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Judge refuses to dismiss lawsuit on motorcycle riding in Pendleton subdivision

PENDLETON – A lawsuit over motorcycle riding in a pricey Pendleton subdivision will continue, as State Supreme Court Justice Ralph A. Boniello III has refused to dismiss the case.

Nine residents of the Pendale subdivision off Tonawanda Creek Road filed suit in November, contending that a motocross track on property owned by Matthew Donahue was spoiling their quality of life.

The neighbors, led by attorney Dominic Saraceno, contended that the bikes made to much noise and kicked up dust.

The defendants are Matthew Donahue and his parents, Pendale residents Paul and Clare Donahue.

The Donahues’ attorney, Geffrey Gismondi, moved to dismiss the case without even answering the allegations, contending that they were false. Boniello denied the motion.

Saraceno said the case will now continue with discovery – the sharing of evidence – and depositions.

“We’ll continue to try to negotiate a settlement in the meantime,” he said.

Gismondi said he will now file a formal answer to the allegations.

“I think the plaintiffs are going to be put in the difficult position of trying to prove their case,” he said.

Gismondi asserted that Paul and Clare Donahue should not be parties to the suit, since Matthew Donahue’s name is on the deed. Saraceno contended that the parents have effective control of the land.

Gismondi denounced the lawsuit as “an attempt to intimidate a young property owner. A private property owner has a right to recreate on their property.”

That argument resounded with a large crowd of town residents who attended a Town Board meeting a couple of weeks after the suit was filed and demanded that the board uphold the right to use off-road vehicles. The board did not change the town’s laws, and Matthew Donahue was told by the building inspector that he couldn’t ride dirt bikes on his land.

The controversy revealed a split between the attitudes of longtime Pendleton residents who liked the rural town they grew up in and recent arrivals from suburban towns in northern Erie County, who have fueled a subdivision boom in Pendleton but who don’t seem to agree with country lifestyles.

The lawsuit sought $2.52 million in damages, the sum of the assessed valuation of the nine plaintiffs’ homes.

“They say their property values have been reduced to zero,” Gismondi scoffed. He noted that since the lawsuit was filed, Saraceno has sold his house “for more than he paid for it.”

“I will withdraw myself as a plaintiff,” said Saraceno, who is moving to Lewiston. He said he is still the attorney representing the other eight plaintiffs.