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Mayville Granted Authority To Secure Derelict Property

Mayville residents – and the village’s code officer – have long taken issue with a home located at 199 Sea Lion Drive, Mayville.

State Supreme Court Justice Grace Hanlon now agrees that something has to be done with the property.

Village officials filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in late December citing 21 separate violations of village code for property maintenance, with many of the violations existing for years despite numerous citations from both the village and the town of Chautauqua. The property was condemned in 2021.

Mayville officials’ lawsuit asked Hanlon to require Ellen Shepherd, a Warren resident and owner of the property, to stop illegal use of the home by keeping anyone from using it; to direct Shepherd to correct the code violations and to secure the property so further nuisance issues are prevented; or, if the code violations aren’t corrected within 30 days to give the village legal permission to demolish the property.

Shepherd’s failure to appear at a recent court hearing prompted Hanlon to side with the village in part by allowing Mayville officials to take action – though demolition is not yet one of the village’s options.

“It is hereby ordered that the defendant is in default,” Hanlon wrote in her June 10 order. “It is further ordered that the plaintiff be allowed to enter onto the premises of the defendant, known as 199 Sea Lion Drive, Mayville, … for the purposes of securing the property by boarding it and taking whatever actions necessary to make the property safe and bait the current nuisance.”

Frank Watson, Chautauqua and Mayville code officer, sent a letter to Shepherd in July 2023 stating he had received complaints from neighbors about the property that included concerns the cabin was unsafe, unsecured and had numerous pests. That letter states the structure was open at all window and door areas, the interior had exposed framings with several areas described as damaged and defective. The crawl space floor area was exposed and Watson said the structural integrity of the building was questionable in several areas. Watson also noted that there was evidence of pest entry and activity throughout the home while exterior property landscape was overgrown and not maintained adequately on the day of his inspection.

Shepherd’s response, filed June 6, asks Hanlon to dismiss the case with prejudice. She also asks the judge to require Mayville to reimburse her for out-of-pocket costs and the costs of increased construction caused by what Shepherd said is unnecessary obstruction by the village.

She also took issue with Code Enforcement Officer Frank Watson’s work, saying the notices of code violations aren’t specific enough and also saying an engineering firm hired by Shepherd found the violations cited by Watson aren’t valid. Shepherd’s answer to the village’s lawsuit lays blame at village officials for denial of several applications for a building permit while arguing the village has overstated the number of times the property has been cited for code violations. She also argues there is no proof of rodent infestations.

“The plaintiff has provided no evidence whatsoever of rats and other rodents,” Shepherd’s reply states. “This cause for action is mere speculation on the plaintiff’s part. However, this concern can readily be obviated by the plaintiff’s fulfilling its duties to issue the necessary building permits.”

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