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Big-cats case heading back to court

October 15, 2012
By JOHN BORGOLINI , The Leader Herald

MAYFIELD - A town resident's dispute with local officials over the tigers and other big cats on his property remains unresolved.

The town Planning Board last month ruled Steve Salton, who has several tigers and leopards in cages at 3240 Route 30, could not continue his operation as a "home occupation" business in the residential district. The town supervisor, however, says the matter is not over.

The town Zoning Board of Appeals ruled in October 2011 that he was engaged in a home business. Because of his property's residential zoning, he had to file a site plan for review by the town Planning Board. Salton had to apply for "home occupation" status for his operation, which he had described as a refuge for the animals. Through his attorney, he filed an Article 78 legal challenge to the town's interpretation of the law.

Town Supervisor Richard Argotsinger said Salton's case is expected to go back to state Supreme Court Justice Richard Aulisi, who has told Salton he needed to get the town's approval to continue his operation.

"Judge Aulisi required that Mr. Salton come to the Planning Board on whether the Zoning Board of Appeals made the right decision [in denying Salton's home-occupation application]," Argotsinger said. "He was denied for safety reasons and home occupation doesn't comply with our zoning and comprehensive plans ... [The board's] concern was the safety of the residents."

Town officials say Salton has the proper licenses for the big cats from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Salton did not return calls seeking comment for this story. Previously, he has said he shows the animals to visitors by appointment and asks for donations to help with the cost of feeding the animals.

Some of Salton's neighbors have complained about the presence of the animals, saying they fear what could happen if one were to escape.

John Borgolini covers Mayfield news and can be reached by email at



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