Mohegan Lake Legal Defense Fund

History of this site

This site was originally set up to fight 3 of 5 zoning variances proposed by the FBC development at Sagamore Trail and Mohegan Ave that eliminates two single family homes while nearly quadrupling the parking and occupancy loads of the old Lakeland Jewish Center. That effort failed and the application is currently before the Planning Board.

While Save Mohegan Lake will continue to update you on that issue, we are moving on to all issues affecting the lake, such as Mohegan Lake Improvement District (MLID) meetings, agenda and budget. This site is not an official mouthpiece for MLID, but some updates will be provided on this site; the official site is located here.

We do it all here, so long as it's Mohegan Lake related. Feel free to submit comments, content, garage sale notices, police blotters, PSA's, essays on the virtues of our 105 acre ice rink, rants, raves, etc... We love it all.

Email: YorktownCode@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Letter To The Zoning Board From A Long-Time Mohegan Lake Resident

I present the following, which was submitted to the ZBA objecting to zoning variances, from a supporter who is intimately familiar with the character of our neighborhood.  Other than noting that some of the text is oddly formatted because of technical reasons on my end; the substance remains unchanged. I present it without commentary:

When I was 8 years old in 1947, my aunt and uncle bought a little summer house in the residential
community known as Shrub Oak Lake Estates, in the northern area of Lake Mohegan. So my parents,
brother, and I were frequent visitors to Lake Mohegan during the summer months in the late 1940s. In
1950, when I was 11 years old, my parents rented a house down the road from my aunt and uncle's
house for the month of August; and the following year, 1951, when I was 12, my parents purchased the summer house across the street from where we had rented the previous summer. Since 1950, I have spent portions of every summer in the midst of the bucolic eden that is known as Lake Mohegan. If we count my introduction to Lake Mohegan from 1947, that means that I have been acquainted with Lake Mohegan for the past 64 years. So if anyone dares to question my claim to expertise on the subject of Mohegan Lake, I defy them to match my record of 64 years worth of intimate knowledge of the territory. That's 64 years worth of association. I repeat, 64 years. And I am now 72.



 (click on the "read more" button below to continue)






Now let me share some insights into the history of the property on which the Faith Bible Church wants to
build an expanded house of worship on the northern end of Mohegan Lake, at the intersection of
Mohegan Avenue and Sagamore Avenue (which, incidentally, was known by the decidedly rural name of
Sagamore Trail back in the days of my youth).

In 1962, some residents (or householders), who were some of the respected elders living in the three
residential communities that surround the property in question, got together and formed a single
organization to pool their resources and build the Lakeland Jewish Center at the intersection of Mohegan
Avenue and Sagamore Trail (on the site of the property in question), for the purpose of holding religious
services in a community-wide house of worship rather than in several private homes. The membership in
the Lakeland Jewish Center mostly lived in those three surrounding residential communities, which were:
Shrub Oak Lake Estates, the Mohegan Highlands, and the Mohegan Gardens.

An architect's rendering of the proposed Lakeland Jewish Center, dated April 30th, 1962, (the architect's
name being Albert Orthman), stipulates a daily allowable occupancy of 15 to 25 persons (for daily
services); a maximum allowable occupancy of 100 persons three times a year (for the Jewish High Holy
Days); and a maximum allowable occupancy of 100 persons for monthly celebrations and dinners. That's
15 days out of a whole year when the maximum allowable occupancy reached the grand total of 100
persons. The projected number of parking spaces for this modest facility was 23 (based on the
calculation that each automobile would carry a family of 5 persons--5x20=100).

As the three surrounding communities flourished as summer communities (each community oriented
towards owning a beach on the Lake for the use of its own residents for their summer season enjoyment)
so did the Lakeland Jewish Center flourish, but only for awhile. People grew old and some died off.

Children moved away in search of more glamorous summer playgrounds, Eventually fewer people were
attending services at the house of worship that, once upon a time, had connected the residents of a
combined potential community of more than 300 residential dwellings. As the years went by, the three
residential communities matured into the all-year-round suburban communities we see today, and the
Lakeland Jewish Center is no more.

