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Second battle over toilets set as Potsdam man is ticketed


POTSDAM — Businessman Frederick D. "Hank" Robar is scheduled to appear today in Village Court for refusing to clean up his toilet-adorned lot at Market and Pleasant streets.

Mr. Robar was given an appearance ticket by village Code Enforcement Officer John F. Hill on Feb. 12 for allegedly "allowing dangerous solid waste to remain at 82 Market St." Mr. Robar's ticket calls for his presence in village court at 9:30 a.m. today to answer the charge.

"I'm going to plead innocent and if they want to go farther I'll ask for a jury trial," Mr. Robar said. "Those toilets aren't dangerous. They're flower pots. It's art."

Mr. Robar has defied village officials for the past several years by keeping a row of old commodes as flower pots on his property. He began the "artistic display" after village officials refused to rezone his property from a B-2 to a B-1 district.

Trustee Ruth F. Garner has been an outspoken critic of Mr. Robar's Market Street display over the years and said his corner lot of toilets filled with flowers and trees is not art but an eyesore.

"I question that it is artistic, and I think it is dangerous. I suppose it's in the eye of the beholder," she said.

Mrs. Garner agreed with village code officials that Mr. Robar's toilets are a danger to the public because the tanks and bowls are often broken by vandals, leaving behind sharp shards of porcelain on the ground.

Wednesday will mark the second time in two years that Mr. Robar has been hauled into court by village officials over the condition of his Market Street lot.

He also was issued an appearance ticket in September 2008, but the ticket was dismissed by village Justice Joseph M. Welch, who ruled village officials failed to file the proper supporting documents.

Mr. Robar, who owns dozens of rental properties in the village, said he paid more than $28,000 in combined village, school, county and town taxes last year. He said as a property owner and taxpayer he believes he is entitled to his day in court and a trial before a jury of his peers.

"I'm saying if they want to pursue this, then let a jury decide. That's fine with me," Mr. Robar said.

Mrs. Garner agreed.

"That's his privilege. That's what this country is built on. It's his right," she said.

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