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Melrose Farms

A structure at Melrose Farms in Owasco previously condemned after being illegally used to house migrant workers has been converted into a space for calves.

Joseph Tidd, the owner of Melrose Farms in Owasco, reimbursed the town this week for attorney fees spent litigating his citations for illegally housing workers, according to Owasco Town Supervisor Ed Wagner.

The town first cited Tidd in February for a code violation after housing migrant workers on his dairy farm in a structure without a certificate of occupancy or a permit to be built. 

Despite the town issuing a cease and desist order, Tidd was found in September to still be housing workers in the structure, which one worker described in a letter as being rife with cockroaches, mice, exposed electrical wiring and other hazards.

Since then, Tidd has been in Owasco Town Court several times to address the violation. While a scheduled appearance this Monday was adjourned, Tidd subsequently provided the town with a check for $3,256 to cover its attorney fees, Wagner said.

"As the town supervisor, I'm happy the taxpayers are not going to be footing the bill for legal expenses for Mr. Tidd," Wagner said.

The payment joins a $500 fine issued Tuesday by the Cayuga County Board of Health for a septic violation at the same structure.

The reimbursement was one of several stipulations the town court required of Tidd, according to Wagner. Tidd was also required to remove the building's heating, electrical, and septic systems and room partitions, which he has complied with.

Tidd has since converted the structure into housing for calves, according to pictures taken of an inspection by J. Patrick Doyle, the town code enforcement officer.

While Tidd has complied so far with the orders from the town and board of health, Town Justice Mark DiVietro could still opt for additional fines for the repeated violations.

"He's met all of the demands the judge placed on him as far as we're concerned and now it's just a matter of if the judge wants to take it one step further," Wagner said. "That'll be up to the judge."

Tidd is scheduled to reappear in Owasco Town Court at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10.

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Staff writer Ryan Franklin can be reached at (315) 282-2252 or ryan.franklin@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @RyanNYFranklin

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County government reporter