Mayfair Lane residents ask Common Council to resolve 'fencegate'

Apr 11, 2018

One of Buffalo's toniest addresses, Mayfair Lane, is in the midst of a civil war. The Common Council has been called in to settle the fight.

Some of Buffalo's well-connected people were in front of the Council Legislation Committee Tuesday in a fight over a gate and fence inside Mayfair Lane. The Council was dragged in because the Board of Directors of the E.B. Green landmark on North Street claims the city Preservation Board was misinformed about a request for a gate within the complex.

Led by lawyers and residents Michael Ryan and Anna Richmond, the Mayfair Board has appealed the decision. Haley Hartmann, wife of property owner Noel Sutton, insisted she is not bound by the rules that have governed Mayfair Lane since it opened 90 years ago. She said Sutton wants high security because of a recent break-in.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"Someone broke down a door to his house and entered in the middle of the night," Hartmann said. "A car was broken into and several instances of criminal mischief occurred on the property. The result has been some pending criminal charges against several people."

Some of the speakers explained the security precautions include the fence and high gate, bright security lighting, surveillance cameras and a very loud emergency horn. The Mayfair Board of Directors brought the request before the Council for reversal of the Preservation Board's decision, saying the rules of the housing community control changes in the houses.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Preservationist Tim Tielman suggested the Preservation Board may have been given poor information.

"The Council, because of the restrictions put on the Preservation Board actions, we believe the Preservation Board with what they were given may have made a justifiable decision, but that doesn't mean it's a proper decision in terms of historic preservation," said Tielman, "so we would support overturning that decision."

Residents say the fence and gate needed internal approval before the Preservation Board and what was built is not what the Preservation board approved.

Council President Darius Pridgen dueled with Hartmann over what the rules are and whether Mayfair Lane rules apply to the building. Hartmann said "no." Pridgen finally sent the measure to the Council caucus and invited both sides to show up Monday with their information.