Rochester, NY--October 23, 2017--Tom Golisano, who owns a home on Canandaigua Lake in South Bristol, is withholding his September school tax payment of $90,000 pending help from the Town of Bristol with a significant geese problem.
At any given time, from 50 to 200 geese take up residence on Golisano's lawn, making it unusable as intended for any activity due to the extreme amount of waste. The 2900-plus square foot home has approximately 850 feet of lake frontage. Golisano has owned the home and the adjacent lots and another nearby property since 1999. His annual taxes are $132,000.
The waste, which Golisano must have regularly hosed or blown off his lawn into the lake, presents a health hazard to people using the lawn and the lake. No one can walk on the lawn due to the amount of waste. Golisano's water supply also comes from the lake from a location near to where the geese are congregating and where the waste runs off.
The geese problem has escalated over the past few years. During that time Golisano has tried everything reasonable short of killing the birds, which he will not do, including consulting a wildlife expert, lining the property perimeter with fishing line, spraying goose repellant on the lawn, running the geese off with dogs, and placing artificial animals and noisemakers on the site.
His communication with and requests for assistance from the DEC and the town of South Bristol have met with only sympathy and suggestions to take the same steps he has already taken.
Golisano is asking for the Town of South Bristol to manage a coordinated community approach to solving the problem so that it is not just passed onto other homeowners.
"I have always believed that government has a responsibility to protect people," said Golisano. "We are not talking about a few geese who occasionally land for lunch. We are talking about up to 200 geese at a time that refuse to leave. If I am ever successful in getting them to leave, they will just become a nuisance for someone else. It's an untenable situation that has made my property unusable as it was intended thus reducing its value. Who wants a house on the lake if you can't go outside to enjoy the lake?"
"It seems logical to me that the town has a vested interest in maintaining property values to sustain its tax revenue and to also protect its citizens from a significant potential health hazard."
"People who have ponds on their property can impact the source of the problem by removing nests. I cannot do that on a public lake. Although controlling nesting would be a longer-term solution, it would require residents all around the lake to be involved and to get permits to remove the nests. That is more than one homeowner can coordinate."
"I am hoping that the town will take action to assist me in resolving this problem quickly so that my family and I can enjoy my property and not shift a major geese nuisance problem onto other homeowners."
"If the town cannot help, I will request a reassessment based on the property's lower value, a process I have successfully navigated for two other local properties through town board hearings and court cases. My home in Mendon was reassessed from $6 million to a more reasonable $1.9 million with taxes reduced from $200,000 to $60,000. My daughter's home in Victor, was reassessed from $4.2 million to $1.3 million with annual taxes reduced from $100,000 to about $40,000."