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Falconer Denies Special Permit Request On Cats

Brenda Goodwill pictured at her Park Avenue home in the village of Falconer. P-J file photo

FALCONER — A Falconer woman hoping to receive village approval to keep more animals than currently allowed by code will have to wait at least another month.

Ellicott Town Justice Marilyn Gerace on Tuesday adjourned a meeting involving Brenda Goodwill, her attorney and the village to Sept. 17. The adjournment will allow Goodwill’s attorney, Scott Humble, and village attorney Greg Peterson time to “research some different things.”

Gerace called for Tuesday’s meeting after Goodwill had been issued a summons June 14 for violating the village’s code on harboring animals. While in court in July, Goodwill said she keeps as many as 17 cats at a time in her Park Avenue home in Falconer while getting them fixed and out for adoption.

Goodwill receives many of her cats either through trapping or from a member of the community. She has become known locally for helping to reduce to the feral cat population.

Village code currently allows residents to own two dogs and two cats. Harboring additional animals require a special permit approved by the Village Board.

“Cats are pretty much disregarded around here and around the world,” Goodwill said in July. “If I hadn’t brought in (the feral cats), they’d probably live a miserable life. They wouldn’t make it out there.”

Hoping to resolve the code violation, Gerace asked the village to appear in court. On Tuesday, Peterson noted that the Village Board had reviewed Goodwill’s request for a special permit, but denied it during a meeting Aug. 12. During that same meeting, another request — made May 13 by a Central Avenue resident to allow more than two cats and two dogs — was also denied.

Goodwill said she was never told the Village Board would be voting on a permit. She first heard of the denial in court Tuesday.

“The village seems very hostile to her,” Humble said after court adjourned.

Humble is contesting that the section involving the boarding of animals outlined in the village code does not apply to Goodwill. Peterson said he disagreed with that viewpoint.

As was the case last month, more than a dozen supporters packed the Town Court on Tuesday. Several, including many village residents, have written letters stating they are OK with Goodwill keeping her animals, which include a couple of dogs.

In a letter given to Humble detailing the Aug. 12 Village Board meeting, two residents living in a Park Avenue home told the board not to grant Goodwill the permit.

Furthermore, Michael Steele, village trustee, said he had talked to neighbors of Goodwill and the Central Avenue homeowner, both of whom sought special permits.

“In both cases, neighbors were not in favor of special permits being granted for any animals more than the two cats and two dogs allowed by village code,” the letter detailing the board’s minutes read.

Steele said no one has told Goodwill that she needs to sell her house or move. Goodwill had told Gerace in July that the village notified her to “get rid of the cats or sell my house.”

Goodwill has put her home up for sale. She said she is still hoping to resolved the matter.

“I’m just trying to do a service for the community,” she said.

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