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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 21, 2010

Town gets tough on illegal junkyards

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — The town is enforcing its zoning laws to get rid of its illegal junkyards.

At its meeting on Tuesday, town board members unanimously voted to issue two final orders for cleanup — one for a commercial property, and another for a residence.

The commercial property, Bob’s Towing and Crushing, at 3600 Western Turnpike, has been under an order from the town for months. Rodger Stone said yesterday that the town has issued orders on multiple residential properties during his tenure as zoning enforcement officer, but that the final order issued for Bob’s Towing and Crushing is the first commercial order he has recommended.

 On Oct. 20, on Stone’s recommendation, the town board voted to enforce action on Robert Ciembrowniewicz, the property’s owner. The order required him to hire an environmental consultant to do the cleanup, or have the town hire contractors and bill him for the work.

Stone said he had been receiving complaints about Ciembrowniewicz’s property since the fall of 2007, about a variety of problems, ranging from thousands of tires on the property, to the leaks of petroleum products. Stone initiated contact with Ciembrowniewicz in February of 2008, and issued him tickets, violations, and even a stop-work order, all of which were ignored, he said.

The town’s order issued on Oct. 20 dictated that Ciembrowniewicz’s attorney, Stephen Rockmacher, must notify the town of an agreement between the property owner and an environmental consultant by Oct. 27. Within five business days, Ciembrowniewicz was to have all petroleum products removed from his property, and by Nov. 4, the town was to receive a report from an environmental consultant outlining a plan for cleanup.

Ciembrowniewicz was set to appear before the town board on Nov. 5, Dec. 1, and Dec. 15, and each time was issued a continuation. Stone said he had seen some effort made by Ciembrowniewicz, but was still waiting to receive the report from the environmental consultant, which Ciembrowniewicz indicated was being drafted.

But, as of Tuesday’s meeting, Stone reported that he had stopped seeing improvement on the property at 3600 Western Turnpike, and that he had spoken to Ciembrowniewicz’s environmental consultant, and had been informed that there was no report being drafted because the company had not been paid.

At the Oct. 20 meeting, Ciembrowniewicz told the town board that he was in a dire financial situation, and had invested $200,000 in his property. He said he was in danger of losing his business.

On Tuesday, Stone told the town board it was clear that Ciembrowniewicz was in default of the original order. Stone requested that the town board order Ciembrowniewicz to cease and desist work, and that the town solicit bids for the cleanup. The bill for all work done will go to Ciembrowniewicz. If he does not pay the bill up front, it will be added to his taxes.

The board voted unanimously to go out to bid for the cleanup of the property, for repair of the fence on the property, for installation of a concrete pad 500 feet from any property lines, and for repair and restoration of the driveway.

A kick-start?

The board also voted unanimously to issue an order on consent to Arnold Naparty, who lives at 3393 Carman Road. Naparty’s property is littered with debris, unlicensed vehicles, industrial equipment, and commercial vehicles, according to Stone.

Stone said there were complaints about the property dating back to 1983. He has issued tickets to Naparty over the years, but they were all adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, said Stone.

“The court has the ability to levy fines, but what good does a fine do? The court has no authority to go in there and clean up, but the town board does,” Stone said.

Residents of Sun Dew Drive, located behind Carman Road, spoke at the meeting, and said the view of Naparty’s backyard was a blight on their properties. Some neighbors said they had spent thousands of dollars installing fences and shrubbery in an attempt to block their view of the accumulated junk. All of the residents who spoke about Naparty’s property at the meeting agreed that the problem should be solved.

Naparty told The Enterprise that he admitted to being a packrat, and that the junk in his backyard has been an ongoing problem.

“I’d probably feel the same way as my neighbors do. That stuff doesn’t bother me; I grew up on a farm with a lot of debris. But, I can see their point,” Naparty said.

The town order dictates that Naparty has until March 31 to remove all unlicensed vehicles, remove all commercial vehicles and equipment, remove all rubbish, and secure building permits for any structures on the property that don’t have them.

Naparty said he had trailers he could use to haul things off of his property, and that the things he wanted to keep could be stored in his garage.

“Some people just need a kick-start, and maybe being here will give me that,” said Naparty. “I look around right now and think ‘Oh my God, what am I doing here?’”

Other business

In other business, the town board voted at recent meetings to:

— Release escrow for Saddlebrook Subdivision-Windsor Court as recommended by the town-designated engineer;

— Approve warrant adjustment for the Guilderland Water District;

— Authorize the supervisor to sign a collector’s warrant for the Guilderland Water District; and

— Re-zone premises at Gade Farm, LLC, located 2491 Western Ave., from R-20 to agricultural. The owner realized recently that a small part of his property, which he had thought was zoned for agriculture, was not.

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