By DAVE GYMBURCH Staff writer
TOWN OF LEE — A complex and long-running permit dispute over a Turin Road dog kennel is generating new legal steps by the kennel owner, including plans to launch a suit against the town in June for financial damages.
A second notice of claim against the town was filed in May, said attorney James Rizzo, representing Kerry L. Casler, owner of All Creatures Boarding & Grooming Facility at 9000 Turin Road.
In addition, "a formal suit is being prepared which I expect to file in June," said Rizzo. Suits against municipalities generally are prohibited from listing a specific sum for damages, he noted. A notice of claim basically provides notice of a lawsuit that may be launched.
Casler filed her first notice of claim against the town in April 2011, but has not yet sued for damages.
Still pending is a separate state Supreme Court Article 78 proceeding that Casler filed in June last year, challenging a Town Board vote from February 2011 that had given All Creatures until June 2011 to halt boarding operations; the shutdown attempt, stemming from permit issues and neighbors’ noise complaints, was put on hold by the Supreme Court proceeding.
"No, we have not received any decision on it yet and things remain status quo right now," Rizzo said of the Supreme Court case.
A decision has been delayed in part by the Town Board’s need to hold a re-hearing and re-vote of its February 2011 action, because a tape of that session was taped over and the town could not provide a transcript for the court proceeding; the do-over was conducted last October.
Casler’s second notice of claim was "based upon the October 2011 rehearing and decision," said Rizzo. The claims are "essentially the same but we needed to preserve our right to legally challenge the most recent decision," he explained.
Lee Supervisor John Urtz said the town is awaiting the "final decision by the court." He had no comment on the second notice of claim and potential lawsuit for damages.
All Creatures opened at Turin Road in 2008, but Lee officials have acknowledged the town issued a business permit in error. Upon reviewing the matter after hearing several noise complaints from nearby residents, the Town Board decided a special-use permit was needed and has voted to disapprove that permit.
Casler, however, has argued that the kennel business was well-established, and has questioned town actions regarding noise issues. Among damage categories in her claim are loss of business investment and revenue, and relocation costs. She has opened a second site at 6572 Williams Road in Rome.