In order to provide you with the proper frame of reference, let me tell you about my own experience
living in the community know as Shrub Oak Lake Estates. The glue that held the community together was
a feeling of good neighborliness. Nobody had to prove that he or she was a good neighbor, we all just
acted as good neighbors to each other, which just came naturally to us. One of our neighbors, Dr. Milton
Lipitz (and his wife, Jan), were good neighbors extraordinaire, above and beyond what anyone would
expect from a neighbor. Once a week, usually Friday, they would invite the entire community up to their
backyard, where we would all watch a movie out of doors. When the movie was over, all the families
would pile into their respective cars and head for Peekskill, to the New Marathon Restaurant, where we
would all order ice cream desserts, sometimes with waffles. More often than not, not content with
already being a good neighbor, Doc Lipitz would pick up the check for everybody. Those were good times.

Daytimes, especially Saturday and Sunday, there were so many community residents going down to the
Lake, that there weren't enough parking spaces at the Shrub Oak Lake Estates Beach Association's
parking facilities. There was only room for a little more than 20 cars to park in the spaces available. Cars
from our community ended up lining Mohegan Avenue, causing congestion and a slowdown of traffic on
this thoroughfare that was vital to the comfort and mobility of our neighbors in the Mohegan Highlands
and the Mohegan Gardens. This was not a very neighborly thing to impose on our neighbors from the
other communities. The solution that Shrub Oak Lake Estates arrived at was to purchase a parcel of land
at the intersection of Mohegan Avenue and Sagamore Trail on the edge of the wetlands, right across
Sagamore from the Lakeland Jewish Center, to utilize for parking the overflow of vehicles from the Shrub
Oak Lake Estates Beach. This is an example of an entire community acting as good neighbors.

Once the Lakeland Jewish Center became established, in their infinite wisdom, the Board of Directors of
Shrub Oak Lake Estates Beach Association decided (since most of the members of the Jewish Center
lived in the local three communities), to deed the parking lot across the street from the Jewish Center
over to the Lakeland Jewish Center, but on two conditions: 1) that members of the Shrub Oak Lake
Estates Beach Association were always welcome to park their automobiles in that parking lot; and 2) that
the house of worship could retain possession of the parking facility only so long as the members of that
house of worship were predominantly residents from the surrounding local residential communities who
used the parking lot. The legal mechanism used to execute this transfer must have been what is called
a "Life Estate," which must have been written into the deed, with the Lakeland Jewish Center being
considered a "life tenant." THIS RENDERS THE OWNERSHIP OF THIS PROPERTY THAT IS NOW BEING
CLAIMED BY THE Faith Bible Church TO BE QUESTIONABLE.

When the Lakeland Jewish Center became unsustainable as a house of worship, its Board of Directors
rented the facility out to the Faith Bible Church in 1994. A little later on in time, the Lakeland Jewish
Center's Board of Directors donated the property to the First Hebrew Congregation of Peekskill, with the
Faith Bible Church remaining as tenant. To make a long story short, the First Hebrew Congregation of
Peekskill ended up selling the property to the Faith Bible Church in 2005.

That's the history of this piece of property whose owners are now seeking variances to expand its
facilities.

Now let's take a look at the implications these proposed changes represent..

What we have here is a physical geographical location that is situated at the gateway to a quiet, modest,
stable, unassuming local suburban residential community, consisting of three distinct residential
neighborhoods.

The original house of worship that was built on this site was built in order to serve those members of the
surrounding local residential community having a common religious background. Whatever variances
were required, were authorized by the Town of Yorktown because the scale of the building did not
disturb the overall nature of the surrounding residential community. The number of people authorized by
the Town of Yorktown to use this religious facility was limited to a maximum number of 100 people, who
would use the facility on only 15 days of an entire year, with a daily maximum number of users limited to
30 people. The number of parking spaces was limited to 23, to serve the automobiles used by the local
people who came to use their religious facility. This represents a relationship between the membership of
the house of worship and their neighbors in the local residential community that the local residential
community could accept and live with in harmony alongside their neighbors who participated in the
activities of the house of worship. The scale of the physical facility and the limited number of people
using it, and the authorized number of parking spaces did not violate, or infringe upon the bounds of
good neighborliness which holds a community together.

