manure against the back property line Boyce's home just in time for a graduation party for Boyce's daughter (an allegation recounted in a recent email to The Batavian from Amy Kendall, attorney for the Presidential Acres residents).

In July 2013, the Village granted a building permit for McQuillen to construct a single-family home with an address of 9313 Robbins Road.

Boyce and neighbors, in a lawsuit titled Bartz vs. Le Roy, challenged the ZBA's decision on the building permit.

As part of its decision, the ZBA ruled (and this point is part of the ongoing dispute) that ingress and egress for 9312 Robbins Road would be from a driveway leading to Robbins Road.

The neighbors ended up withdrawing the suit, letting the ZBA decision stand, in order to challenge McQuillen's use of the driveway leading to Fillmore Street.

Barbeau began keeping a log of traffic on that driveway, and at the suggestion of a code enforcement officer, set up a video camera to monitor vehicle traffic on the driveway.

That evidence was eventually used to file a criminal complaint against McQuillen. The case was moved to Darien because both justices in Le Roy had a conflict of interest as did Judge Gary Graber in Darien, which is how the case was handed to Darien Town Justice Michelle Krzemien.

The Easement
Pete and Judith McQuillen own the parcel at 9313 Robbins Road.

Judith McQuillen is CEO of Circular Hill Inc., according to a court filing by attorney Kendall, and that corporation owns the parcel adjoining Fillmore Street.

In September 2013, Circular Hill granted an easement to the McQuillens for use of a driveway and utility connections attached to the Robbins Road residence.

In July 2014, the Zoning Board of Appeals affirmed its prior decision to issue a building permit, after hearing an appeal from the neighbors, and stated in its decision, "The board notes the owners' right of entry to the primary and accessory structure will be accessed through Robbins Road."

It's the position of Barbeau and his co-plaintiffs that the decision limits the McQuillens to using only the drive leading to Robbins Road.

One point of contention in the case is that McQuillen did not mention, nor did the ZBA ask about, nor did anybody apparently research, the easement on the property next to Barbeau's.

McQuillen did not appeal this decision and later claimed he did not know about the ZBA's written decision requiring access on Robbins Road.

The McQuillens received a certificate of occupancy for their new home in June 2016.

Later that month, Pete McQuillen testified in the Bartz case that he used the Robbins Road driveway for ingress and egress to his house.

In July 2016, Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Steinbrenner sent a letter to McQuillen notifying him that he was violating Village code and the ZBA decision by using the Fillmore Street driveway.

From August 2016 through January 2017, Barbeau made a log of vehicles using the Fillmore Street driveway, which included a black Dodge Ram, a white GMC SUV, a gray pickup, a FedEx truck, tractors, a four-wheeler, and several other vehicles.

The following February, the Village filed a criminal complaint against McQuillen.

The case was transferred to Darien Town Court in May and McQuillen's attorney Benjaman Bonarigo filed a motion to dismiss the criminal complaint "in the interest of justice" in the fall.

A hearing on the motion was held Dec. 3, 2017.

The Dismissal Hearing
In New York, a criminal case can be dismissed "in the interest of justice" if a judge finds compelling factors about the circumstances of the case that clearly demonstrate that prosecution, or conviction, would result in an injustice, such as insufficiency of evidence or the defendant was really doing nothing wrong.

At the dismissal hearing in People v. McQuillen, Bonarigo represented McQuillen and James Wujcik represented the Village of Le Roy.

Kendall and Barbeau were also present and both attempted to speak and Krzemien denied their requests, an effort characterized by Colaiacovo in his ruling as an attempt to influence the proceedings.

In her subsequent filings, Kendall would have a few complaints about this hearing:

  • That neither Bonarigo nor Wujcik corrected Krzemien on relevant points of law;
  • That Wujcik did not correct what Kendall sees as inaccurate factual statements during the hearing and that he did not sufficiently challenge Bonarigo on points of law;
  • That neither attorney corrected Krzemien on misstatements about the county issuing the easement;
  • That Bonarigo failed to produce citations to back his assertion that the easement barred his client from being charged criminally;
  • That she wasn't allowed to speak in violation of court rules.

