BINGHAMTON, NY – A Choconut Center man is fighting with Broome County over a patch of land between his townhouse and Airport Road.
John Hawley lives on Daisy Drive and his property abuts a county-owned embankment leading up to Airport Road.
2 years ago, he began clearing brush and a few trees from the land with the plan to fence in the property.
Hawley says he needs the fence to keep his dogs from getting away and wildlife from getting into his gardens.
When neighbors complained about his clearing of the vegetative buffer, Broome sent letters to all of the residents of the cul de sac asking them not to build on the county property.
Hawley says there’s been no erosion and that he received verbal permission for the project from the prior county administration.
He says he’s being singled out as others have built permanent structures on that strip of land.
“I wanted to come to an amicable, common sense resolution to utilize this piece of property. They won’t sell it to me, I offered to buy it. I said, ‘If you need it, you can take it back on eminent domain.’ That would solve the problem. If I bought it, my taxes go up. you get more tax money. ‘Nope. You have to take your fence down to the county line,” says Hawley.
Commissioner of Public Works Leslie Boulton says the county purchased the property years ago for a specific purpose: to protect Airport Road from future erosion.
She says the county had the property surveyed in 2019 and was willing to allow Hawley to keep his planters and 20 feet of privacy fence.
But Boulton says Hawley went ahead and defied them anyway.
“After the county sent out a letter saying ‘No further incursions onto county property,’ Mr. Hawley built 150 feet of fence on our property. In blatant disregard to this letter saying ‘Please do not incur further onto county land,” says Boulton.
Since we first visited the property last week, Hawley has removed much of the fencing that extended to the shoulder of the road.
But he insists he shouldn’t have to retreat further unless everyone is forced to remove their structures from county property