Groton landlord challenges village nuisance law

Editor's Note: This story was written by Ithaca Voice reporter Mike Smith.

Ithaca, NY - A legal battle has been brewing on Main Street in the village of Groton, NY. At the urging of many of its citizens, the village of Groton wants to temporarily close two rental properties owned by landlord Norfe Pirro. Pirro, however, is not going quietly.

As reported by the Cortland Voice, the battle lines were first drawn on a Facebook page, which spawned a meeting where over 100 residents came to urge the village to take action against Pirro.

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Pirro’s properties have come to be seen by Groton residents as a primary source of the village’s recent drug activity and other “public nuisances.” Public nuisances include instances when police are called to a residence, as well as other infractions deemed to adversely affect the village. Under a 2014 law, the village is able to take civil action against property owners who accumulate too many “nuisance points.”

Pirro has filed a counterclaim saying that the village is overstepping its authority and is treating him unfairly. In an affidavit, Pirro claims that he did not receive any notices of infractions until weeks or months after they were reported. He also claims that while the village says he is not doing enough to deal with undesirable tenants, the local court judge has told him that he is filing too many evictions.

Pirro’s affidavit also proclaims: “We are in the middle of ‘silly season,’ when the village is doing everything it can to make me and my tenants look like evil people, and doing absolutely nothing to make Groton a peaceful place to live.”

The statement argues three points:

1- That only the courts, not the mayor, have the right to adjudicate nuisance complaints.

2- That the village does not give property owners enough time or opportunity to challenge the claim.

3- That the law is unfair to the tenants themselves, as minor seemingly infractions can lead to eviction.

Pirro has has not hesitated to let the residents and government of Groton know where he stands. He has been active on the aforementioned Facebook page, debating with and even taunting some residents. Pirro said on the Facebook page:

“This site was created to bash me. Never once did anyone try to reason with me. They lashed out I lashed back. Groton wants to consider me the enemy. Trust me I am not a person you want on your bad side.”

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