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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On A Personal Note

This whole "suing the town" thing has been very stressful and taken quite a toll on me.  

My late mother taught me how to knit.  She was a nurse practitioner and swore that knitting released serotonin

I believe that.  Knitting this hat for my nephew has been incredibly therapeutic. I started on Sunday afternoon and have been knitting up a storm on my 50+ minute train ride in to the city.  I must look a bit curious knitting in a suit, but I've not been taunted once--yet.
Knitting: It's Like Riding A Bike; you never forget how to do it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Revisiting The Scene


Take note at 1 minute, 24 seconds into this video.  Please note whom the zoning board chairman, Mr. Gregg Bucci, asks what section of the code special use permits are outlined in [answer: section 300-30] when he gets frustrated with the facts I am presenting him; that would be Mr. Capellini. This, immediately after I told Mr. Bucci he was wrong and both he and the special counselor emphatically told me I had no idea what I was talking about.  I was the only one in the room with the current code.  Mr. Capellini knows what I'm talking about, right Al? 
  video
Considering the actual zoning chairman, Mr. Gordon Fine, cohabitates the same office with Mr. Capellini, it certainly raises an eyebrow.  Also how Mr. Bucci refers to Mr. Capellini as "Al" and when he isn't sure he asks him for guidance shows how comfortable their relationship is.  Of note: Messieurs Capellini, Fine and Bucci are all attorneys.  Global conspiracy? Doubtful.  Makes you wonder?  Sure does.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Parking Problem, Explained




The applicant is only providing 63 standard parking spaces.  Per code (4 people per space x 63 = 252 people).  The town allows some "stacking" [read: double/triple/quadruple parking within the proposed three parking lots] and the applicant claims they will provide 86 total spaces.  The applicant proposes 344 people to occupy the second floor; the also put forth the absurd proposition that the entire first floor will never be occupied if the 2nd floor is occupied.  Not only is that completely un-enforcable (the town won't enforce the code on the two homes the church illegally converted to suit their needs), but there is no code citation they can make to justify such a crazy deviation from established zoning law.


By all accounts, Site Design Consultants of Yorktown is a reputable engineering firm.  Their professional engineers represent many of the high profile developers in Yorktown.  Last year they did a six (6) week parking study of Faith Bible Church (images above and below) which was submitted to the zoning board attached to a sworn affidavit from pastor Zotolli.  What they found is that the special use the applicant is proposing can not provide the minimum code requirement (a ratio of 4 people to 1 parking space).  The best ratio the applicant provided during the study was 2.7 people per parking space; it fluctuated between 2.3 to 2.7 people per parking space.  At 2.7 people per parking space (what they can actually provide on their best day) only supports an occupant load of 170 people (63 spaces x 2.7 people per space).  Conveniently, that's the occupant load they have already illegally increased to.  That would seem to be the biggest church that could be supported by the parking limitations, if you are a fan of the truth.

Please note that the town only approved 100 occupants to be at this church "3 days a year, for 3 hours."  Considering how the church actually occupis the site, they are not only a danger to themselves (the town has no idea if 242 people can safely egress from the sanctuary), but to the small residential home owners associations that surround the church.  I pray nothing happens as the result of lax enforcement on the part of Yorktown!
I'm completely setting aside the fact--the cold hard fact--that the church has terms and conditions on the wetland parking lot that allows Shrub Oak Lake Estates (a neighboring home owners association) member the right to park "at all times" and "at no cost."  In fact the church is in violation of the terms and conditions of their deed by not posting that it is private parking for SOLE and FBC members.  All these inconvenient facts.


No one is saying the church can't be expanded, just that it has to be in keeping with the character of the neighborhood and have sufficient parking.  Yorktown is turning a blind eye to the fact that the church already expanded without any permits or approvals.  Now the church is claiming hardship.  The houses they illegally converted don't accommodate the growing congregation; ha!

If you ever decide to illegally convert your house to a use requiring a "special permit," you should shouldn't hesitate.  Do whatever you want without permits or approvals because Yorktown is either unwilling or unable to stop you,  as evidenced by the blind eye they turn to the applicants illegal conversions.  It should be noted that the applicant only recently (circa 2005, when they acquired title) illegally converted the red house on Sagamore  Trail.  Up until that act, it had been occupied (legally) as a single family home. 



Thursday, January 19, 2012

An Interesting Article

The Yonkers Tribune has an interesting article about my neighbor's proposed development.  You can read it here.

The Zoning Board of Appeals Got Served

It's official.  I confirmed it with the Westchester County Sheriff's office.  Phew, at least I won't get thrown out for a defective service.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Evan Daniel Bray v. Town of Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals

Gentle Reader,

I present to you, typos and all, my article 78 petition without commentary.  If you would like to see any of the exhibits, you can email me at YorktownCode@gmail.com and I will send you any exhibit you would like to see; most are already posted on this site.  The return date is Valentine's date (that's the earliest date the judge will render a decision).  Stay tuned:


To THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK FOR
COUNTY:
The petition of, EVAN DANIEL BRAY complaining of the Respondent,TOWN OF YORKTOWN ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS (ZBA) respectfully alleges:
1. Petitioner EVAN DANIEL BRAY owns and lives in a single family home with his wife, three daughters (all 5 years old or younger) at 3496 Mohegan Avenue, Mohegan Lake, New York 10547.  Petitioner has an architecture degree from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and has worked for over 10 years as a building code and zoning consultant.  Petitioner identified himself as such to the respondent at the public hearings.
2. Respondent TOWN OF YORKTOWN ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS  “acts as an interpreter of the town code and makes judgments on its meaning on specific cases, grants variances upon appeal, and authorizes the issuance of permits for special uses in districts in which such uses are permitted,” as the boards powers and duties are summarized on the Town of Yorktown website.  Refer to section 300-201 of Yorktown zoning ordinances, powers and duties of the board of appeals.

