Barrington board fires zoning officer
BARRINGTON--The ongoing struggle between Seth Olney and the town of Barrington reached another development during the town board meeting Wednesday night, Sept. 28. Building and Zoning Officer John Griffin was let go following an executive session after the meeting. This comes shortly after business owner Seth Olney's Attorney Jessica Bryant filed a lawsuit that day against Griffin for allegations he made against Olney that were recorded in a video.
Olney, owner of the Olney Place located at 823 E. Lake Road, also offered to withdraw his current lawsuit against the town if they confirm to the New York State Liquor Authority the town has always supported the sale and consumption of beer in his store, the adjacent lawn and additions of a porch and back room. The dispute between Olney and the town date back to 2013.
"I am exhausted, this process has exhausted me personally," Olney said. "To see the stress that is put on my friends, neighbors and family, I want nothing more than peace to continue in this town."
Olney claimed withdrawing his lawsuit would save the town "additional tens of thousands of dollars." He also offered to withdraw his request for attorney fees to be paid to him. Olney said he believes the legal strategy the town adopted would end in the complete revocation of their liquor license.
"This, of course, would lead to the closing of the Olney Place," Olney said.
Town Supervisor Phil Warren said the board will look into Olney's offer, noting he does not have a timeframe for when the decision will come.
"I feel at no point have I done anything to harm anyone," Olney said. "It was never my intent to use my property or my business to harm any of my neighbors or their property."
Griffin disagreed, claiming he has heard complaints from several people regarding improper behavior at the location.
"This situation has been anything but peaceful," Griffin said. "We have had allegations of eggs being thrown on driveways, Seth coming out in an American flag yelling at neighbors, F-bombing ZBA (zoning board of appeals) members, neighbors frightened so they can't even call in and complain, people urinating between the houses."
"All hearsay," Councilman Nathaniel Olney replied.
"Lots of hearsay, lots of complaints," Griffin responded. "You can wash it any way you want, but it's still there."
"Where is the sheriff's report?" Nathaniel inquired. "You see it?"
"Half of them are scared to death," Griffin said.
"You're so full of it John, it's coming out of your mouth," Nathaniel shot back.
"You know what? I talk to the people all the time," Griffin said. "They call me, so I know what's going on."
After Warren broke up the argument, the board finished its regular business and entered executive session. The next day, Warren confirmed Griffin had been let go, but did not elaborate on the reasons the town gave for his dismissal.
During the meeting, Bryant served Griffin with a lawsuit in regards to public allegations he had made against Seth.
"There have been public recordings and disseminations of allegations that my client Seth has committed criminal acts and inappropriate sexual conduct," Bryant claimed. "John Griffin himself recorded a video including these allegations that upon information of belief was sent, or will be sent, or was recorded with the purpose of being sent to the state Liquor Authority and other people."
Bryant said Seth is confident the statements and actions were not directed or condoned by the town. Bryant said this new lawsuit was filed only against Griffin and not the town, as Seth does not wish to involve the town in any further litigation. However, she noted this could change at any time if the town indicates their support of those actions.
"If the town reviews the allegations that are in this lawsuit, I'm confident the town will agree that the things that were stated in this video are so abhorrent and inappropriate that they could not be considered governmental conduct that should be permitted or considered governmental authority in any way," Bryant said.