At the hearing, Bonarigo spoke first, according to a court transcript, and presented the facts of the case as he saw it, from McQuillen's purchase of the property in 2010 through McQuillen's eventual criminal charge. He covered the easement and the ZBA hearings.

In the midst of his presentation, Krzemien interrupted and explained why she had not read filings from Kendall relevant to the Bartz case.

"I did not look at the paperwork because I don't know too much about zoning and you (Bonarigo) told me the appellate -- the appellate decision had nothing do with what was laid out here," she said.

A short time later, Bonarigo sums up, "Let me just say ... there's an easement. It's a matter of record. It allows for exactly what Mr. McQuillen is accused of doing here in a quasi-criminal matter. Therefore, it's our contention that based upon those facts and what's before this court, documentarily, that you should dismiss this case in the interest of justice."

In response, Wujcik argues that the ZBA had already ruled that McQuillen could only access his property from Robbins Road.

"Mr. McQuillen never disclosed that he had an easement," Wucik said. "So since he didn't disclose it, then the business about that he wasn't aware of the ZBA's decision -- our position is that's misplaced because he was the defendant in a litigation, so he certainly was aware of the two -- there's also a different ZBA decision against him -- but he was aware of that."

After more discussion, Krzemien asked who issued an easement, the village or the county.

Wujcik explained that private citizens grant easements, with a short explanation of how the process works, and that once two private parties agree on an easement, it is filed with the relevant government agency.

After the explanation, Krzemien asked, "So I guess what I'm asking is, ... in the VIllage of Le Roy, is there a process that you would go through to get an easement or all easements issued through the county?"

Bonarigo: "No, there is no such procedure."

Krzemien: "No such procedure."

There is then a long discussion related to issues contained in the Bartz case.

Returning to the requirement to use Robbins Road, Bonarigo said, "The ZBA can't create that by law over the top ... they can't take away a legal right that has been formulated for years prior to it by just a stroke of the pen. They don't have that kind of authority. As a matter of law, the easement was in existence."

Wujcik said the ZBA has the authority to nullify an easement, and as to the assertion that the ZBA didn't ask about the easement, "the Zoning Board of Appeals doesn't know what it doesn't know. If they are not made aware of an easement, they can't make an interpretation or a ruling on it."

Bonarigo: "They were made aware of it, Judge. That's my point."

He would later point out that the easement is on file with the clerk's office and is a public document and easily discoverable. In reviewing court documents obtained by The Batavian we didn't find any indication the ZBA was made aware of the easement prior its decision, nor is there any indication any ZBA member or staff member tried to research the title of the property.

After more discussion, Krzemien makes reference to the county granting the easement and discusses the life of the easement, which goes with the land.

Wujcik did not correct her misstatement about the easement being granted by the county but did agree it goes with the land.

Later, Wujcik points out that the McQuillens filed the easement two weeks after the first ZBA discussion of the property but before any ZBA decision.

At this point, Kendall tries to speak and Bonarigo objects.

"This is not a civil matter despite what Ms. Kendall might think," Bonarigo tells the judge.

Krzemien: "Ms. Kendall, I'm sorry. I'm not going to hear what you have to say, so will you have to sit down, please."

A few pages later in the transcript, Krzemien again refers to the county issuing the easement and neither attorney corrects her misstatement.

At one point, Krzemien complains about Kendall, "I'm not. I'm not. I know you're just -- got information from him. And that little bird back there is chirping at you."

Wujcik: "Yeah, I don't need her -- no disrespect to her, I don't need the chirping."

