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Village considers Newberry's options


4/15/2009
By Jim Poole

Cobleskill village leaders are considering what to do after suffering a reversal in court that allows the plywood in Newberry’s windows to stay put.
Options include filing more charges, doing nothing or simply trying to convince Newberry’s owner Harry Ioannou to replace the plywood with glass.
Schoharie County Judge George Bartlett last month overturned Mr. Ioannou’s conviction on violating the state building code for failing to maintain the windows properly.
Mr. Ioannou had been convicted in village court in August and fined $20,000. After Mr. Ioannou successfully appealed, now there’s no conviction and no fine.
The prospects of having the plywood remain in three large windows facing Main Street irks village officials, who have complained about the site since last March, when the glass broke and Mr. Ioannou put up the plywood.
“We don’t care about the fine. We just want the windows fixed,” said Deputy Mayor Sandy MacKay. “I’d be willing to forget the whole thing if he just fixed the windows.”
Complicating Cobleskill’s position is that the current village attorney, Ed Wildove, was Mr. Ioannou’s attorney for the case in August. Therefore, Mr. Wildove can’t represent the village if the case goes to court again.
“We’re caught in an awful position,” Mr. MacKay said. “We can’t even have Ed review the files or sit in on an executive session when we talk about the case.”
Proceeding with the case means Cobleskill would have to hire another lawyer.
The village does have avenues to pursue. Code Enforcement Officer Mike Piccolo cited Mr. Ioannou under state building code, but the plywood windows may be prohibited under Cobleskill’s property maintenance law and Historic District codes.
“There are other possible mechanisms,” Mr. MacKay said. “We could file something else under one of the other provisions. I don’t know.”
Sandy Poole chairs the Historic District Review Commission, which acts on proposals for outside changes to buildings in the historic district. She believes the village should proceed with the case.
“You’re looking for people to maintain their properties, and that’s the biggest eyesore,” Ms. Poole said.
“You can’t just leave it like that and wait for someone to buy it. That building is so important to downtown and it still could be.”
Can the village appeal Judge Bartlett’s decision?
“That’s a question for a lawyer,” Mr. MacKay said. “I would assume yes, we could, but I’m not a lawyer.
“I don’t know what to do. We’ll have to decide.”



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