Wednesday, September 28, 2011

too big?

So, the basic argument is that 75 dogs is too many and I should be zoned commercial. My response: first of all, I only have that many maybe 10 days a year and don't really want that many. I offered to settle on  a lower number. The town attorney AGREED with my settlement offer. However, he did not agree because he accepted our offer but because he want to set a trap and get me before the planning board to ambush me.

In other words, bad faith negotiations. I offered to settle. The town attorney, Tal Rappleyea, engaged in bad faith negotiations and conspiracy to defraud. Now, the ZBA says I should go back to the planning board? Do you think I can realistically do that? If the planning board were a reasonable place, why did they not agree to my terms? Why didn't the planning board accept my settlement terms when their own attorney agreed to them?

To limit my operation to 1500 sf for no reason is tantamount to changing my business into a different business. If you told a restaurant that already was approved with a big kitchen that no, they have to be a lunch counter with only cold sandwiches, that would be to force them into a new business.

I already have a big space. My customers want a big space. That is the whole point of the operation. If you say I have to be in a small space, then you are taking away the kitchen of the restaurant after they already bought $25,000 in equipment, have been operating legally with no complaints for years, and have not violated any rules.

You're talking to a guy from Matamoros, Mexico and he says how terrible these drug gangs are, running the town. And then you say, why don't you file a complaint with the police? And he starts rolling on the floor laughing. File a complaint with the police! Ha! Ha!  Ha! Ha! They are the drug gang!

David R. Everett of Whiteman Osterman and Hanna is simply saying I should go back to the planning board and re-file my site plan review, everything will be fine. Back to the planning board! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! 

so here's what happen

Ambush. Here is the Register Star article. Not bad. But they missed a big point: reclassification to commercial is a death sentance.

Dog barking: that was what I was there to appeal: a dog bark charge. It wasn't true. Obviously: they didn't vote to sustain that charge.

How is that they re-zoned me for entirely different reasons without telling what the reasons are and letting me have a chance to answer the new charge?

In August 2010, I was charged with producing "unusual noise .... that exceeds that which is produced by a normal residence." I appealed to the ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS, ZBA. I proved I was totally innocent.

In July 2011, the board expanded the scope of the hearing beyond my appeal and issued a new list of charges. I was not guilt of any those charges either.

At the last minute, the board voted to ruin me and close my business. The resolution they passed would force me to keep all my dogs inside at all times. That won't work. It's bull.

The board voted to ruin me on the basis of reasons that I NEVER SAW before the hearing last night. They claim the Planning Board screwed up in 2009 and never should have issued the permit I have in the first place.

To make that argument they cite a lot of stuff that happened after 2009. But how would the planning board have known what would happen in the future? And where does it say that the ZBA can overrule the planning board?

Also, shouldn't they have told me what the charge was before they voted on it? There is A LOT OF FALSE information in this resolution they just passed.

Also to come: Melissa Naegeli claims that Patty Yerrick submitted the packet of materials relating to protected free speech. That may be but there is no way that Patty Yerick wrote the handwritten note that accompanies the packet.

The handwriting doesn't match.

The more substantial issue is the note. Who wrote it? Melissa Naegeli says its not a member of the board. Or did she only mean the photocopies? Reliable sources close to Melisssa Naegeli, clerk for the town of Stuyvesant, claim she says she did not write the note herself.

I'm just confused. A legitimate question: who wrote it?

we lost

Basically, the ZBA ruled, following David R. Everett of Whiteman Osterman and Hanna, that the planning board screwed up in 2009 and gave me the wrong permit. So therefore they get to close my business down. Makes no sense.

It's a nonsense.

I have no idea what I'm accused of having done wrong. Yet I'm already convicted.

Thank you to the many people who came out. We are touched.

Monday, September 26, 2011

we're going to loose tomorrow but do come out

Here is the town clerk talking about who put that packet in the board materials about songs and books they don't like. She knows who did it but is protecting her identity. What is the public interest in allowing anonymous personal attacks into the public record, as facilitated and protected by the town clerk?

