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.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Early Christmas on Mohegan Lake

The 2014, Second Annual Mohegan Lake Ice Fishing Derby and Skating Extravaganza is upon us.  I got a few laps in with my father, who is visiting yesterday.  Remember to have some idea what you are doing, take care and use the buddy system.  Weather looks like it won't be safe for the next week, but this--as the subject alludes to--was an early Christmas present. 

Rejoice and make an offering to the gods of cold, cold weather. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Zoning Board of Appeals Hearing 12/12/2013

It's important to note that the ZBA will likely be taking action on the Faith Bible application this week.  The application has been closed for about 3 months or so, but still no decision after two meetings.  It will be exciting to hear from former building inspector and current ZBA member, William Gregory. 

Expect a quick turnaround approved zoning variances Thursday and a Planning Board meeting on December 23rd (I know, right, shouldn't they postpone that meeting in observance of the Christmas holiday?).

One reason it is believed that the application has been closed for so long with no decision (very rare)  is the applicant's grossly deficient SEQR application; a small sampling of our objections are at the bottom of this link.

Substantive Compliance
Aldrich v. Pattison 107 AD2d 258 (2d Dept 1985)
Where the question is the adequacy or content of the environmental review conducted, rather than whether the right steps were followed, agencies need to substantially comply with both the letter and spirit of the law. Where an agency has made a reasoned decision on a thorough record, the court will not substitute its judgment, but will allow the agency to exercise some discretion. See also Jackson v. UDC 67 NY2d 400 (1986).

Mmmmmm...uncoordinated review: so meaty. It looks like we may be blessed this year to have a long and spirited Christmas Eve-Eve in front of the Planning Board.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Update on the Faith Bible Church Zoning Variance Application

It would be highly peculiar if the Zoning Board doesn't approve all of the requested variances tomorrow night, 10/24/13.  I was shocked they didn't last time. 

To bring you up to speed on the latest, I present my written comments to the Zoning Board from August.  I like to think it had something to do with their thoughtful deliberation of the application and their surprising postponement of their decision.

Dear Zoning Board Members,

Thank you for your continued diligence reviewing the instant variance applications.  I will continue to thoroughly examine, in my professional capacity, the instant application in attempt to vet it for full compliance and conformance with all applicable laws.  It is my hope that I can save the applicant, town, and myself additional time that will be required if all the “I”s are not dotted and “T”s crossed.  Faith Bible Church (FBC)  is on their 4th ZBA application in 3 years; I think all parties agree that we don’t want to be before the board on this matter, ever again.  

Tomorrow, 10/24/13 MLID Meeting

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A message from the Mohegan Lake Improvement District:

Our monthly meeting for October is this Thursday October 24 at 8:00 P.M. at the Mohegan Colony schoolhouse kitchen at 99 Baron de Hirsch Road in Crompond.  Hope you can make it.     
We had a great budget meeting last month and have some great works in progress to improve the health of the lake. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Yorktown Candidate Debates: 10/10/13 in Mohegan Lake

Gentle reader,

I'd like to share with you the following email from Yorktown Smart Growth/Green Yorktown. They are sponsoring a Yorktown candidates debate with a focus on local envirionmental issues.  I'd recommend attending or, if you can't make it, posing questions in writing to the candidates.  Details below:
Hi All
Just a quick reminder and update about the upcoming Candidate's Debate on the Environment and Smarter Development with the Town Council candidates on Thursday night October 10th 7:30 pm at the Unitarian Church on Strawberry Rd, Mohegan Lake, NY.

The candidates have been given a list of topics and some typical questions in the form of a questionnaire, similiar to the one we used in 2011.  The purpose of this debate is to give the candidates an opportunity to present an informed position on the issues in our town today and discuss their environmental philosophies in a public and fair manner.  To that end, Ann Kutter will be co-moderating with me. I am very glad to have her smart and savvy help on this.