When it comes time to discuss when Krzemien might issue a decision, Krzemien asks that McQuillen, in the meantime, stop driving bulldozers down the driveway, along with snowmobiles and four-wheelers; asking that they only use the driveway for their own personal vehicles, except for snow removal. McQuillen agrees.

On April 16, Krzemien granted McQuillen's motion, dismissing the criminal complaint in the interest of justice, noting the existence of a valid easement.

The Village of Le Roy did not appeal Krzemien's decision, and Wujcik later informed Colaiacovo that the Village would not be joining the challenge by neighbors to the ruling.

The Batavian emailed Wujcik last week and asked why the Village did not appeal the ruling, as well as why Wujcik did not mount a more explicit challenge to Bonarigo's assertion that the easement took precedence over Village code or the ZBA decision. After acknowledging our questions and saying he would respond, he did not provide a statement.

The Batavian also contacted Bonarigo and asked him to provide case law citations or specific code sections that would indicate an easement takes precedence over local codes or a ZBA decision.

Bonarigo responded:

A decision was rendered by Justice Emilio Colaiacovo, Supreme Court, supporting my client's position on the Art. 78. I trust you have read that and would hope that you are going to report that result as I don't care to relitigate the Town of Darien case with you.

Bonarigo has declined to comment on follow-up questions.

Article 78 Petition and Ruling
Kendall filed an Article 78 petition May 16. The petition was on behalf of Barbeau, Earl Bickett, Robert Boyce, Joseph McKay, Stephen Moulton, and Ronald Paganin, all property owners in Presidential Acres.

In her motion, Kendall said the petitioners had no other means of seeking remedy than through an Article 78 petition.

The petition asks the court to annul Krzemien's "arbitrary, capricious, and illegal decision." Kendall claimed the ruling was based on insufficient information and misunderstanding of relevant law. Kendall asked the court to rule the use of the driveway off of Fillmore Street illegal and order that it no longer be used.

She asked that the court rule that the McQuillens' use of the driveway constituted a nuisance.

As part of the motion to overrule Krzemien's decision and bar use of the driveway, Kendall complains that the Village of Le Roy failed to challenge the judge's inaccurate statements and that her clients have experienced special damages.

She also asks for attorneys fees, court costs and punitive damages.

By the third page of his 17-page opinion rendering his decision, Colaiacovo is sniping at the petitioners.

"The petitioners live near McQuillen and have exhaustively and painstakingly monitored this otherwise innocuous activity and complaint to the Village of Le Roy," Colaiacovo writes.

The justice ruled that since the criminal proceeding involved only the Village of Le Roy, which declined to participate in the petition, and McQuillen, the petitioners lacked standing to file the motion.

The petitioners failed to demonstrate any injury or harm they sustained because McQuillen used the driveway, Colaiacovo said, adding, "It certainly is not a nuisance as Petitioners maintain, however, there is mounting evidence to suggest that these continued lawsuits are."

He dismissed the complaint against Krzemien, saying that even if the petitioners had standing, Krzemien has judicial immunity.

"Petitioners insist that they have a viable cause of action against the Town Justice because she lacked subject matter jurisdiction over a ZBA decision. Petitioners strangely maintain that by granting the motion to dismiss, the judge erroneously invalidated a ZBA decision by passing judgment on the validity of an easement. However, the Town Justice insists that these charges were dismissed 'in the interest of justice.' This court agrees that the Petitioners' argument improperly mischaracterizes the decision of the Town Justice."

While a town justice doesn't have subject matter jurisdiction, Colaiacovo said, they can dismiss such matters "in the interest of justice."

"Judge Krzemien's determination was just that, a determination and exercise of her judgment, and not a ministerial or clerical act that could be reviewed under Article 78."

He added later in the same section, "to otherwise entertain the relief requested would create a terrible precedent, allowing officious, meddlesome individuals, like those here, an opportunity to intervene and challenge any judge's decision that offends their belief of what the law should be. Sanctioning the relief requested by the Petitioners would only empower like-minded obstreperous people who are engaged, as is the case here, in a simple yet ongoing neighborhood dispute."