After a year and half struggle, the fix is in and we're going to likely loose tomorrow night.

We are fighting to keep our business open and pay our mortgage and payroll for our great employees. We run a great business, a country getaway for city dogs and there are no problems with our operation. The process couldn't be more unfair. 

We want people to come. We don't want this to happen quietly. It's an injustice.

Tuesday, September 27
7 PM Stuyvesant Town Hall
5 Sunset Drive Stuyvesant, NY 12173

Friday, September 23, 2011

does the town of stuyvesant understand the first amendment? how about capitalism?

Attorneys and Counselors at Law
September 23, 2011

Zoning Board of Appeals
Attn: William Vick, Chairperson
C/o Shirley Narzynski, Secretary to the Board
Stuyvesant Town Hall
5 Sunset Drive
Stuyvesant, New York 12173                  First Class and E-Mail

Re: Will Pflaum (Glencadia Dog Camp)
Zoning Board Meeting Date: September 27, 2011 @ 7:00 P.M.

Dear Chairperson Vick and Zoning Board Members:

     Please be advised that my client has received via FOIL, a copy of an undated handwritten memo, which evidences a personal attack on his character; a copy of the memo is attached hereto. Most troubling is the fact that my client has been advised that this Memo was written and circulated by a Board Member.  The memo evidences a state of mind that the author would not be able to make an impartial decision, free from bias; if issued by a Member, that Member must be recused (see New York Zoning Law and Practice, Salkin, Fourth Ed., Vol. 2, Ethical Considerations §31.09, p. 31-29, citing Op. (Inf.) Atty. Gen. 93-6 (1993)). I note that any personal objection to a different genre of music/poetry is irrelevant to the zoning issues at hand.  Moreover, my client’s music and poetry is simply free speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Kindly make this submission a part of the record of the within proceeding. I remain,    
                              Very Truly Yours                                      
                              LYNCH & HETMAN, PLLC

Cc  Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, LLP
    Attn: David R. Everett, Esq. via e-mail

    Will Pflaum via e-mail

Gerry Ennis Zoning Control Officer of the Town of Stuyvesant from glencadia on Vimeo.

Money = lie.
I thought I said enough about art here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hearing 15 next week


Next week we will have our 15th hearing in Stuyvesant Town Hall. This should really be the last one here in town. No matter what happens, this battle moves to state (and/or federal court) or stops.

Tuesday, September 27
 7 PM Stuyvesant Town Hall
5 Sunset Drive
Stuyvesant, NY 12173 

Outline of case here.

Thanks for coming out again and again to all the people who have. I think it makes a big difference to have people there in the room, to our family. You coming also makes a difference to the idea of the rule of law, importance of constitutional protection for all. That's why we're asking folks to come out one more time. (Federal Court might be the next time, but who know when or if that will happen.)

Crooked, absurd, and wacky in one place, a hearing in Stuyvesant, all for the reasonable price of zippo. Dog shirts on, if you'd like, like this.

Glencadia Dog Camp is a small family business offering country vacations for New York City dogs in an agricultural district of Columbia County New York, operating since 2005, with a unanimous permit from the town planning board and no trouble or complaint until weeks after the 2009 election.

For almost two years, town of Stuyvesant has been looking for ways to close the business and/or lock up the owner, me, Will Pflaum. The town has thrown everything they have at me: criminal court, zoning, planning, and hired the biggest law firm in Albany, spending well over $70,000 to find a way to close the business.


Dog barking bothering the neighbors? Nope. The charge of loud (or even sometimes audible) barking has been shown to be impossible in a study verified by the editor of the leading peer reviewed acoustics journal in the world and a whole posse of PhD scientists. Or, if you don't believe them, you can just look at the place. We're more than 1000 feet from any neighbors of the road. That can't be the problem. This charge is pure voodoo.

