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Action ordered on Yates Barn silos

Orchard Park Town Board members Wednesday night declared two silos next to the historic Yates Barn unsafe and ordered them repaired or torn down.

But in a nod to a small group of residents hoping to save the silos, the board ordered that no demolition take place for at least 10 days.

Kelly J. Diggins, an attorney for the Cosgrove Firm, which successfully defended the barn's local landmark status several years ago, pleaded with the Town Board to give "friends of the barn" time to look into obtaining funding to repair the silos. The silos, she said, are integral to the barn.

"It is an icon in the town and we'd like to see it stay that way," she said, adding that the Cosgrove Firm would help with grant applications.

Town Board members were reluctant to order the silos demolished.

"We're in an awkward position," Councilman Eugene Majchrzak said. "We want to preserve the history of Orchard Park."

Supervising Building Inspector Andrew Geist reported to the board that the integrity of the silos was in question following the winter. A number of tiles have fallen from the side walls, creating a hazardous condition that could lead to collapse at any time.

"It could stand there years," Geist said Wednesday night. "It could fall down tonight."

Town Engineer Wayne Biehler said the only way to rehabilitate the silos is to dismantle and reassemble them. He said the town had talked to several Amish who have dismantled silos, but they don't take apart this type because the tiles break in the process.

"If it falls, it takes the barn out," Biehler warned.

Supervisor Janis Colarusso said the silos are a hazard to the people who care for horses in the barn.

"It would be a different story if no one was in that barn," she said.

James Jerge is the owner of the property, and he bought the 30-acre parcel planning to build a subdivision. After he challenged the local historic landmark status of the barn and lost, he offered to turn the barn over to the town. No transfer has taken place, and the town is still reviewing the cost of preserving the barn, which was built between 1906 and 1915.

"If nothing is done, it will deteriorate quickly," Biehler said. "It's on a very fast downward slide."

If Jerge wants to challenge the order, a hearing would be conducted next Wednesday, Town Attorney Leonard Berkowitz said. But several town officials said they believe the owner wants to demolish the silos.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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