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Minutes of the General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Association
September 26, 2005
The meeting was called to order at 8:00 p.m. by President Walter Mugdan. A
motion was made and seconded to waive the reading of the minutes from the May
meeting. Treasurer Frank Keenan gave the Treasurer’s Report, indicating a
balance on hand of $16,749.74 as of September 26th. A motion was made to accept
the Treasurer’s Report, the motion was seconded, and the report was unanimously
With respect to the ongoing issue of the proposed re-zoning of our area from R2 to R2A, Mr. Mugdan advised that the change is being moved along quickly and that it could conceivably be in place by March 2006. Mr. Mugdan has requested that the City Planning Commission consider including one area not currently zoned as R2 in the proposed rezoning, namely the three structures nearest the intersection of 41st Drive and Little Neck Parkway (which are currently in the R3-1 zone but which are also covered by our covenants). He also asked that the commercial overlay north of Northern Boulevard be made more narrow. The current commercial overlay extends more than 200 feet – the full width of the block from Northern Boulevard to 44th Avenue (and the same width from Westmoreland eastwards to the City line). Only the first 100 feet or so are actually used for commercial purposes; the remaining area to the north is exclusively residential, and should also be zoned R2A.
Mr. Mugdan noted that Councilman Tony Avella has introduced legislation that Westmoreland Association has endorsed. Under the proposed law, during the period between when the Planning Commission certifies an area for downzoning and the time when the City Council acts on such proposal, the Buildings Department would be prohibited from approving a building permit for a structure that does not conform to the proposed new zoning. This moratorium period would be about 45 days long. (Structures that do conform to the proposed new zoning could get a permit and commence construction during this period.)
Mr. Mugdan explained that the City Planning Commission met with the various civic associations active in the Little Neck/Douglaston area, including the Westmoreland Association, to explain its initial proposals for rezoning in that area. Based on comments provided during the meeting, the Commission will prepare a revised draft, and share it with the groups. The Commission asked that all the groups provide their input, on a consensus basis, as soon thereafter as possible. Association Member Tom Lloyd made a motion to authorize the Association’s President to work with the other civics, and make such decisions as he deems most appropriate, in an effort to develop and achieve such consensus. The motion was seconded, and passed unanimously.
Mr. Mugdan then discussed a quality of life issue affecting those members who live near the Little Neck station of the Long Island Rail Road: loud and disruptive train-whistle blowing to announce the arrival and departure of trains at this grade crossing. He advised that new federal regulations require longer and louder whistle blowing at grade crossings, but those same regulations also allow a community to opt out of the whistle-blowing requirement if other safety precautions are put in place. Member Bob Timmerman proceeded to circulate for members’ signatures a petition supporting such an “opt-out” with respect to the Little Neck grade crossing.
At the March meeting, it was suggested that the major title insurance companies operating in our area be formally advised of the covenants and restrictions that apply to our properties. Mr. Mugdan reported that he did indeed write to all 15 companies doing business in the State of New York and that he had received a postal “return receipt” card from each of them.
Discussion then moved to the main order of business for the meeting; namely, the unprecedented amount of new construction taking place in the area. Mr. Mugdan explained that, as soon as the Association is made aware of any building activity, a Certified Letter is sent to the builder/architect/owner of the property notifying them of the covenants and restrictions that run with the land. They are then invited to send a copy of the plans to the Association for review, and future actions depend on whether the plans comply or not. With respect to specific projects, Mr. Mugdan reported that during the previous months he, Vice President Sheldon Rosenblum and Board member Phil Toscano took action as follows:
Nassau Road – Based on visual inspection and after checking with the North Hempstead Building Department, the renovation project appears to be in compliance with our covenants and applicable zoning.
40-09 Westmoreland St.– Based on preliminary plans provided by the builder, the house being newly constructed on this previously empty lot seems to conform.
41-93 Morgan St. – This is the property where an illegal demolition took place previously, that was stopped by complaints from the Association and neighbors. Based on new plans recently provided by the builder, the house to be constructed appears to satisfy zoning and covenant requirements.
41-88 and 41-90 (a/k/a 43-06) Morgan Street – These homes were completed about a year ago but have not been sold as yet. The builder can not get a Certificate of Occupancy for the more southerly of the homes because a final survey shows that the house encroaches on the neighboring property. The Association has written to the Buildings Department opposing the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy, and the Association will further oppose any variance that the developer may attempt to obtain since he was notified of the problem prior to the onset of construction. The Association has, moreover, advised the builder of a way (albeit a not inexpensive one) in which he can cure the violation without having to demolish or remove part of the house.
Former 39-37 Glenwood St., which will become 39-39 and 39-45 Glenwood St:
Plans will be reviewed carefully once they are available.
250-22 44th Avenue: Property was sold again in late spring, 2005. A meeting was held with the builder, whose initial plans were for a non-complying multiple family structure. The builder was advised that the Association would oppose such a structure. [After the September 26 meeting, it was learned that the builder filed a new permit application for a one-family house, and construction on the foundation began the first week in October. Initial indications are that the house will comply with the zoning and covenants.]
Vacant Land between 2 homes on Westmoreland Street: Two adjacent properties on Westmoreland Street, each 60 x 100 feet, both had their houses situated such that the northerly portion of one property and the southerly portion of the adjacent property were both “empty.” The more southerly property was put on the market earlier this year. From the former owner of that property, the owner of the more northerly property purchased the 20’ strip nearest to his own property. The remainder of the more southerly property, now measuring 40’ x 100’, was sold separately to a new owner. The obvious purpose of the subdivision was for the owner of the more northerly property to use the 20’ strip from the more southerly property, together with the adjacent 20’ “empty” strip from his own property, to assemble a new 40’ x 100’ lot on which a house can be built.
With respect to existing homes that may pose problems, it was reported that brochures were circulated marketing a home at 39-33 Glenwood Street as suitable for a “mother-daughter” arrangement, and as suitable for a second kitchen. The obvious implication is that the house could be used for a two-family residence, which would violate both zoning and our covenants. Mr. Mugdan reported that the Association asked the realtor to correct the advertisement, but the realtor refused to do so. The Association then filed complaints with Century 21’s main office (the realtor is a Century 21 franchise), the NY State Department of State (which licenses realtors), and the Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR). [A hearing before LIBOR has been scheduled for November 10.]
In addition, it was noted that a house on 39th Road has two mailboxes; the Association has complained through the City’s “3-1-1” phone number. Also, neighbors claim that a 44th Avenue residence is evidently housing 3 families, Mr. Mugdan advised the neighbors to continue to file complaints with the Building Department and Councilman Avella’s office. All assembled agreed that the Councilman is doing an excellent job and that he is very responsive to all of the problems facing his constituency.
It was reported that the local parks were essentially trouble-free this past summer and that the police have been very responsive in monitoring and handling any drug activities at those sites. Mr. Mugdan advised anyone interested in becoming a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) volunteer to see him for details of the program. The issue of speed bumps on Morgan Street was raised and the interested party was advised to start a petition to see if there was any interest among the neighbors; a member complaining of a frequently barking dog was advised to call “3-1-1”; a neon sign at a bait store on the corner of Morgan and Northern Boulevard will be investigated; and one of the members requested that non-compliance with the dog clean-up laws be addressed in a future meeting notice.
In closing, Mr. Mugdan advised that the Broadway/Flushing Homeowners Association has requested our help in dealing with a major fence violation in their area and that he has provided them with copies of the files from our similar lawsuit several years ago. The Westmoreland Association, he noted, has a well-earned reputation for being vigilant, knowledgeable, and professional in dealing with such matters and will continue on that course.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 pm.
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