Too many jobs for zoning rules? No, contractors are not covered by the zoning rules. A technical issue, that the house and barn were on separate lots due to a planning board mistake? I fixed that at the county clerk. Fence not a structure? No, just read the zoning rules. Neighbors complaining? Nope: we submitted 47 letters of support and 100s of pro-dog petitions on signatures including from all the nearby neighbors and farmers who work the field around the dog camp.

The zoning officer for the town complains a lot, but mostly about my blog, reporting on criminal activity by his friends and himself. That is, he complains when he is not stalking my house at 5:30 in the morning or the middle of the night.

All the charges against me are trivial, impossible, false or just plain stupid, pursued at such great expense and involving the town board, planning board, zoning board, criminal court, zoning officer, and a big law firm all working together to reduce the county and town tax rolls and increase unemployment. There is no public interest in this matter. It's a witch-hunt. Imaginary charges, imaginary evidence and imaginary laws.

Why? After 15 hearings and $70,000 (on the town side: I spent more) if I did something wrong, it should fairly obvious what I did. So, what am I accused of? Anyone know? I don't.

The town is in open and clear violation of public officers law, hiring Whiteman Osterman and Hanna in an illegal executive session. Yet, I have to answer charge after charge, all false and malicious. In fact, officers in the town government are guilty of fraud, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, perjury and other crimes. I wrote all that up on my blog.

 Serious charged. Prove it? I would love to. Call the DA and tell her no one is above the law and she should give me appointment to hear me out, even if the accusations are against her friends and associates.

Do you think my reporting on the criminal activity of the town may be related to the absurdity of this process? That's what I will be arguing in Federal Court: my efforts to bring accountability in government provoked the corrupt town of Stuyvesant to lock arms and try to repress my rights to free speech, due process, equal protection, and confiscate my property.

And it didn't work.

The town of Stuyvesant is lawless. Don't take my word for it. Come to the hearing and see for yourself.

Stop corruption.

 Thanks, Will Pflaum

too big, ugly, depressing and expensive

To the editor:

 The Board of Supervisors have balked at committing to a $16 million project to buy and renovate the abandoned Walmart on Fairview Ave in the Town of Greenport. As well they might! They have been struggling among a bunch of bad choices for years.

Now, the sweetheart lease ( $30,000 per month rent! ) at 25 Railroad Ave is finally ending and better choices could be made. Why should the County embark on a $16 million project at Walmart that provides not one dime of services to needy people in our County? They shouldn't.

This $16 million will go to a real estate deal and a renovation project of a too big, ugly, depressing and expensive building and it will still be a too big, ugly, depressing and expensive building, with, maybe, a 20 year shelf-life if the roof is replaced. In fact, Walmart is so big that it's actually too big for DSS! The next desperate proposal was to make use of ALL this space, under one leaky roof, and drain some 24 County programs from Hudson--- Aging to Vets--- out to Walmart. Ideas were invented for more storage, garages, lunchrooms, fitness areas and three additional not-for-profits to be named later (in their dreams).

This was not exactly a welcome idea to Hudson City leadership.

Next, the pricetag for all these moves starts nudging $24 million according to Hudson Supervisor Bill Hughes. We haven't even started to figure in ongoing yearly expenses for heat, utilities, etc. for all this unneeded space. We haven't even started figuring the economic toll of the abandoned office space in Hudson. Time to think outside the Big Box!

This is the 21st Century. This is the era of laptops, fax machines, cell-phones, smart-phones and iPads. If the issue is really only space for DSS, let's put service providers out in the community where people live. There are plenty of existing models for home delivered services. I worked in DSS's Teen Parent Program which was such a model. Once a month I handed in bills and reports and met with a supervisor. Otherwise, I was out in the field with moms and babies, connecting them with housing, health clinics, daycare, parenting education, GED, shopping and jobs. I wasn't stuck in a cubicle pushing paper while stressed people with cranky children waited in line in a big, ugly, depressing , expensive building. Paperwork can be digitized and done from home, clients without computers can access the web at their school or library, supervisors can meet with caseworkers in various community centers and Town Halls around the County, staff training can be held at Columbia Greene Community College or provider agencies, auditors and billing staff can be tucked in with other agency billing offices. Caseworkers can hit the street and become real community workers. Let's spend our dwindling tax dollars getting important services to the needy and creating jobs in our community not on another Big Box.

