Cassadaga resident concerned about family’s land

CASSADAGA – A village resident wants to keep her family’s property along Cassadaga Beach.

Maria Behrns told the Cassadaga Village Board at a recent meeting her grandfather bought the land located at 40 Park Ave. in the late 1950s. She purchased the property from her grandmother in 1998.

“I wanted to retire here,” she said. “My grandfather built the trailer on the property and never had a problem with anyone who lived near there.”

This isn’t the case with Behrns, who reports having problems with the neighbors’ kids throwing rocks at her grandchildren.

“We didn’t make too many friends here,” she said. “I lived here my whole life, but didn’t spend a lot of time here. I don’t really know anyone.”

The septic tank was shut off to her trailer when Behrns stopped by recently.

“I was told to pay 25 percent because I don’t live here all the time,” she said. “My attorney sent their (Chautauqua County Septic) attorney a letter, but we haven’t had any response yet.”

“I came down here and saw the signs on my property,” Behrns continued. “I spoke to the mayor about my septic system being shut down.”

Behrns wants to spend more time on her grandfather’s property this summer, but can’t do that without a septic tank.

“I don’t want to invest $5,000 into a septic system if I can’t stay there,” she said. “It’s a seasonal place and I am not really considered a resident. I have problems with neighbors.”

Mayor LeeAnn Lazarony said the village doesn’t take sides on these matters.

“We can’t allow someone to inhabit a residence without septic,” she said. “It is a health issue; if you are there a day it is considered inhabiting the home. You can park there and go in and out to use the beach.”

“The trailer is like camping only nicer,” Behrns said. “I can’t replace the trailer.”

Village Clerk Roxanne Astry mentioned Behrns has rights, because she is grandfathered in.

“If I could spend my summers down here I would build something,” Behrns said. “I asked my neighbor 10-years ago if she would sell me four feet of her property, and she said it was the ‘silver lining’ of her property and she wouldn’t sell it to me.”

Behrns knows variances are needed to build on the land and they are time limited.

“We will get a hold of the zoning officer and have him tell you what you need to do,” Lazarony said.

“Right now I have three shut offs,” Behrns said. “The main waterline, trailer line and ground line are shut off. I brought water with me to use for the toilet.”

Behrns is worried if the trailer stays condemned for too long the village will tear down her home.

“If the trailer is not used for 18 months, it is no longer protected under the grandfather case,” Astry said.

“I feel terrible I have lived here so many years and don’t really know anyone,” Behrns said. “I work full-time. I love this place, it’s nostalgic. My daughter and grandkids love it here too.”

When she gets more vacation time, Behrns said she plans to be more involved in the community.