While the neighbors sought attorneys fees, court costs, and punitive damages, Colaiacovo notes the arguments of Bonarigo claim that the Article 78 petition was "frivolous" and that challenging the town justice's decision was "beyond zealous representation and of a client and constituted an abuse of process."

Colaiacovo also faulted Kendall and Barbeau for what he said was attempted interference in the McQuillen case at the Dec. 3 hearing and then commencing the Article 78 petition without standing.

"This tactic, which is completely lacking in merit and cannot be supported by a reasonable argument, cannot now be simply overlooked," Colaiacovo wrote. "When viewed in its entirety, the conduct of Petitioners clearly evidences a systematic and torrid legal assault of anyone who stands in the way of what they ultimately seek, including a local Town Justice. This court finds that this reckless and egregious conduct justifies the imposition of costs and fees."

Colaiacovo ordered a hearing on costs and fees for 9:30 a.m., Feb. 14.

Kendall said her clients remain unsatisfied with the response of the Village to the situation, unhappy with Krzemien's ruling, and with Colaiacovo's opinion upholding that decision.

"My clients simply want the McQuillens to comply with the law of the Village," Kendall wrote in an email to The Batavian. "I do not know why that is so difficult. The McQuillens have at least one other driveway onto their property, so the reason they continue to violate the ZBA Decision seems clear. The Village did not support its Code Enforcement Officer’s determination that McQuillen was violating the ZBA Decision by appealing the Justice Court’s obviously incorrect decision. At this point, it appears that having an easement allows you to violate Village law and that is a very dangerous precedent."

She added, "My clients do not want to live with this ongoing harassment and feel that they should be protected from it by the Village. The Village isn’t protecting them."

Given a chance to respond to Kendall's remarks, McQuillen replied, "My response would be to only quote the Supreme Court Judge Hon. Emilio Colaiacovo in his decision – 'The Petitioners’ demonstrated pattern of prosecution against their neighbor is nothing short of harassment.' "

This is probably not the end of the story.

Previously:

Photos: Top and bottom photo made Jan. 17. The top photo is the driveway from Fillmore Street. The bottom photo is the driveway from Robbins Road. Both drives showed evidence of regular use at the time the photos were taken. "Skippy's Way" refers to a friend of Pete McQuillen's, he said.

mcquillendrivewayjan2019.jpg

mcquillenmap.jpg

Map of the area we created in 2013 to provide an overview of who owned what property. Fillmore Street now connects with Robbins Road. David Boyce is no longer a resident of Presidential Acres.

March 27, 2018 - 3:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Presidential Acres, Le Roy, news.

Pete McQuillen has plans for more development at his property in Presidential Acres in the Village of Le Roy.

But that apparently won't include duplexes, which just became a lot harder for him to build on those lots with an appellate court ruling last week that found he would need to seek a variance from current zoning to build duplexes.

Asked about the court decision this morning in an email, McQuillen did not have a lot to say, other than that his plans for new construction will "mirror" the findings of a recent Genesee County housing needs assessment report.

"However, I am not just ready to relay my plans for the balance of the subdivision," McQuillen said. "I will say we have an OPEN HOUSE on April 14 and April 21 showing our brand new patio home. Again, mentioned as a need in the study."

The legal battle between McQuillen and residents of Presidential Acres has been ongoing for nearly a decade and in February, McQuillen received a court ruling that would allow him to build duplexes on his lots.

The plaintiffs -- Randolph Bartz, Jane Bickett, Candace Bower, David Boyce, Robert Boyce, Elizabeth Boyce, Joseph Condidorio, John Green, Joseph Mckay, Stephen Moulton, and Ronald Paganin -- were able to get that decision overturned last week, however.

