BAR Gives Developer Approval to Build Towering Retaining Walls on Kingston Road Hill
BAR approves developers to build towering retaining walls on Kingston Road Hill
Real Estate Published: Tuesday March 09, 2021 12:13 PM Joanne Wallenstein
After a long struggle, the owner of a house on Brite Avenue in Greenacres has lost his campaign to prevent the construction of a series of tall retaining walls topped by fences on the hill behind his house. Realtor Mark Nadler has lived and worked in Scarsdale for years, but when a developer bought a house at 4 Kingston Road just above his home, he learned that the Scarsdale village does little to protect homeowners’ rights.
Nadler’s house at 171 Brite Avenue is at the bottom of a hill with a 40% slope that extends from the neighbor’s courtyard to their terrace. The slope is currently heavily covered with trees and bushes that hide the neighboring house and create a beautiful backdrop for its terrace.
However, a developer bought 4 Kingston, the longtime home of Scarsdale Bowl winner Jane Bedichek, and plans to expand the house, add a pool, and add to the shallow portion of the back yard by building retaining walls and backfilling the yard. Joseph Ciarletta of EJK 4 Kingston LLC bought the property in October 2019 for $ 1.15 million and plans to more than double the size of the home to build an 8,000 square foot home with a pool.
This is where the problem for Nadler comes into play. This series of retaining walls will span the entire hill, and some will be topped with fences. The primary retaining wall is 120 feet long and 12 feet from Nadler’s property line. Some of the walls are 16 and ½ feet high. The house will tower 57 inches above his house and be visible from all sides.
To stop the work, Nadler collected 750 signatures from neighbors protesting the project and appeared to have some success at a Board of Architectural Review meeting in January when they refused to approve the developer. Ciarletta re-submitted plans for the BAR meeting on March 1, 2021, relocating the pool to the uphill side of the property. However, he continued to expand the courtyard with the installation of high retaining walls on the hill.
This project was last on the BAR agenda and the discussion did not start until after 10 p.m. The chairman repeatedly urged everyone to be brief and did not give Nadler’s experts, whom he kept at his own expense, an opportunity to present their findings. Nadler says: “The chair did not allow my hired professionals to present the plans and show the changes made by the developer. The developer’s microphone was left open and he interrupted, contradicted and then called us “liars and manipulators” before threatening legal action. The BAR chairman did nothing to control this meeting and as a result, false information was allowed to be re-submitted in a farce of this approval process. The chairman appeared to be running out of patience or energy, and although several BAR members objected and requested conditions before the plan was approved, he requested a straw vote and then, knowing it would be approved, put it to the vote. where it went by. “(With 4-3 votes).
The village code that governs the BAR gives them the power to refuse permission for landscape plans. In detail it says:
Properties and suitability
When considering an application for a permit, the board takes into account the natural features of the site and the surrounding area, the exterior design and appearance of existing structures, as well as the character of the district and its particular suitability for specific purposes in order to preserve the values of property and promote the best appropriate use of land.
Reasons for approval
The board of directors may approve any referenced motion provided that it determines that it does not affect the appearance of the area, does not affect the use, enjoyment and attractiveness, and reduces the values of the properties in the area, the character of the The area does not affect the neighborhood, would not prevent the most appropriate development and use of the site or adjacent areas, and would not affect the functioning economic stability, prosperity, health, safety and general well-being of the entire community.
However, unlike Greenburgh and many neighboring villages, Scarsdale does not have any laws requiring special permission to build on steep slopes.
Nadler cannot appeal to the Board of Trustees against the BAR’s decision. If he wants to pursue this further, he must sue the village. Frustrated and angry, Nadler wrote the following letter to the mayor:
Before the BAR meeting in January, you assured me that if we spoke before the BAR meeting in January, we would get a fair hearing and present our information. Indeed, it did and the permit was not given. No such hearing was held last night and approval was given, despite the fact that the number of retaining walls increased, the length of the walls increased, and fences were put up over the walls!
Please see the tapping of the discussion on 4 Kingston Road that took place at the BAR meeting last night and explain why we did not have the same opportunity to present our information. The chair admonished us NOT to repeat ourselves as it was so late and prevented my experts from showing the plans the builder presented to us without retaining walls or destroying the slope. He asked BAR members to narrow their questions as it was late.
The client was allowed to have an open microphone during the entire meeting, kept interrupting the BAR members, my experts and I, threatened each other, called us “liars and manipulators” and was not checked at all.
I am outraged by the way this part of the meeting was carried out and the unfair result that was achieved despite the facts we prepared and presented (limited as we were) compared to the inconsistencies and misrepresentations of the Contributions submitted by the applicant. One example was the photos of the new “rock face” pointed out by a BAR member that did not match the description in the plan. The chair declined this and many other important parts of the discussion, such as that the landscape plan did not match the representations that the applicant showed of my backyard. These are the same types of misrepresentations that emerged at the June meeting that led to the project’s improper approval.
The chairman could not conduct or control this meeting at all, and although the retaining walls became longer and increased with fences over them (compared to what was presented in January) the vote was sped up 4: 3, despite the petitioner, and by 4 : 3 pushed Several members of the BAR asked that conditions for approval be created. The chairman must have decided he couldn’t let the session go any longer because it was after midnight, or he wanted to finish with 4 Kingston permanently.
The bar didn’t get it right last night and you can now add 4 Kingston Road to the growing list of construction projects that everyone is pointing to and saying, “How was that ever approved?”
Take a look at the recording and tell me if you disagree. Otherwise, I would like to hear how you are going to correct this situation.
With best regards,