Court says Duffy’s claim against town filed too late


Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

Christine Duffy filed an Article 78 against the town of Guilderland for allowing her neighbors to expand their Fletcher Road driveway, which she claimed blocked her line of sight out of her own driveway. Duffy’s driveway is in the foreground of this photo; a black trailer and a white car sit in the driveway that she said blocked her line of sight.

GUILDERLAND — The New York State Supreme Court upheld its decision to dismiss a claim filed by Christine Duffy, of Westmere, against the town of Guilderland over her then-neighbor’s 2015 driveway expansion.

The court determined that Duffy had waited too long to file the Article 78 proceeding, passing the statute of limitations. Such proceedings are typically brought by citizens questioning government decisions. The State Supreme Court is the lowest level in New York’s three-tiered court system.

Although the appeal focused on whether the Article 78 was timely, Duffy’s focus, when asked by The Enterprise this week to describe her feelings about the decision, was on the town’s decision to not require a permit for her neighbors’ expansion.

“The Article 78 was decided upon a lie ...,” Duffy told The Enterprise in an email. “I have the depositions of [my neighbors] James and Kellie Baldwin where they testified that they never obtained nor sought a permit hence, no permission was given.”

The Baldwins had received approval to expand their driveway from then-Highway Superintendent Steven Oliver before they excavated and paved the front 20 yards of their property on Fletcher Road, resulting in a parking setup that Duffy claims blocked her line of sight from her own driveway and damaged the character of the neighborhood. 

Because the expansion did not require modification of the curb, no driveway permit was required.

Duffy and the Baldwins lived then on Fletcher Road, where driveway expansions are frequent because the homes were built when families typically owned only one vehicle, opposed to the two to four vehicles owned by modern families. 

The Baldwins eventually moved off the property, citing Duffy’s lawsuit and prior grievances she’s levied against them. 

“It’s everything on my property,” Kellie Baldwin told The Enterprise in 2018 of Duffy’s complaints. “It’s, ‘Cut down this tree.’ It’s ‘Do this,’ ‘Do that.’”

The highway superintendent who succeeded Oliver, Gregory Wier, visited Duffy’s property in 2018 to examine any sight-line obstruction and review Oliver’s initial determination, but he told The Enterprise in 2018 that he didn’t find anything of significance, and he noted that, if the driveway were to be reduced, cars would have to be parked on the road, potentially creating even more obstruction.

Other Guilderland officials were also unsympathetic to Duffy’s battle to get the driveway removed.

The highway department’s storm-management officer, Kenneth D’Arpino, disproved a claim Duffy made about runoff from the Baldwin property escaping onto her own, according to court documents.

Deputy Chief of the Guilderland Police Department Curtis Cox told The Enterprise in 2018 that, while calls about neighbor disputes are carefully considered by police whenever they’re made, calls from Duffy became so numerous and so varied that the town police began referring the matters to the town attorney.

“We have been dealing with Miss Duffy for quite a while,” Cox said then, “and we’ve been trying to resolve the issues that she has with the neighbors.”

The appeals Duffy made to the town about the driveway were ultimately insufficient to put a hold on the statute of limitations, which court documents state is four months after a determination “definitively impacts and aggrieves the party seeking judicial review.” 


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