STOCKTON - Edward Buseck came to the recent Stockton Town Board meeting to ask why he can't tear down an old barn near the four corners in Stockton. Although he received a letter from Sam Mancuso, the Code Enforcement Officer, denying him a demolition permit, he said he wants a legal reason for the denial.
It seems the property line goes through the barn Buseck wants to demolish.
"I have never received a letter from the town attorney. I received a letter from somebody you have - wrote me a letter saying it could not be issued when I asked for a demolition permit. Because I only had a quit claim deed. Now that is totally irrelevant. Totally. Three-quarters of the people in the county own land through quit claim deeds," Buseck said.
OBSERVER Photos by Diane R. Chodan
Pictured above is the barn Stockton resident Edward Buseck wants to tear down. A tree has fallen in front of it.
"I am just saying the property boundary if you want to have it surveyed," Town Supervisor David Wilson answered.
"I've had it surveyed, sir. I knew where the line was before I bought the place. But I also knew that if I bought the building, I could improve it or take it down," Buseck cut in. "So I started to improve it but then I got threatened by many, many bad words and even a shot gun. All right? So I don't bother with it anymore. I am not going through that. It's an eyesore; it should be taken down. I'm willing to take it down. Now the people that are so-called in love with it never paid their taxes for 22 years. I'm speaking of the people that supposedly own the other half. The only reason I can think of is that you just don't want to ruffle a feather or two next door.
"I want that piece of property so I can put a store on the corner that I own. I can't put anything there. Anyone that looks at it said I can't do any development."
"When the property line is changed and you own the entire barn, then the town can issue you a demolition permit," Wilson answered.
Buseck continued to press his argument.
"Do you charge half of the taxes to what's her name? Carmichael or Meyers or somebody?"
"I'm not the assessor. Ask the assessor," Wilson answered.
"Yeah, it's always someone else, isn't it," Buseck said. "There is a board. There's got to be a reason for this."
"The property line goes out through the middle of the barn," Wilson repeated.
"It's always gone through the middle of the barn," Buseck said.
"You are absolutely correct," Wilson said.
"When you bought it, were you aware of that, out of curiosity here?" Councilman John Beichner asked Buseck.
"Very much aware," Buseck answered.
"At that point in time was there conversation between you and the owner?" Beichner followed up.
"That I'll never be able to do anything with it. That was the communication," Buseck said. "The lawyer in Mayville told me that I owned the building and that if I wanted to paint the side of it, I could paint the side of it. So I go down and start fixing the windows and so on and so forth and I get ..."
"So from day one you realized it wasn't all on your property line?" Beichner asked.
"Was I familiar with the building? Was I familiar with the property? Yes," Buseck said.
"Everyone here would love to see it gone, Ed. We can't. We're not the deciding factor that can give you a permit. We have to go by rules," Councilman Bryan Meder said.
"I think you should be able to give me a permit; I really do," Buseck said.
"Couldn't he take down his part?" a member of the public asked.
"If he wants to make the other structurally sound," Wilson answered.
"What's structurally sound now?" Buseck asked.
"That's the way it's written, Ed," Wilson said.
"I think we ought to have Jeff (Passafaro, town attorney) send him a letter stating why. I think we could do that," Meder said.
"I know legally according to Mr. Caflisch that's my building," Buseck said.
"In a general sense it is true that once property is bought at tax auction, the purchaser can fix or demolish buildings. ... I do give Mr. Buseck credit for trying to do the right thing," Jim Caflisch, Director of the Chautauqua County Department of Property Tax, reached after the meeting said.
Caflisch then explained that title is not guaranteed at a tax auction and that in his position he doesn't override zoning officers. It is possible that a title search would determine whether the property lines are accurate.
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