Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Special Prosecutor Looking for Something to Prosecute

Special Prosecutor David R. Everett of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna Threatens to Sue Holly Tanner. 

1) What is the public interest in whether my barn and house are on two or one lots? Why is Stuyvesant still spending money on something this unimportant? In other words, big deal. The town paid Everett probably $1000 to write that crazy letter. A thousand bucks is a big deal in a small town. And that $1000 is on top of $100,000 spent on Everett in 2011. 

2) When does Mr. Everett stop being Special Prosecutor? Does he get to go out looking for things to prosecute in order to keep the gravy train rolling? Accusing me of stuff I didn't do has been pretty profitably for Everett to date. Why should he stop?

3) Divide means to cut up. If you mash two together, you are not dividing, you are merging. Read the Stuyvesant Zoning Ordinance or the application for a subdivision online: do you see anything about putting two parcels together to make one lot? Divide: read town law. It means to make more. I made fewer.

4) How can Everett sue me for filing paperwork? Why did he send the letter to Holly Tanner? I don't see a suit against me here. For what? I didn't merge two lots together: I can't. Everett must want to sue Holly Tanner.

I've dealt with Everett for 9 months now as Special Prosecutor and I don't wish that on Holly Tanner. She doesn't deserve it.

Everett asked me to put the lots back together. Here is the letter (page 4).

David R. Everett of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna asked me to merge the lots back together!!! When I did what he said, he threw a hissy fit!!!! 

Here is my review of what happened:

On September 6, 2011 Holly Tanner's professional, well run County Clerk's office received a routine application to unify two lots. The application asked to put a house and a barn on the same deed into a single listing for tax purposes. The man filing the paperwork was me. The barn and the house were on the same lot a few years ago.

Now, more than two months later, Dave Everett, working as the Special Prosecutor for the town of Stuyvesant, has written a letter threatening to sue Holly Tanner (I guess) for accepting paperwork and filing it according to the law. 

Why? Everett says that you need Planning Board approval to put lots together. My attorney thinks that you do not need Planning Board approval to put lots together when they are on the same deed. According to my attorney and our title company, you only need approval by the town Planning Board to split lots apart. 

In passing, Everett accuses me and my attorney of some kind of crime, as if it were obvious that you need Planning Board approval and that we knowingly lied when, in fact, it's not even true and certainly not obvious. It's hardly a crime... What a crazy thing to say. 

We didn't lie. I would file the same form again right now. I'm right. Even if I were wrong, it wouldn't be a crime, but even less so when I'm right. 

Stuyvesant's Special Mr. Wrong

We did not and do not need Planning Board approval to merge two lots on the same deed back into one listing. Everett is wrong again.

Being wrong is nothing new to Dave Everett.

Everett sent me a bill to pay for the town engineer to review my sound study. I didn't pay it. I didn't have to. If he wasn't wrong about that, why did he drop it and stop sending me invoices?

Everett was wrong on invoices.

Everett was the attorney when the Planning Board issued a positive declaration on SEQR (environmental review) of the lot merger. Even he had to admit the declaration was deficient. The declaration was withdrawn.

Everettt was wrong on SEQR.

The town board hired Everett and Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna in executive session. That was against the law and WOH and Everett didn't notice that the town broke the law. They do not deny they broke the law in their motions to dismissed filed in state court. 

Everett was wrong on Public Officers Law.

Three times wrong. Now the lots issue: number four for Everett. Stuyvesant has paid him $100,000 to be wrong, wrong, wrong and now wrong again.

Subdividing means making one lot into two (division). Making two lots into one lot is not dividing but unifying or merging. You need approval to subdivide. You don't need Planning Board approval to unify, especially when the two lots are on the same deed.

"I subdivided two lots and now I have one." Doesn't even make sense. That's not what dividing means. 

In Everett's letter, he cites a portion of Town Law Section 276 (4) (a) to support his claim. Interestingly, he left out the first sentence of Town Law Section 276 (4) (a), which provides: " 'Subdivision' means the division of any parcel of land into a number of lots, blocks or sites as specified in a local ordinance, law, rule or regulation, with or without streets or highways, for the purpose of sale, transfer of ownership, or development."

1) The word "division" is defined as "act or process of dividing" (see Websters Dictionary). Subdivision also contemplates the creation of lots (i.e. in the plural) not merger into a single lot. Clearly, the instant merger deed does not constitute a "subdivision" within the meaning of Town Law Section 276 (4) (a).

2) Also, look at  Town Law Section 276 (4) (a): "...for the purpose of sale, transfer of ownership, or development..."

Putting two back into one does not lead to sale, transfer or development but precludes those options on each parcel without the other, making all of those things harder. And I did not do any of those things: no sale, no transfer, no development.

3) And then there is "as specified in a local ordinance, law, rule or regulation" -- and the laws in the town of Stuyvesant are silent on the issue of putting lots back together.

So there are three legal flaws in Everett's crazy argument.

Everett is Threatening Holly Tanner

Everett's letter, cc-ed to Holly Tanner, dated December 20, 2011, reads, "I am writing to advise you that the merger of the two lots without Planning Board approval violates the Town's Subdivision Regulations and the Town reserves all of its rights to enforce the Subdivision Regulations." As Everett's letter notes, Holly Tanner's office merged the lots in question. There is no way to read this other than as a threat to sue Holly Tanner.

If the threatened suit is against me, why did Everett send it to Holly Tanner?

Of course, Everett was the guy who told me to put the lots back together. Then, when I did exactly what he asked, he threatens to sue the county?

Everett blew a hole in the budget of Stuyvesant, causing an 18.8% tax increase through his endless persecution of a small, family business. Everett has already duped the town board of Stuyvesant out $100,000. Now he wants to drag the county into his absurd vendetta and suck yet more money out of the taxpayers. 

Here are additional points:

No elected official in Columbia County is more highly regarded by Democrats and Republicans than Holly Tanner. If Holly Tanner isn't above Everett's threats, no one is safe from this Special Prosecutor out to generate more work for himself. 

Holly Tanner is a professional. Dave Everett comes along and says she screwed up? Nonsense. Holly Tanner, my attorney, the title company and I all agree: Everett is wrong. 

I don't see what the big deal is. I filed some papers to put my barn and my house back on to one lot or parcel. Why should any one care? Why would the town of Stuyvesant sue the county to stop that? It's nuts.

Everett has already taken a wrecking ball to Stuyvesant, now left with almost no reserve fund, in the middle of two lawsuits, increasing taxes by 18.8% this year and the bleeding of funds has not stopped. Indeed, if Everett has his way, the bleeding will never stop. 

Will the taxpayers of Stuyvesant ever wake up? Do the rest of the taxpayers in Columbia County want to be dragged into Everett's dog fight and see their budgets blow up too?

When does Everett's term as Special Prosecutor expire?

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