Busti Holding Special Meeting

BUSTI – The town of Busti will hold a special meeting this morning regarding the sale of its current hall.

The meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the current town hall building, 121 Chautauqua Ave. The meeting will include the lawyer for the Jamestown Area Community Federal Credit Union, which has expressed interest in purchasing Busti’s current town hall.

This meeting could allow the credit union to move into the building at 121 Chautauqua Ave. by June 1 if everything works out as planned, said Busti Supervisor Jesse Robbins when reached by phone Sunday.

Cara Birrittieri, spokesperson for Citizens for Better Government, a group of concerned Busti residents, voiced frustration at the early meeting time.

“Why couldn’t they hold it another evening?” she asked. “I feel the town is up to its old tricks again.”

The town in recent months was approached by the credit union, which has an expired lease on its current location. The credit union has offered $300,000 for Busti’s current town hall.

Busti has begun moving its offices into the building next door, which it recently purchased for $330,000 using surplus funds.

While there was support for the sale of the current town hall, voices of dissent rose when it came to the purchase of the new town hall at 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 Samuel Whitmore, owner of Bag and String Wine Merchants, had expressed interest in purchasing the building.

Supporters of the town board’s decision countered by pointing out the move into 125 Chautauqua Ave., the former Tordella’s Surfaces 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.

In March, citizens submitted a referendum to bring the sale of Busti’s current hall to a public vote. The petition collected 222 signatures out of the 148 signatures needed. However, Richard Thor, Busti councilman, brought the petition to court in an action titled “Richard B. Thor vs. Darlene Nygren, as Town Clerk of the Town of Busti, et al.”

Hon. Judge Deborah A. Chimes, Supreme Court judge for the 8th Judicial District, ruled in favor of Thor’s motion in finding the petition for the referendum void, insufficient and not in accordance with the law. Thor’s motion for restraining the submission of a Feb. 12 resolution of the Busti Town Board to the qualified electors of the town for their approval or disapproval was also granted. However, she denied the request to declare the board resolution duly and legally adopted in accordance with the law because there was “insufficient evidence before the court to make such a determination.”

In the decision filed, the court found that there were an adequate number of signatures submitted in support of the petition, and the objections to the petitions and the petition before the court were timely filed. However, the language of the preamble to the petition signature sheets – which states “a town permissive referendum related to the sale of Busti Town Hall … approved for sale by the Busti Town Council, February 12, 2014” – was found to not clearly state that the purpose of the petition was to protest the board’s resolution to sell the property.

Richard Stanton, attorney for Birrittieri – who acted as respondent in the case, said it will be their intention to appeal the decision to the Rochester Appellate Court as soon as it is properly filed. Stanton feels the Busti Town Board is optimistically ambitious if they believe they can get the credit union into the current town hall by June 1 due to complications regarding the State Environment Quality Review and the current appeal.

Stanton also alleges that the town board did not give enough public notice about today’s meeting.