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Demo of Blacksmith Shop Blocked, for Now

As courtroom observers expected, Erie County Court Judge Michael L. D’Amico has overturned the demolition order on the blacksmith shop located at 118 South Park Avenue.  D’Amico heard arguments on May 4 and released the decision on Wednesday.  The City appealed Buffalo City Court Judge Henry J. Nowak’s authorization of an emergency demolition of the building in August.  Building owner Darryl Carl had wanted to demolish the 19th Century building located in the Cobblestone Historic Preservation District.

Judge D’Amico found that that the Housing Court did not have the jurisdiction to grant an emergency demolition.  Demolition of structures falling within the purview of the City of Buffalo preservation laws are guided by administrative procedures set forth in City Code.  A private individual seeking demolition of a structure must follow those procedures which initially require the filing of application with the Preservation Board.  Preservation Board decisions can be appealed to the Buffalo Common Council.

The Court found:
A careful review of the statute empowering the Housing Court fails to demonstrate any specific authority for the Housing Court to preside over a demolition hearing requested by a private party during the defense of a prosecution for housing code violations.  In the event an emergency situation develops, city enforcement agents, entrusted with the responsibility to protect and promote public safety, are required to institute immediate demolition proceedings.  However, the procedure for a private party requesting demolition of private property in the City of Buffalo is specifically contained in the Buffalo City Charter and Code Chapter 337, requiring the use of the administrative procedure set forth therein.

Accordingly, the order of the court below granting authorization for demolition is hereby reversed.

It is unknown what happens next.  The City can press for immediate repairs of the property in Housing Court while Carr can attempt to make a case the building is unsound and a threat to public safety and seek an emergency demolition of the structure via the process laid out in City Code.  Stay tuned.

Written by Sarah Maurer

Sarah Maurer

I moved to Buffalo to attend Canisius College in 2007 and began writing for Buffalo Rising as a journalism intern in 2010. Working with Newell and meeting numerous entrepreneurs, activists and everyday folks who were working to make their city better made a huge impact on my decision to stay here. After witnessing all the positive development and grassroots initiatives happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, I was inspired to pursue a term of service in AmeriCorps and a career in Buffalo's non-profit sector. I currently work in the housing department at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY and am excited to be a part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. I also volunteer as the project coordinator for Artfarms Buffalo. I continue to write for Buffalo Rising because I love having the opportunity to stay connected to those working toward positive changes for the Queen City.

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