 Sincerely, Lee Jamison

Thursday, September 15, 2011

letter from an observer

Dear Ms. Yerick, the complaining neighbor.

I recently had the opportunity to watch the video of you accusing William Pflaum, owner of Glencadia Dog Camp of your being able to see his farm from the window in your home. However, when he asked you to provide a picture of that, you refused to do so. I know the reason you refused to do so. You would have incriminated yourself...

In other words you were lying. I have personally driven by your home and the Dog Camp and there is no way that with the trees where they are on your property and where any of those windows on the north side of your home are that you would be able to see the Dog Camp. In order to see his home with the kennels you would have had to have gone outside and used a pair of binoculars to see the intimate details of his business. Also, the long driveway leading to his residence is so far that it would be totally impossible for you to hear anything unless you were to hook up a system that would transmit the noise from his business to your house similar to a baby monitor....

…It is beyond me that a community would want to run out a business that will provide jobs for others in this horrendous economic condition the United States is in...

Thus, I agree with Mr. Pflaum, he should have every right to run a Dog Camp if he wishes. As previously stated, we are supposedly guaranteed the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Preamble specifically states that we have the right of free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, etc.


Marlin J. Spellman

Saturday, September 10, 2011

letter from the lawyer

Albany, New York 12207

September 7, 2011

Zoning Board of Appeals
Attn: William Vick, Chairperson
C/o Shirley Narzynski, Secretary to the Board
Stuyvesant Town Hall
5 Sunset Drive
Stuyvesant, New York 12173 First Class and E-Mail

Re: Will Pflaum (Glencadia Dog Camp)
Zoning Board Meeting Date: September 27, 2011 @ 7:00 P.M.

Dear Chairperson Vick and Zoning Board Members:

I write this letter to address several issues raised at the August 23, 2011 meeting, as ask that this submission be made a part of the record of this proceeding.

At the August 23, 2011 Meeting, Chairperson Vick questioned whether the barn could be used as a Home Occupation 2, due to the fact that the barn exists on a separate lot pursuant to a two-lot subdivision previously approved by the Board. As more fully appears in my letter of even date to the Planning Board, copy submitted herewith, my clients have filed a deed in the Columbia County Clerk’s Office to merge the two Lots that they own into a single Tax Map Lot. Thus, they have abandoned the prior two-Lot subdivision. Accordingly, the Barn and the House now exist on the same Lot as required by the Zoning Ordinance (see Ordinance page 27, Home-Occupation-Class 2, paragraph 1).

As you know, the Chairman raised an issue of whether allowing the dogs to go into the fenced area around the barn was an activity “within the…on-lot accessory structure” as required by the Ordinance (see Ordinance page 27, Home-Occupation-Class 2, paragraph 1). By Ordinance definition, “structures” include “fences over four (4) feet in height” (see Ordinance, page 12). Here, it is manifest that the fence creating the yard adjoining the barn exceeds four (4’) feet in height and constitutes part of the on-lot accessory structure that is used to house the dogs, all in accord with the requirements of a Home Occupation-Class 2.

I note that there are other Home Occupation 2 uses within the Town that use an accessory building, and the area around the building as part of the Home Occupation 2 business operation. By way of example, kindly consider the operation of the auto repair business of Dennis and Shirley Narzynski, 3741 Route 21, Schodack Landing, New York as a Home Occupation–Class 2. For your reference, I have enclosed an aerial photo of the repair business, depicting the on site garage and parking areas accessory to the garage, together with the Planning Board Minutes dated 10/17/02, in which the Board granted approval of the auto repair shop as a “Home Occupation-Class 2”. I have also attached the Zoning Board of Appeals Minutes dated 1/10/04, 4/27/04, 6/22/04, and 3/27/07, in which the Zoning Board ratified the use of the auto repair shop as a Home Occupation-Class 2, and granted a sign variance for the shop. Clearly, such precedent establishes that use of the immediate area around the accessory structure falls within the parameters of a Home Occupation- Class 2.