The topics include:
Climate Change and Environmental Standards
Habitat, Wetlands, and Open Space
Role of Government  and Smart Development 
StormWater, Water , Air Pollution
Regional Environmental Issues
Current Issues Facing the Town

We have been assembling our questions for the candidates.  I had asked for input from both GreenYorktown and YorktownSmartGrowth earlier in the summer for this (thank you to those who contributed)  and now is your last chance to throw in another idea.  Please use my personal email ( so that others in the a google groups don't have to weed through lots of email clutter. Also, remember that you will get a chance to write your question down anonymously or authored at the debate on an index card and it will be asked during the Q&A.  We will NOT take questions from the audience as this could turn into shouting matches or personal attacks and that will not be tolerated.  This is a non partisan debate.  Please invite your friends and neighbors and hope to see you there!

Thank you so much for your participation in these important topics vital to our community.
Patty Peckham
co-chair GreenYorktown
board member, YorktownSmartGrowth

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wowzer: "It's a procedural issue"

I really didn't expect this.  I skipped what I thought would be a Zoning Board of Appeals rubber stamp to attend the most important meeting of the year.  That didn't happen.   Much more analysis of the ZBA hearing to come. You are encouraged to watch the whole thing. The FBC hearing starts at about the 8:40pm mark during the hearing.  They deliberate for over an hour.  And actually suggest that perhaps the proposal should be scaled back a bit.  Surprisingly reasoning has slowly started to emerge.  I take back all those mean things I said about the ZBA. 

I'm truly at a loss of words.  The first minute of the hearing confirmed that I'm not (totally) crazy.  Let's go to the video tape:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mohegan Lake Improvement District Meeting 9/26/13 @7:30pm

A message from MLID:

We have an important MLID meeting tomorrow night Thursday 9/26.  This is when we decide our next year's activities to address the problems of the lake, and submit our budget proposal to the Town.  Everyone's input is welcome.  We will be in the Mohegan Colony schoolhouse kitchen at 99 Baron de Hirsch Road in Crompond at 7:30 P.M.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Winery Is Officially Parking on Town Land

No one really cares, but I think we--the taxpayers--should at least be receiving some rent.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Faith Bible Zoning Board Public Hearing 8/8/13 @ 6:30pm

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The meeting will be at town hall.  There's a lot of new information.  In fact 2 new variances were just discovered today that will require the application to be amended.  My goodness, if I were the church, I would sue the crap out of my design team for missing so many obvious variance requirements.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mohegan Colony Has a Storytelling and Music Festival

 Welcome news to me.  I'm very excited; sad I missed the last 12 years though:(  They have an amazing pavillion.  Not to mention two clay tennis courts (have to be a member to use them though).

The 13th ANNUAL MOHEGAN COLONY STORYTELLING & MUSIC FESTIVAL will present an one hour Sneak Peek on FRIDAY, AUGUST 9 at 7:30 pm at EMBARK@EMC located on 925 South St (First Floor) in Peekskill. Reservations recommended: - only 75 seats! FREE for Children 12 & under.  Suggested Donation per Person: $5.

And the ALL DAY FESTIVAL will take place on SATURDAY, AUGUST 10 from 10 am - 10 pm at Mohegan Colony's Pavillion located at 99 Baron De Hirsch Rd, Crompond, NY (off Lexington Ave).  Ticket price including Free Parking: for Adults is $20 for all day and night; children $5; Adults $15 for just day, child $3.00; Adults: $10 for "Twilight Tales/Ghost Stories," Child. $3. Twenty ($20) for morning workshop. Reservations for all segments of the festival are recommended.  Family and Home School rates.
For Information, reservations or to volunteer, contact Ellen Monten: 914-528-5830; jmonten@optonline.netor Judith Heineman: 312-925-0439;; Website:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Most Important Mohegan Lake Improvement District Meeting, Ever: 8/1/13

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From our fearless MLID leader, Ken Belfer:

The Mohegan Lake Improvement District will be meeting this Thursday night August 1st at 7:30 P.M. in the kitchen of the Mohegan Colony Schoolhouse at 99 Baron de Hirsch Road in Crompond.  We will be discussing the state of the lake, and particularly the County and State Health Department's position on what triggers closing of a beach or the lake as a whole to swimming.  We will also be reviewing the remaining activities for the year to address water quality, and planning for next year's permit application to apply Alum to the lake.  We would like to hear from as many residents and beaches around the lake as possible, to help set our priorities.  Hope to see you there!

