BOLTON -- The town’s zoning administrator has ordered a wildlife rehabilitator to stop treating animals on her property, after a neighbor who sits on the town Zoning Board of Appeals complained he was worried the birds of prey she was helping would harm his Irish setter.
Patricia Marki and her husband, Bernard Marki, have appealed the zoning administrator’s directive, arguing that her neighbors’ complaints are unwarranted and the volunteer work she performs does not affect property values.
Patricia Marki, a state and federally licensed rehabilitator, has been helping injured native raptors, including owls, hawks, falcons and bald eagles, at a self-made rehabilitation center on her property off Braley Point Road for about a decade. Braley Point Road runs between Route 9N and Lake George, in an area of lakeside homes.
The operation started with cages on the side of her home. But as more birds were brought to her, Marki expanded into a seven-acre wooded area across the road from her home, with bigger cages required for large birds such as eagles.
It was about two years ago that town officials first got a complaint about Marki’s efforts.
In addition to the concerns about a possible danger to dogs, neighbors complained the screen-and-board cages were unpermitted structures and hurt their property values. Marki said a Warren County building inspector concluded the cages were not structures.
Marki said the cages are not visible from the road during spring and summer, and many of the lake residents aren’t around in the colder months when they can be seen.
“What we do is very low impact, but it provides a necessary service to the community,” she said.
Marki said she has the only large “flight cage” in the region for bigger birds such as eagles, and only raptors that are native to the Adirondacks are held there.
The town zoning administrator determined that animal rehabilitation was not an approved use for the property in a residential area, and that cages built in woods across the road from Marki’s home were unpermitted “structures.”
“These are birds that are present in the wild in the Adirondacks,” she said. “I don’t know why they moved to the Adirondacks if they don’t want to be around wildlife.”
Marki has stopped bringing birds to the property while the issue is pending before the Zoning Board.
The neighbor who Marki said first raised issues about his fear for his dog’s safety, Anthony DePace, did not return a phone message to his home.
DePace sits on the Zoning Board and has recused himself from involvement in the case, but Marki said she is concerned he still has influence with the board.
A call to town Supervisor Ron Conover was referred to the town’s zoning administrator, Pamela Kenyon. A message left for her was returned by town attorney Michael Muller, who said a meeting of the ZBA to discuss the Marki issue was postponed this week because of a lack of ZBA members.
Muller said a decision by the Zoning Board has been delayed as it dealt with membership issues that included the death last month of board member John Michaels and DePace’s recusal.
He said there was no timetable for a decision.
“Whatever the ZBA decides, I am prepared to enforce,” Muller said.