SPRINGWATER – The Wrights Road property owners whose land is a public health nuisance could be ordered to pay for a contractor to clean up trash and dead animals that have plagued the plot for over 13 years.
The Livingston County Ways and Means Committee said that they are in favor of an abatement plan that involves the Board of Supervisors seeking a contractor to clean the mess at 6679 Wrights Road on the property owners’ dime. The plan will go to the Board of Supervisors for final approval.
“Our next step is going to be to figure out what it would cost,” said County Administrator Ian Coyle. “I want to put it out there that as far as the County being able to potentially recoup 100 percent of our costs, that might not be possible. But certainly the Human Services Committee agreed, the Public Health Director agrees, the Town Supervisor in question was there to support everything that we can do along with what they are doing as a town to try to alleviate the situation.”
The property is home to livestock and numerous free-ranging animals including feral cats, goats, chickens, many cows and a bull. According to a memorandum to the County’s Human Services Committee from Mark Grove, County Director for Environmental Health, neighbors have complained of loose animals, dead cows and garbage since April 2004.
Since 2004, the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office has investigated 15 reports of loose or dead animals and the Department of Health has investigated eight reports of excessive garbage. The Department of Health has issued three repair orders to date.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) investigated the site and tested local water supplies, particularly a ‘water bed’ that flows towards Dansville. The DEC found that the water bed did not threaten public safety and was compliant with all regulations.
However, Jennifer Rodriguez, Director of Public Health for Livingston County, said that the goal is to get out ahead of a health nuisance before it becomes a health threat.
“We always want to educate the community and prevent threats to public health and safety, and this is one of those cases where there is a real public health nuisance that needs to be abated,” said Rodriguez.
“Some people have flea market items displayed on their lawns, or lots of collectible items or furniture,” said Rodriguez. “That’s not a public health problem. But when you have lots of food, animals and waste sitting on a property for a long period, then there is a public health nuisance and the Department of Health has the authority to call for a hearing and issue a repair order.”
The Department of Health had a hearing with the property owners before the Livingston County Board of Health and issued a joint repair order with the Town of Springwater.
Leicester Town Supervisor David Fanaro said that this decision will set a precedent for how these cases are handled.
“I think whatever decision is made is going to set a precedent for others as well,” said Fanaro. “We have a couple in our town.”