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

If you're not up to speed on Mohegan Lake's residential community's struggle to reign in the massive new development proposed for Faith Bible Church, you can get some background information here. 

We're not against the church and don't oppose the use, it's a practical opposition to the site's deficiencies relative to the proposed enlarged occupant load.  Specifically that they have already enlarged the church, illegally, and seem to have done so to the limits of the area they can adequately provide legal parking spaces for.

At the last public hearing in May for variances the church is seeking, I correctly noted that the building inspector had unequivocally noted that the two residences they church owns were converted to church use without approval or permit.  

After nearly 5 years the Faith Bible application has been before both the planning and zoning boards, the church and their attorney--Al Capellini--have never contested the documents in the planning and zoning files that clearly demonstrate that they have already enlarged the legal occupancy and parking exponentially.  The building inspector's memo in both board files correctly notes that the church has already enlarged "without approval or permit," which is a nice way of saying illegally.

But wait! Acting chairman of the zoning board Gregg Bucci (because the actual chairman of the board has to recuse himself because he has a "counsel relationship" with--wait for it...--Al Capellini) has an argument to make for the applicant.  Just because there is no "record" of an application, approval or permit for the change to church use and increase the parking load since 2005, when the applicant took title of the premises, that doesn't mean the records weren't lost or stolen or misplaced. 

Dear reader, the video below is not theater of the absurd.  This is our Zoning Board of Appeals in action.  According to Mr. Bucci's reasoning, your neighbor can legitimately--it would seem--claim that they didn't illegal convert or build the structure next to your house.  The problem is that the approval and permit was lost, or stolen, or misplaced.  The onus of proof of existing occupancy, use and parking conditions is not placed on the applicant; Yorktown places the onus on neighbors of the applicant to prove that Yorktown records are complete?  The landowner making application and the planning department, planning and zoning boards can just invent their own narrative--arbitrarily?!

Last note: at the end of the video, please note that I literally LOL at Mr. Bucci's assertion that perhaps they didn't do it illegally.  Perhaps I stole the records and perhaps there's no collective memory of any such conversion in the neighborhood and perhaps Yorktown governmental records.  Perhaps.

I encourage you to watch the whole hearing (a couple hours) on TV.  This link is the schedule and the ZBA hearing will be replayed until 8/8/13

Be afraid.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Don't forget that Lake Day is This Sunday!

Click here for the schedule and map.

Here's a video of our weed harvester in action last Monday.  Thanks to our lake manager, Wayne, for nursing her back to health.  Glad to see her doing work again.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mohegan Lake Day 2013

Sunday July 14 will be that time of year again when we celebrate one of Yorktown's natural treasures: Mohegan Lake.  Below is the the official Mohegan Lake Improvement District press release and schedule; attached is a map of our Lake's beaches.  There will be lots of fun, family activities, food, drink and informative presentations all day long.  Oh yeah, and boat races; a regatta if you will.

Rock Hill Park (Holland Sporting Club) – Horton Road

9:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. Volunteer trail work led by Walt Daniels

Section 1 Beach (Mohegan West) -3250 Lakefront Ave.

