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Fiery session erupts over proposed yard sale law: A call for councilman to resign

Two Town Hall meetings on drafting yard sales regulations resulted in accusations of one resident being singled out unfairly, charges of bullying by public officials, and the demand that a councilman resign.

Susan Williams, whose yard on South Midway Road has been at the center of neighbors’ complaints, appealed to the Town Board at a hearing Nov.13 to call off plans for legislation. Instead, she asked for and received offers of help to clear her property of debris.

But after it appeared that cooler heads had prevailed and a proposed yard sale law would be scrapped, it erupted again at Tuesday’s Town Board work session.

A project to help clean up the Williams property seemed in place after the Nov. 13 public hearing, but Ms. Williams complained Tuesday that what had looked like a solution isn’t necessarily happening — at least not yet.

During the Nov. 13 hearing, Councilman Jim Colligan, an initiator of the yard sale legislation, said he thought the issues with Ms. Williams’ yard could be resolved and he vowed to “tear up the proposed law” if the situation could be rectified. At the same time, he said there had been safety issues that had to be resolved involving vehicles parking in the area to buy items from Ms. Williams.

“Give us an opportunity,” Mr. Colligan had said last week about an effort to help her clean up her property.

“Let’s get this done in a neighborly way,” Ms. Williams agreed, although she had called Mr. Colligan “a bully who brings out the worst in people.”

Resident Lynne Weikert asked that a limit of a month be set to provide time to improve the Williams property.

But by Tuesday, it looked like a settlement wasn’t in the works.

After the Nov. 13 public hearing, it appeared that Supervisor Gerry Siller had a crew willing to work with volunteers to assist Ms. Williams in clearing her property.

Despite the proposed solution Nov. 13, Ms. Williams was still angry with Mr. Colligan and Mr. Siller, asking them, “Is this a democracy or it this a dictatorship?”

She reiterated her opposition to a yard sale law, insisting others in town also saw no reason for implementing it.

On Tuesday, Ms. Williams said that nothing has been done and with a 30-day deadline to get the property cleared, she isn’t optimistic. “This is very traumatic for me,” she said about parting with items in her front yard. She doesn’t want men arriving with trucks to cart off items, as had been agreed upon. Instead she wants the town to provide a dumpster, saying she can direct a crew what is to be disposed of and what should be placed in her backyard where it won’t be seen by neighbors.

A yard sale law would be counterproductive, Ms. Williams said Tuesday, while acknowledging that she used to run yard sales, but stopped because of what she charged was harassment from Mr. Siller and Mr. Colligan. “This is a backbiting, bullying thing,” she said Tuesday.

Mr. Siller was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Ms. Williams directed her attention at Mr. Colligan, speaking about a town investigation into charges brought by Highway Department employees who said that they are being denied their rights of free speech by being told by Mr. Colligan to remove political signs from personal vehicles parked at the Recycling Center.

The union representing the employees have called for Mr. Colligan’s resignation and Ms. Williams seconded that suggestion.

Several times Tuesday she asked the councilman what he meant when he is alleged to have told the employees they couldn’t expect any favors from him if they failed to remove the signs. Mr. Colligan remained silent and Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. told board members not to respond because the issue is the subject of litigation.

Ms. Williams went on to insist that public tax money shouldn’t be spent to defend Mr. Colligan.

She denied that her property was the cause of her neighbors Stephen Gessner and Kathleen Minder having difficulty selling their house. The couple said they were told by their realtor that the condition of Ms. Williams’ property is a problem.

Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams, who ran Tuesday’s meeting in Mr. Siller’s absence, finally put a stop to the discussion. But she promised Ms. Williams town officials would take action starting Wednesday to begin to organize the disposal of items she agrees to either dispose of or move to her backyard.

Ms. Brach-Williams said discussion of a possible yard sale law remains on the table for further discussion.