Three tigers and two leopards will remain on Steve Salton’s property on Route 30 for at least another three months.
On Tuesday, town Justice John Papa set Salton’s trial to begin March 18, allowing time for James Doyle, Salton’s attorney, to file motions with the court.
The town Zoning Board of Appeals has issued several cease-and-desist orders against Salton since 2011, ordering him to remove the cats from his property. The orders forced the town to pursue a case against him, and, more than two months ago, a Fulton County judge denied his request to delay removal of the animals.
Salton has continued to refuse to remove the animals.
“Quite frankly, this case has been going on and on and has taken its twists and turns,” Papa said. “Both sides have tried to come to an agreement but have been unsuccessful.”
Both Salton and Doyle declined to comment on the case after appearing in court.
State Supreme Court Judge Richard Aulisi on Oct. 7 rejected Salton’s application for an extension of a cease-and-desist order the town issued several months ago. Aulisi said there wasn’t a satisfactory reason to support the request.
Salton has kept exotic animals on his 11-acre property — in an area zoned residential — since 2005, when he purchased a baby Siberian tiger from a private breeder. He is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The licenses require he exhibit the animals for educational purposes, as opposed to keeping the animals as pets, so Salton shows the animals by appointment.
Neighbors have complained about the potential dangers of the big cats and have said the presence of the animals has affected property values.
Salton applied for an extended stay of the town’s order after Aulisi dismissed his latest lawsuit against the town Zoning Board of Appeals. Town Attorney Carmel Greco said the ruling can’t be enforced because the town does not have a police force, so Salton must remove the exotic cats voluntarily.
In order to enforce compliance with the cease-and-desist order, Greco explained, Salton must be tried in Town Court. Greco said he wanted to resolve the matter out of court but that could not be accomplished.
“I wanted to see the animals removed immediately, per the cease-and-desist order,” Greco said. “We could not come to that agreement.”
Even if Salton is found guilty, he must still remove the animals voluntarily, Greco said.
“We hope that if he is found guilty that the threat of a fine or jail time forces Salton to remove the animals,” Greco said.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County