For The Record

I did not pick this fight. This fight picked me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thought Of The Day: Zoning Code Section 300-224(e)

Lake Mohegan (§ 300-224 — § 300-228) 

"It is a finding that the continued unregulated granting of lake access will significantly impact the lake environment and adversely impact the sensitive ecology of Lake Mohegan as well as the character of the Lake Mohegan neighborhood. Accordingly, the purpose of this article is to prevent any person from undertaking any new land use, development and/or subdivision of land that involves any shoreline of Lake Mohegan, except in compliance with the shoreline use and development restrictions outlined below..."

You can view the entire Town of Yorktown Code online, HERE.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I'm Blogging For The Patch

It's related to the issue I've dedicated this site to, but is a bit more general.  I'll be accepting zoning and code questions from readers and answering them weekly with my best, professional guess.  I do have an architecture degree from The Cooper Union For The Advancement of Science and Art and have practiced as a building code and zoning consultant in Manhattan for over 10 years, so I know a thing or two about the issues. 

I hope you can follow along.  Here's a link to my first post.

Friday, January 13, 2012

January 23rd, 2012, 7PM

As expected, Faith Bible Church's application will be in a working session with the Yorktown Planning Board on Monday, January 23rd.  Don't bother turning out because they won't let you speak; do feel free to write the planning board with your concerns though.

As soon as the application goes (sails?) through the Planning Board, they have permits, so it's crunch time. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Little Backround On The Issue At Hand

Today I [technically not "I"] served an article 78 petition in New York State Supreme Court against the Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA); I am the petitioner.  I'm doing it "pro se (pro-say)," meaning without an attorney.  I'm going to document it for you, gentle reader, so that if--in the future--you find yourself in similar situation, you can save yourself a bit of time researching what recourse you may have if you disagree with a decision the ZBA makes.  This assumes you can't afford a preeminent attorney to represent you in the matter and have to do the leg work yourself.  Harrumph.  

The whole process is a bit opaque, but I'll do my best to make it clear.  What is clear is that the odds are decidedly stacked against me.  However, I'd like to note that I was born and raised in south central Colorado; Colorado state law mandates all children born in the state become devout Broncos fans (that is an NFL team, for those not in-the-know).  Our current quarterback--Tim Tebow--has proven that even when people say you can't--when they say things like "Tim Tebow couldn't beat an egg with that arm," or  "you're screwed, you're not an attorney; you'll get thrown out of court on some dumb technicality before a judge ever hears it"--I say there might be hope.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

File Under: Half The Battle, Knowing Is

"With respect to governmental subdivisions, additional service is to be made only when the respondent is a former member of a body of such a subdivision. See CPLR 7802(b). The reason for notice to the governmental entity in such cases is that a former official may be less than zealous in defending the public interest. See Practice Commentaries on CPLR 7802, at C7802:2, supra. CPLR 7804(c) refers the reader to CPLR 311 for the method of service on the governmental subdivision." 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Too Legit To Quit

Wow. So, I formally filed my first lawsuit today. It's against the Town of Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals and it challenges 3 of the 4 variances the ZBA approved for Faith Bible Church. I still have to serve the board; well, technically, because I'm party to the proceeding, I can't do it myself. It looks like I'm going to have to have my wife do it as she's the only other one in the house over 18 not party to the action (I'm accepting volunteers in the comment section, below). Once the zoning board of appeals has been formally served, I'll put the whole thing up on this website; it wouldn't be fair to give them a head-start, right? In other news, I wanted to mention that I have accepted an offer to opine on this subject for a local website. More on that very soon.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

This Is A Public. Service. Announcement. (with guitar)

If a resident of Yorktown, NY, directed their attention to the Town of Yorktown governmental    website, and specifically looked at the department of Building page, they would see this:


If said resident then scrolled down that page, they would see the following description of the powers and duties of the ZBA.


"The Zoning Board of Appeals acts as an interpreter of the town code and makes judgments on its meaning on specific cases, grants variances upon appeal, and authorizes the issuance of permits for special uses in districts in which such uses are permitted."




Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year

Above: A reader's comment on Jack Kahn's letter to the ZBA.




Gentle reader:

The new year brings us many new and exciting opportunities to present our concerns with the proposed new development heard with the town.  It's important that we leave both verbal and written comments on the public record regarding all of the concerns we have; from parking to environmental; from the quality of life considerations to the detrimental impact on the character of the neighborhood and its unique steep slopes.  Did I mention parking concerns?

Mr. Strachan brings up some interesting points.  Additionally, it is important to note that Shrub Oak Lake Estates (SOLE) still retains ownership of the wetland parking area via permanent easement recorded in the deed conveyed to Faith Bible Church.  I'm to lazy to expound on it in this post, but it's true. 

The deadline for filing an article 78 petition challenging the Yorktown Zoning Board of Appeals' decision approval of the zoning variances are fast approaching.  If legal action is taken, the required documents will most likely be filed this week.