The case stemmed from an appeal in 2015 by David Boyce of the Zoning Board of Appeals' decision to grant a building permit for a duplex on Lot 18. The ZBA relied on the fact that two lots already had duplexes, built by McQuillen and his partners, on them and therefore a variance wasn't necessary.

When the ZBA denied the Boyce appeal, Boyce and the other residents sought relief from the courts. Judge Emilio L. Colaiacovo sided with the ZBA and the village, but the Fourth Division of the state Appeals Court ruled last week that the right to build duplexes in what is clearly an R-1 zone had not vested.

Amy Kendall, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the ruling gave her clients exactly what they sought all along -- no duplexes without a variance approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals for the Village of Le Roy.

Such a variance, she said, would be a hard bar to pass.

"I can tell you without hesitation that my clients are pleased with the outcome," Kendall said.

February 9, 2017 - 3:06pm
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.

October 16, 2014 - 5:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Presidential Acres, robbins next.

Mayor Greg Rogers is taking responsibility for an alleged illegal paving of a privately owned road that connects Robbins Road with the Presidential Acres subdivision in the Village of Le Roy.

At the beginning of the month the village received a letter from Amy Kendall, an attorney representing some of the residents of Presidential Acres, notifying trustees that in the attorney's view, the village has illegally spent at least $48,000 on paving and maintaining a road owned by local developer and businessman Pete McQuillen.

At Wednesday's village board meeting, Rogers said he supported the project to go forward because he thought the village already owned the land that extended Fillmore Road to Robbins Road.

That is apparently not the case, though a village attorney is researching it further.

"This has been a very confusing, very cloudy track for the whole time, for the whole thing," Rogers said. "I did a lot of research and talked with a lot of people. We're not going to throw anybody under the bus here, except myself, because this is my bus and if it happens on my shift, it's my responsibility."

He then called on former mayor Sid Horgan to share what he recalled about the ownership of that part of Fillmore Road, and Horgan said he remembered the village board passing a resolution accepting ownership of the roadway.

"I never went out and measured it," Horgan said. "I relied on other people."

Roger Lander, who was public works director in 1991 for the village, said it was his understanding then that the roadway was planned as an eventual village road. The sewer and water connections were put in. Two houses on the corner were originally built to have their front entrance on Fillmore Road rather than Robbins Road.

The village paid to have Fillmore paved, and curbs put in, a year ago.  The village has been maintaining the road, including plowing in the winter.

Kendall calls these expenditures an unconstitutional gift of taxpayer funds to a private party. She said if the village doesn't recover the expenditures from McQuillen, then the trustees would be individually liable, under state law, for the funds.

McQuillen has built duplexes off Fillmore Road, and those duplexes are now occupied.

The attorney's letter suggests those duplexes were built illegally because Fillmore wasn't a village-owned, dedicated road.

Presidential Acres residents are already embroiled in a lawsuit against McQuillen and the village over construction of the duplexes.

While Rogers said he didn't know the land was privately owned, the attorney's letter says that Presidential Acres resident David Boyce spoke with village officials about it Oct. 23, 2013. 

The letter also states that at a May 15, 2012 planning board meeting, McQuillen said that it was "the developer's responsibility to finish the street and that's my intent," and that it was his intent "to put curbs and pavement in there this year." The letter states, "Therefore, both the developer and the village were on notice that McQuillen owned the roads and was responsible for paving them prior to dedication."

Rogers said it's his intention to make the situation right.

"By all means, I'm taking full responsibility for the whole thing," Rogers said. "My plan is to go forward and seek reimbursement from the developer. We have two houses on the street. There are people there who are citizens of Le Roy and they deserve all the services of the village. We'll try to work out some kind of negotiations with the developer to recoup what we may have put in for the road and in turn finish the road so the street can be dedicated and we can provide the residents with snow plowing and emergency services and all the things they deserve."

August 11, 2014 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, robbins nest, Presidential Acres.

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.

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