LEROY, NY — In 2011, Pete McQuillen purchased 13–14 acres of land with a plan to build affordable homes for newly retired people. What he didn’t know was that over the next decade his life would be turned upside down.
McQuillen has always enjoyed the process of building something and watching it grow and improve over time. Growing up, his father owned many acres of land and he always wanted to follow that path of finding land of his own and building something from the ground up.
“Three out of four of my children had left the nest and my wife and I were looking to downsize,” McQuillen said.
“We researched where there was land for sale to build a new home and found that there were about 13 acres of land right up the street from where we were living,” he added.
After more research and discussions with friends, McQuillen started to realize that there was not a place in the area where other people his age could also move into when they were looking to retire and downsize.
“We did a couple of meetings, we sent out petitions, we had over 500 signatures of people that supported what we were pitching, which was a planned unit development.” McQuillen said.
McQuillen purchased the land from the owner, the money was exchanged and the deed was handed over. However, it wasn’t until a couple months after purchasing the land that another neighbor found out that McQuillen had bought it and that’s when his life started to take a drastic turn.
“Had I known what I know today, I never would have even went down that road.” McQuillen said.
The neighbor met with the previous owner of the land and concocted a plan with lawyers to sue McQuillen for fraud. They claimed that the previous owner did not know what McQuillen planned to do with the property after they sold it to him.
The neighbor was funding the previous owner’s legal fees through the entire lawsuit and if the previous owner won the case, the neighbor was going to buy the property back for a larger amount of money than McQuillen paid.
“They took this lawsuit to the Genesee County Supreme Court but lost. They appealed it, and lost again. But this was not the ending of being sued.”
The plaintiffs continued to file lawsuit after lawsuit against McQuillen for the homes that he was building on his property.
“We didn’t just build these buildings without permits, we went to code enforcement officer, we gave him the set of plans, we gave him the copy of the deed of the property, he gave us the building permit and approved it.” McQuillen
Although McQuillen has never sued anybody in his life he has been to the Town Court multiple times, the Genesee County Supreme Court three to four times and the New York State Supreme Court of Appeals three times.
“We had sleepless nights forever, and it turned our lives upside down, when all we did was buy some property,” McQuillen said.
As of today, two out of the three plaintiffs have moved away from the area, but they are still suing McQuillen.
McQuillen says he cannot believe the amount of money he has spent on legal fees over the last decade, and he is quite frankly, scared to add it up.