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In suing I-Square, Irondequoit escalates standoff for incoming Supervisor-elect Andrae Evans

Mike Nolan in front of the I-Square development site that he owns in Irondequoit.
Max Schulte
Mike Nolan in front of the I-Square development site that he owns in Irondequoit.

The town of Irondequoit is suing the owners of I-Square — asking a judge to declare the property is in violation of town code and order the developers to make changes.

The lawsuit marks an escalation of a months-long standoff between developers Mike and Wendy Nolan and outgoing Irondequoit Supervisor Rory Fitzpatrick and his administration.

I-Square is a commercial and residential development off Titus Avenue. The project has been something of a political football in its 10-plus years of development. And Nolan claims that is what is happening again with the Fitzpatrick administration.

Fitzpatrick, a Republican, has claimed that his Democratic predecessors looked the other way as the Nolans veered from their approved site plan and from town code.

The lawsuit focuses on some fundamental parts of the development, things like a through-street that became a dead-end, an added parking lot access onto a residential street, and a cottage-style residential development that doesn’t match up with plans.

Mike Nolan claims the town is using outdated records, and that he got the required approvals.

“I’m actually happy about the suit,” he said Thursday. “Because it gets above the town level, which I have been unable to do.”

Fitzpatrick lost re-election this month. So the lawsuit passes to Supervisor-elect Andrae Evans — a Democrat who takes office in January. He has said he knows and shares a mutual respect with the Nolans and hoped to work out the differences “in a calm, respectful way.”

“This has been taken out of my hands now,” Evans said when reached by phone on Thursday.

Andrae Evans
Provided photo
Andrae Evans

Evans said he learned of the lawsuit through media reports and had not spoken with either Fitzpatrick or Nolan about it. But he said there would be no favoritism shown by his administration.

“Everyone gets treated the same,” he said. “If Mr. Nolan is out of compliance, then the town will act to bring him into compliance.”

Nolan last found himself at odds with Republican leaders back in 2016, when the county’s GOP chairman Bill Reilich took a botched political swipe at Adam Bello. The former Irondequoit supervisor had just been appointed county clerk and was seen as a rising star, likely to challenge for county executive.

The claim was that Bello was abandoning his town and its problems, case in point being I-Square — which Reilich alleged was in default on its tax break deal. The charge turned out to be false. The scandal led to multiple resignations and a public apology from then-County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. Bello went on to defeat Dinolfo in 2019, becoming the first Democrat elected to the county’s top office in three decades.

As for the lawsuit, the likelihood of the town taking formal action has been brewing for months.

Fitzpatrick was asked back in August when and if the town might take Nolan to court.

“We're evaluating that now,” Fitzpatrick said during an interview with WXXI News. “And, you know, he's going to try to put us in a position and make it look like we're the bad guys. But … we're trying to work with him. And he will not work with the town, will not follow the rules.”

An extended negotiation and outside review had resulted in the town delivering a fix-it list of sorts to Nolan. But Nolan had allegedly balked.

Nolan has painted the town as anti-business, and said it’s been an obstacle to being able to complete a project that was to include a boutique hotel and other features. He posted “For Sale” signs at the property months ago but admittedly had not hired a broker.

Brian Sharp is WXXI's investigations and enterprise editor. He also reports on business and development in the area. He has been covering Rochester since 2005. His journalism career spans nearly three decades.