November 28, 2021

Planners ask C’ville for review of runoff dispute

A dispute between two Cortlandville businesses over stormwater runoff prompted the Cortlandville Planning Board to recommend Tuesday that the town board hire an independent engineer to review the matter.

The planning board voted unanimously during a special meeting to recommend that the town board issue a request for proposals for an independent engineer to survey stormwater runoff at 1799 Route 13, the site of Fast Lane Auto, owned by John Barden, a.k.a. John the Diesel Man, to determine if that runoff is coming from next-door business Economy Paving, owned by Stephen Compagni. Barden has alleged for years that Compagni made significant changes to his property without proper town approvals, resulting in stormwater running onto his property as well as Route 13.

The town planning board in 2017 revoked Economy Paving’s site plan approval permit. The board said the company had widened the driveway leading into its property and changed landscaping without proper permits, leading to increased runoff.

However, the planning board chose this week to hire an independent engineer after receiving two conflicting engineering reports — one prepared on behalf of Barden, the other on behalf of Compagni.

Compagni, however, denied a request from the planning board to give an independent engineer access to his property.

Board member Nicholas Renzi noted the request for proposals might not receive any bids because engineers might say they would not be able to prepare a report without access to Compagni’s property. If no bids are received, the matter would be passed back to the planning board once again for reconsideration.

The planning board called the special meeting Tuesday after the matter was sent there following an agreement reached in Cortland County Court between the District Attorney’s Office and Economy Paving, said Town Attorney John DelVecchio.

The DA was involved because DelVecchio recused himself since he was on the planning board in 2017.

The agreement entailed Economy Paving going back to the planning board to present its case that its site plan approval should be reinstated; at the same time, the town agreed to refrain from taking enforcement action until the matter is resolved, DelVecchio said.

Neither Barden nor Compagni was happy with the planning board’s decision.

Barden wrote in an email that Economy Paving “has been allowed to violate the conditions of their site plan and the conditions of their conditional permit for years all while continuing to damage my property,” adding that “Cortlandville has failed to protect my property rights.”

Attorney Rome Canzano, speaking on behalf of Compagni, said his client was disappointed that the planning board did not end the matter Tuesday, adding “The costs of this witch hunt have expanded exponentially.”

He said Economy Paving was in compliance with its site plan and characterized Barden’s complaint as “the sole effort of a disgruntled neighbor.”