I note that Chairperson Vick also questioned whether the Glencadia Dog camp constituted a commercial business, which should limited to a commercial zone, and not allowed in the subject Zone as a Home Occupation 2. It is manifest that the Dog Camp is a far softer use of the premises than an auto repair shop. It would certainly be arbitrary and capricious to find that an auto repair shop exists as a Home Occupation-Class 2, and that a dog kennel is a commercial business that is not allowed as a Home Occupation-Class 2. Submitted please find an additional copy of the January 27, 2009 letter from the ZEO, stating, “The fact that the business [i.e. the kennel] is housed in your barn makes it become classified as a HOME OCCUPATION-CLASS 2”. I note that the Planning Board has already determined that the Dog Camp constitutes a Home Occupation – Class 2, and the Zoning Board does not have appellate jurisdiction over the Planning Board’s determination. Last, the premises is insured as a farm and I have enclosed the Insurance receipt for the Board’s information. I remain,

Very Truly Yours

Peter A. Lynch

Cc Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, LLP
Attn: David R. Everett, Esq. via e-mail

Will Pflaum via e-mail

Monday, September 5, 2011

points from the county fair

We, me and my volunteers, spent 6 days at the Columbia County Fair talking about accountability and fairness in government. Here are some lessons and updates from that experience:

1) I have written a few new pieces for the blog since breaking the anti-corruption booth down. Here is my article about how corruption could be addressed if the political will existed. Here is a list of things on the blog for people who have not been following my case up until now.

2) It was great to talk to people. Thank you to everyone who stopped to chat a bit. Thank you to the hundreds of you who stopped to sign a petition or leave your email for the mailing list. Thank you to the 800 of you who took a flyer. Thank you to the hundreds that came back to check out the blog. I guess more people know what that white dog on a red sign means now.

3) Thank you to all the volunteers who took a shift in the booth. No way I could have covered 6 days by myself. And you guys were more effective at getting signatures than me anyway. Kind of better to have someone else tell the story.

4) I met a lot of interesting people. For example, I found out about this case: Here is an article on a recent and somewhat similar case in the same federal court where I filed my suit.

This suit in Troy was much cleaner and simpler than mine. Similar in the free speech issues, the abuse of zoning authority to squelch speech. Dissimilar in that I argue that I was targeted for reporting criminal activity in town government, activity which is ongoing and unpunished. Mine is not simply a free speech issue. I also want the court to do something about the the underlying problem of illegal activity and make it possible for this stuff to be punished in the future.

Also, you will note, the art center won a judgement against the city even though the center DID IN FACT have the wrong doors, swinging in, not out. In my case, there is no similar problem.

Again, they did have a zoning problem. They still won. I have no zoning problem. I think I should win too, more clearly than in the case cited above.

5) We ran out of large and extra large shirts. I should have known!

6) I heard a lot of stories about corruption in the county. Not too many people were shocked to hear the county is not being run in the public interest.

7) I was right next to the Republican table and yet only one elected official stopped by to hear what I had to say. Hundreds of other people heard me out. One did listen: Holly Tanner. She's a professional. She listened. Thank you. And Eugene Keller, candidate for District Attorney, he's got my vote. I know one's a Republican and one's a Democrat but I like both of them and not too many others so far.

I'm non-partisan. I want good government and don't see either party doing much to stop corruption. Step up, folks.

That'll have to do it for now. Thank you again for stopping by to hear me out and read my blog. If India can have an anti-corruption movement, so can New York. Thanks again.