What we have here in the establishment of the Lakeland Jewish Center is a blueprint, authorized by the
Town of Yorktown in 1962, establishing a set of standards for the use and occupation of this particular
piece of property by a house of worship that would not disturb the nature of the local residential
community; by limiting the physical scale of the facility, by limiting the number of people using that
facility, and by limiting the number of parking spaces to be used on the property by the local members of
the surrounding community using the facility.

Fast forward to the present time. What we have now is a house of worship that boasts a weekly average
Sunday membership of 160-170 people (which violates the original standard of maximum authorized
capacity of 100 people), with a projected attendance of more than 200 congregants on holidays.

Furthermore, what we have now is a house of worship serving a membership whose members are alien
to the indigenous surrounding local residential community. They come from outside the local
neighborhoods (one of the understandings responsible for the Town of Yorktown's original authorization
was that the property would be used by local neighbors. If a group of outsiders was seeking to build on
this property, the Town of Yorktown would not have approved construction). This is an invasion from
outside the local community that represents a subtle process to colonize the territory of a stable local
populace.

As for parking spaces, the legal authorization established by the Town of Yorktown is 23. On the Sunday
morning of September 18, 2011, at 11:30 a.m., I took a walk down to the Lake and counted a total of 83
cars parked there, including 8 cars overflowing their facility, and trespassing on the parking facility of
Shrub Oak Lake Estates Beach Association, down the road apiece. I can tell you that, having spoken to
some of my neighbors, these cars are not welcome on our parking facility. There are signs posted. One
says: Mohegan Lake is a private lake for use by members only. Trespassers will be
prosecuted. Another one says: SHRUB OAK LAKE ESTATES Private Beach Assn. MEMBERS
ONLY. NO TRESPASSING. and a third one says: NO PARKING. PRIVATE BEACH. MEMBERS
ONLY.

What kind of good neighbors can the Faith Bible Church actually be to the residential community that it
has embedded itself into if it brazenly overflows its membership and its automobiles, as it currently does,
already violating the limits originally established by the Town of Yorktown for the property it presently
occupies. What kind of good neighbors will the Faith Bible Church become if the Town of Yorktown
approves its plans for expansion, actually multiplying, not just adding to, the number of people and the
number of automobiles invading a residential community. Their new expectation is for between 400 and
700 people to use the facility at any given time. How many cars do you think they will need to
accommodate after multiplying attendance by so much?

It would be an act of madness to approve their expansion plans.

What we have here is a predatory alien commercial enterprise masquerading as a simple country
church, affiliated with, and probably being financed by an international conglomerate (the International
Fellowship of Christian Assemblies), embedding itself, like a metastasizing social form of cancer, into the
heart of an unsuspecting residential community, sucking a large portion of the oxygen from the sovereign
social space of the local populace, by attempting to force its own special brand of social obesity down the
throats of this unsuspecting local residential community that has managed to retain, up 'til now, its rural
character, in the face of the daemonic threat of urbanization. They must be denied the opportunity to
deface my neighborhood with this obscene expansion beyond the bounds that the property can handle
gracefully.

Best regards,

Jack Kahn

1 comment:

Glenn Strachan said...

Incredibly well written and precise statement of the history of this property. Unfortunately it does not seem to matter to the powers that be, the local politicos, who always seem to get what they want despite the facts.

This is more than a NIMBY situation. If they want overflow parking rent it from the childcare facility on the other side of the lake. As someone who walks to the lake virtually everyday I am in town, there is no way that the intersection and parking lot will NOT create a public nuisance.

Sadly so!