Saturday, January 15, 2011

Zoning and Building Enforcement: More Mistakes?

In the first entry of this blog, we looked at attorney invoices. We saw that the town attorney has admitted mistakes. Valerie Bertram, supervisor, has to date taken no action in response to the problems in attorney billing nor addressed the missing 10,000 in the budget line for attorney fees. The mistakes do not appear to be mistakes.

In the second entry, we considered the assessor's office and found much of the same pattern. Again, the person responsible for this department has admitted mistakes that have serious consequences for the town budget. Again, the supervisor has taken no action. Again, the pattern of behavior on the part of the assessor with the aide of the attorney do not appear to suggest an innocent mistake, or a series of related mistakes.

Now we turn our attention to the zoning enforcement officer / building code enforcement officer Gerry Ennis (Gerald Ennis).

Let's start with a single piece of paper. This one. This is a document generated my Mr. Ennis himself.

Apparently written on July 1, 2010, Mr. Ennis claims he walks by my house 20 to 25 times per month at 5:30 AM in the morning. I spoke to Gerry in April 2010 and he said he had been by my house three times and heard no barking. Immediately after hanging up the phone, I wrote a letter to him, cc-ed to other town officials, that if my understanding of the phone call was incorrect, that he had not stated that he heard no barking the first three tries, he should write back. Following the April call he came one more time that I am sure of and he heard not one bark. The dog control officer also visited the property and heard no barking.

If he didn't hear anything the first five times, he figured he'd try 25 more times. Unless he's lying.

It would be pretty wrong for a public official working for the town government to write a lie down and submit it into official evidence as part of a campaign to close a man's business and ruin his ability to earn a living. In this case however, it might just be worse if he were telling the truth.

Maybe Gerry made a mistake.

And let's consider the hand written notes at the bottom of this same document: "On August 9, after not hearing from Mr. Pflaum @ his fence I issued his 3rd violation notice and revoked his home occ. permit."

A few points: 1) I spent 5,000 on the aforementioned fence and other sound proofing prior to Mr. Ennis beginning his need to get exercise on my driveway at 5:30 in the morning and here is the invoice; 2) I wrote to Mr. Ennis 4 times plus phone calls between the first and second notice of violations, that is I responded; 3) in those letters I offered to show Mr. Ennis 17 letters of support from the neighbors, including every single nearby neighbor, and video and scientific evidence that the barking produced by other neighbors is orders of magnitude louder and more frequent at any reasonable point of consideration than any noise that could be produced by my facility: Mr. Ennis showed no interest in looking at these materials; 4) Mr. Ennis does not have the authority to revoke a permit and the notices of violation also require the option of a jury trial to be valid: this was an unconstitutional act as you can read here.

The charge defies the laws of physics. Here and here. The enforcement defies the law and the constitution. Also, Gerry lied in order to ruin my business.

I built the fence.

I responded: letters on May 17, 2010,  May 11, 2010, May 3, 2010, and April 30, 2010. More phone calls.

He could not have heard barking in excess of a normal residence, even if did come at 5:30 in the morning, because that is impossible.

Here he goes.

And he invented at least one of the "complaints." Here is Gerry tampering with witnesses. You aren't supposed to tell the complaining person what the source of their problem is. Here is the other star witness for the prosecution.

Does anyone think something is fishy going on here? Gerry never issued building permits for as many as 14 residences on the boat club property and yet he has time to come by my house 25 times to listen to dogs that by the laws of physics cannot be loud?

To wit:

• Mr. Ennis did not follow procedure in terms of code enforcement and notice of violation, in that New York Zoning Law and Practice says that the notice of violation should be followed by a citation, which I would be able to contest in town court with a jury trial. Instead of allowing me due process, Mr. Ennis revoked my permit on his own. My due process rights were thus violated.

• Why is the dog control officer not involved?

• All of my near neighbors have written letters of support for my business or told me they would appear on my behalf in the process of fighting Mr. Ennis’s unfair campaign against me. Mr. Ennis did not look at these letters and supporting evidence when I wrote to him. Instead of taking me up on my offer to show him around my property and give him the letters of support and show him the videos I have in my possession, he came on the evening of May 10th at about 7 PM and stood on my porch without knocking on the door. When my wife finally opened the door anyway, when our dog barked, she told him I wasn’t home. He said, “I know” handed her an application to build a fence and left.

Valerie Bertram, supervisor, is fully informed and responded that "Gerry did nothing wrong." Nothing at all.


  1. For the record, Will, (and so you can marshal your resources on more important matters, as you are doing so well)Gerry was not involved as building inspector at the time of the boat club buildings.


  2. Thanks for reading and commenting. I took pictures of ongoing construction this summer. No permits issued for that. That was in July 2010. Thanks for commenting.