Mechanicville officials have asked Stillwater’s building inspector to step in regarding a property dispute between the city’s building inspector and a local developer.
Brian Rohloff owns property next to Mechanicville Building Inspector Steve Sgambati’s home in the city. Rohloff recently built a small structure made of bricks that runs just inside what he claims is his property near Sgambati’s property line.
The structure runs the length between the two properties and is about 20 inches high at its highest point.
Rohloff said the structure is a retaining wall meant to keep soil and water on his property from running into Sgambati’s property.
Rohloff recently moved the structure approximately 3 feet towards Sgambati’s property line and Sgambati said he believes the structure is now on his property.
“I just moved it to the property line because I can, because the city’s giving me a hard time and I shouldn’t be nice to Steve when he’s going out of his way to give me a roadblock,” Rohloff said.
The Stillwater Town Board passed a resolution at its meeting Thursday night that will authorize Stillwater Building Inspector Ray Abbey to step in and make a determination based on Mechanicville’s city code.
The city will have to pass a similar resolution at a future meeting to make the agreement official.
“Whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do to the best of my ability,” Abbey said.
Based on Abbey’s salary of $52,000 per year, any time that he spends on Mechanicville code issues would be billed to the city at $25 per hour, officials said.
Sgambati said he also wants Abbey to determine if the structure is a retaining wall or a fence.
If the structure is determined to be a fence, it would have to be at least 6 inches away from Sgambati’s property line, according to city code.
“[The city asked Stillwater to step in] because there is a conflict of interest between Steve and Brian Rohloff,” Mechanicville Mayor Anthony Sylvester said. “We want to break that chain and let it run smoother.”
“It’s between him and I on a property line issue,” Sgambati said. “It could have the appearance of not being objective.”
Any future properties that Abbey is asked to step in on will considered on a case-by-case basis, according to both Sylvester and Stillwater Supervisor Shawn Connelly.
“Obviously, we want to work with the other communities around us,” Connelly said. “The agreement is in place so we don’t have to pass a board resolution every time.”
This is only the most recent dispute between Rohloff and the city.
Rohloff said that he believes the city applies a stricter standard to his building projects because he doesn’t live in the city. He has also claimed that some of his properties are assessed at a higher value than other similar city properties.
He owns 16 properties and another 15 vacant lots in the city that he said will remain undeveloped unless his issues with city officials are resolved.
Rohloff said he would like to see Abbey act as building inspector on all of his projects in Mechanicville because he believes Sgambati is unable to be objective due to personal issues between himself and Sgambati.
“He should convey that to the mayor, and let the mayor and the city attorney make a decision,” Sgambati said. “If they feel that way, that’s the way it is. I’m not able to make that decision about being objective or not objective.”
Sgambati said that he will accept whatever decision Abbey makes about the dispute between his and Rohloff’s property.
“Whatever he determines it is, I will be happy with, I will live with it,” he said. “So let’s see how it plays out.”
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