Busti Permissive Referendum Up For Court Action

BUSTI- A referendum concerning the Busti Town Hall is up in the air.

Richard Thor, Busti councilman, filed an action against Darlene Nygren, Busti town clerk, to find the permissive referendum on the sale of the Busti Town Hall at 121 Chautauqua Ave. void and insufficient under Section 91 of New York’s Town Law.

On March 11, Cara Birrittieri, of Lakewood, and Samuel Whitmore, owner of Bag and Strings Wine Merchants, presented more than 200 signatures collected over the course of a month to Nygren. The referendum is a result of Busti’s proposed sale of its current town hall and purchase of the former Tordella’s building at 125 Chautauqua Ave. The town in recent months was approached by the Jamestown Area Community Federal Credit Union, which has an expired lease on its current location. The credit union has offered $300,000 for Busti’s current town hall. Due to their expired lease, the credit union is under some urgency to move, and the offer is not open-ended.

While there was support for the sale of the current town hall, voices of dissent rose when it came to the purchase of 125 Chautauqua Ave.

The more popular arguments revolved around the potential for Busti to move into Lakewood’s Anthony C. Caprino Municipal Building and outcry over taking another building off the tax roll just as one was put back on – especially when Whitmore had expressed interest in purchasing the building.

Supporters of the town board’s decision countered by pointing out the move into Tordella’s building was the most cost-effective option and saying that the town shouldn’t put money into a building it doesn’t own – especially when the village hall is not handicap-accessible.

Due to legal matters, the public referendum cannot be on the purchase of the Tordella’s, but is allowed on the sale – on which the purchase is contingent. Acting upon this, those who are against Busti’s decision had 30 days to collect 150 signatures to force a special election. However, it should be noted, Busti has the ability to close the contingency in the contract of the purchase at 125 Chautauqua Ave.

Jesse Robbins, Busti supervisor, explained that after a referendum has been filed, the town has five days to look and see if it is valid. If the town feels like the referendum is invalid, it is brought to the court for a judge to decide. He was unsure about the exact reasons for the town bringing the referendum to court.

Nygren and Joel Seachrist, town attorney, declined to comment Tuesday. Thor could not be reached.

Rudy Mueller, former Chautauqua County legislator, said the public should have a right to vote on the sale of public property. Samuel Whitmore, owner of Bag and String Merchants, declined comment.

Those who have an interest in the petition can be heard at the oral arguments for the motion on Monday at 11 a.m. in the Supreme Court of the County Courthouse in Mayville. Any and all papers in opposition to the motion shall be received by the court and opposing council by Thursday at noon.