Pittsford Selectboard discusses emergency vehicles and bad neighbors


PITTSFORD—At its first meeting after Town Meeting last week, the Pittsford Selectboard last Wednesday re-elected Alicia Malay as its Chair and David Mills as Vice-Chair.  It was the first meeting of new Board member Dan Adams, who was elected to the seat vacated by Joe Gagnon.

The Board decided to table the slate of appointments to other town and committee positions that it had prepared because Board member Mark Winslow was absent.  These appointments will be made at the next regular Selectboard meeting.

The bulk of the meeting was taken up by a discussion of a set of properties on Fire Hill Road in Florence that have been the source of numerous complaints from adjacent landowners for their state of disrepair and neglect.  Several of those landowners appeared at the meeting to seek the town’s help in addressing what they described as dangerous and unsanitary conditions.  At least one of the properties is not inhabited but is regularly visited by its owner, who lives in Brandon and, neighbors claim, uses the Florence property to dispose of trash.

According to neighbors, the properties are covered with debris and garbage, animal carcasses, leaking tanks, and abandoned vehicles.  Moreover, the landowners use the land to house pigs, dogs, and even a peacock.  Recently, adjacent properties have been invaded by rats who have taken up residence.  Neighbors are concerned about contaminated runoff from the property infiltrating the ground water that feeds their home wells.

Town Manager David Atherton explained to attendees in the room and on Zoom that the town is limited in its ability to force landowners to comply with zoning laws.  The town cannot enter a property to force compliance.  The only recourse is to take the landowner to court.  Zoning administrator Jeff Biasuzzi, attending via Zoom, explained the limitations of his office to address the issue.

One neighbor stated that he had been in touch with state authorities and was told that any state action needed to be predicated on an action at the town level and suggested that the town health officer make a visit to the site to view the conditions for himself.

Mr. Atherton stated that the presence of rats could present an actionable health violation.  Mr. Atherton and the Board agreed to make a visit to the site later in the week to assess conditions.  A resident of Fire Hill Road immediately adjacent to the property in question offered access to her land so that the town contingent could get a close view of the subject property without having to enter it.

Attendees also indicated that the landowners had threatened neighbors who complained, leading some to fear “repercussions from these people.”

“This is a public health problem,” said Mr. Atherton.  “It’s disgusting and we’ll do what we can to fix it.”

The Board went on to discuss the need to purchase a new vehicle for Pittsford’s first responders, who currently use a 1990 Suburban SUV that Mr. Atherton described as being “in bad shape” and no longer capable of passing inspection.  The vehicle is used only for first responders and their gear.  It is not used to transport patients.

Mr. Atherton stated that it had been difficult to find a suitable replacement vehicle that fit the town’s budget, but a used Durango had been found at Pittsford Auto Center that could be outfitted with all the necessary equipment for significantly less than the town had allocated for the purchase.

The Board ultimately agreed to purchase the Durango for no more than $25K, including all necessary equipment, contingent upon satisfactory inspection.  

The Board’s final piece of public business was the approval of orders in the amounts of $10,396.07 and $83,618.25 to meet the town’s expenses and obligations.

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