Resentment blossoms as feud over lawn care in Kenmore gets into the weeds | Local News
It’s springtime, but the only things growing on a few strips of dirt along Elmwood Avenue in Kenmore are weeds – and resentment.
The long-running squabble that pits Joseph P. Farage Sr., owner of Buffalo Design & Printing, against village officials has been revived with the arrival of warmer weather.
Farage for the past several years has complained about a streetscape project intended to spruce up a stretch of Elmwood running north from Kenmore Avenue in the village. The work, which he argues was poorly thought out, included landscaping in the right-of-way sections between the sidewalk and curb.
Farage insists he won’t take care of the right-of-way strips, now made up mainly of dirt and patches of weeds, and he’s begging the village to let him pave over it.
And, once again, he’s posted lawn signs alerting anyone passing by to his grievances.
“There are much bigger things going on in the world,” Farage said in an interview. “And, you know, I’ve said my piece again this year. I reminded him with the email. It’s like, I’m done at this point. It’s either gonna keep looking the way it is, and I’m gonna worry about my business, or they’re gonna let me fix it.”
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The standoff has gotten personal, with Farage calling out Kenmore Mayor Patrick Mang in his signs and Mang playing the dispute for laughs last fall at his State of the Village meeting.
Mang shrugged off Farage’s latest complaint email. The mayor said Farage is required as the property owner to maintain his right of way, and he risks fines if he doesn’t tend to it.
“That is his responsibility, as it is everybody’s responsibility,” Mang said.
The disagreement is rooted in a village-county streetscape project in 2017 and 2018 that saw wider sidewalks, driveway aprons, curb ramps and green space added to Elmwood from Kenmore to North End avenues.
This stretch includes Farage’s family-owned business at 2620 Elmwood Ave. Farage said poor planning didn’t take into account that customers pulling into parking lots of businesses along Elmwood would cut across the newly added green space and tear up the grass.
Farage said Mang eventually promised to have village public works crews cut the grass, but Farage said they came only when he complained.
In frustration, Farage twice last year set up lawn signs putting the blame squarely on Mang: “Mayor Patrick Mang/Cut Your Grass.”
After The Buffalo News covered the dispute last fall, Mang arranged to have someone take a picture of him pushing a lawnmower on the right of way at his home. He had the image blown up to poster size and shared it at his State of the Village in November.
A sign with a message for Mayor Patrick Mang planted in mid-November 2021 on a strip of grass in front of Buffalo Design & Printing, 2620 Elmwood Ave. at Kenmore. Owner Joseph Farage Sr. is battling the village over who maintains the patches of grass. After The Buffalo News reported on the feud, the village warned Farage he faces fine if he doesn’t tend to the green space.
Sharon Cantillon/News file photo
“It’s frustrating that he thinks this is a joke,” Farage said. “I mean, they’ve spent a lot of our money to do this project. And to make a joke about it is not very mayoral.”
Mang said he was having some fun with the situation.
“Yeah, because to me it just seems so ridiculous and petty,” he said.
After the quarrel cooled off over the last few months, it’s blooming again now.
Farage on Wednesday emailed Mang and others to share new photos of the right-of-way strips following a winter’s worth of wear and tear.
The muddy strips are pockmarked by weedy patches of grass, into which Farage has planted two new signs. One reads, “Which architect planned this green space? And who approved it?” The other has a copy of Mang’s lawnmower photo with the words, “Mayor Mang thinks this is a joke.”
“Every commercial lot, on both sides of Elmwood, that you created from here to Kenmore Ave. looks like this,” emailed Farage, who copied a Buffalo News reporter and WBEN NewsRadio staffer. “Every commercial apron has mud holes on the side of the apron and the first 1-2 ft of grass along the curb is dead.”
Farage said he refuses to tend or improve the right way. He said he’s busy enough running his business, which has 12 open positions he’s trying to fill, and he doesn’t have the time or desire to hire a landscaper to care for it.
However, if the village grants permission, he would happily pave over the right-of-way strips.
“If he lets me fix it, you know, I’d love to fix it. Get it done,” Farage told The News.
Mang, for his part, said the village will no longer periodically mow Farage’s right-of-way strips.
It was unfair, the mayor said, to provide this courtesy to Farage alone. Under Kenmore village code, the village owns the right of way on a property but it is every property owner’s responsibility to maintain those areas.
This is the time of year when people plant new grass seed and otherwise repair any wintertime damage to their lawns, and Farage should do the same, Mang said.
The village could cite Farage for code violations if the grass and weeds grow too high, the mayor added.
As for the pointed personal criticism, Mang said, “He has every right to put up his signs and let everyone know how he feels.”
What if Farage goes ahead and paves over those strips without first getting permission?
“Well, then he’d be in some serious trouble,” Mang warned.
Farage said he doesn’t plan to tempt fate like that. But if the village doesn’t do anything to address this “eyesore,” as he put it, he won’t, either.
“I hope they have a change of heart,” he told The Buffalo News. “If they don’t, it’ll just remain as it is.”
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