- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh’s housing authority wants a paintball business off its land.

Neil “Buddy” Wright has run paintball games on a portion of 200 acres of city-owned land since 1989. Housing authority officials say they filed a suit in June accusing his business of trespassing. They are seeking an “ejectment.”

A housing authority spokesman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1EmHjOg ) they plan to make the entire property eligible for a federal program that eases access to previously unavailable financing options.

Housing authority officials would not say when it became aware of Wright’s business, and Wright said he never sought permission and did not pay rent to the authority.

But Wright said he has removed refrigerators, tires and other debris from the site.

“They just used it for a dump. … Who did anything with it? Nobody. I cleaned it up and I was making a living there.”

Wright’s lawyer, Peter Georgiades, said the housing authority’s inattentiveness to its own land means it no longer legally owns it under legal doctrine called “adverse possession,” commonly called “squatter’s rights.”

In Pennsylvania, if one uses a property openly, that person becomes the owner of the property after 21 years, Georgiades said.

The housing authority has said it is a state entity and that adverse possession does not apply to it.

Georgiades also said his client has been subject to “bureaucratic bullying” since the lawsuit was filed. He said the city has used a tax audit against Wright and pressured police to evict him, among other actions.

“What they’re trying to do in the meantime is to cost this man so much money on these specious, outrageous collateral proceedings that he can’t afford to go to trial,” he said. “If they run him out of business, the fact that they slept on their right for 28 years isn’t revealed.”


Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, https://www.post-gazette.com

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