12:30 P.M. – 2:30 P.M. Registration / Boat Races

1:00-Rowboats, 1:20-Canoes,1:40-Kayaks, 2:00-Sailboats

Note: Personal Flotation Devices mandatory for all racers

Mohegan Highlands Property Owners Association

- right on the curve going up hill on Mohegan Avenue

2:30 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. Presentation: Yorktown Walking Trails

(Including hiking trails near Mohegan Lake) by Jane Daniels

Mohegan Beach Park - Lakeshore at Christine

3:30 P.M. – 4:00 P.M. Presentation: Water Quality Testing in Lake

 by Randall Duggan

Amazon Beach - Wenonah Trail

4:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M. Beach Games, Meet Your Mohegan Neighbors

Mohegan Colony Beach – Parking lot at end of Oak/High Streets

5:00 P.M. Pot Luck Dinner – Bring dish to share

6:00 P.M. on Music

7:30 P.M. Secret Life of Plants in Mohegan Lake (what is that stuff?)

8:30 P.M. Video on Beavers by a nature cinematographer

8:45 P.M. Chinese Floating Lanterns on the lake

9:00 P.M. Movie (to be announced) on the handball court – suitable for
both adults and kids. (Bring your own chairs, popcorn)

Sponsored by Mohegan Lake Improvement District

Rain Date:  Sunday, July 21, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

Simultaneous Ocupancy: "It's for a growth pattern."

There was a lot of new information at the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting for Faith Bible Church on 6/27.  There were some amazing revelations too.  For example: I'm not crazy.  I've been jumping up and down, screaming that it's incredibly wrong  for the Planning Board to consider the ENTIRE first floor of the new church as "non simultaneous occupancy."    It's literally a made up concept; they can't cite any reference to it in our code or zoning, yet the town has been entertaining it.

I recommend that you try and catch a rerun of the hearing.  It is repeated on channel 20 Cablevision until the next hearing on 8/8/13;  the video is clocked and the hearing runs approximately 8:15pm to 10:15pm (note: ZBA meetings are replayed at various times throughout the day, not just at that time).

To begin my commentary on the last zoning meeting meeting, I present to you a segment of reverend Zotolli explaining the occupancy of the proposed church.  He clearly states that the occupancy of the 2nd floor sanctuary, of up to 344 people, would be simultaneous with the 1st floor children's church program.  There's nothing wrong with that, except that for years they have been arguing, on signed and sealed documents, that the 1st and 2nd floor would be "non-simultaneous occupancy."

That's a big deal because it proves the applicant's willingness to bend the law and make false statements.  

The stated goal of the new development is enlargement.  The land simply can't sustain the parking required for the proposal.  For the record: Lakeland Jewish Center moved on and built nearby in a Commercial zone with tons of parking and a smaller occupant load than Faith Bible is proposing.  Just make it smaller if you want to use this site. Why not look at the 5 acres across from the winery; for sale, off route 6 and in a residential zone?

Unfortunately, things can never be that simple. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

ZBA Public Hearing for Faith Bible Church: Part 4

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There will be Zoning Board of Appeals Public hearing in 2 days for the subject application; that's June 27th, 2013 at 6:30pm in the meeting room at Yorktown Town Hall.  You are advised to show up 15 minutes early, if you want to attend.  As always, if you can't make the meeting--you can watch it live on Cablevision channel 20..

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rescue Me!

I rescued 3 kittens off of Mohegan Avenue.  I couldn't round up the mother and one other kitten and pray they don't end up roadkill.  You may see them playing near the guard rail on Mohegan Ave at the north side of the lake; it makes the ridiculous speeds some people travel down our main drag that much scarier.  I am loathe to put them in a shelter since they are soooooooo adorable, but will if we can't find homes for them.  They seem to be a few weeks old.   They are all black with white socks a mark or two on their faces.  They are all very personable and poop and pee in a litter box.  Do you want one or know someone who might?  Please get in touch with me asap:

Please excuse the the blurry photos, playful kittens are playful and won't sit still.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Big Tree Falls Down

Man Tree Down.  A big tree fell into the lake on Shrub Oak Lake Estates beach during the monsoon rains we got last week.

Snapping or Painted Turtle?

Found this gal trying to lay some eggs about a foot off of the road next to a retaining wall and placed in a safer spot.  I hope I didn't screw up the circle of life.  It's that time of year, so drive slow and keep an eye out for turtles on the road.

I thought it was a snapping turtle, but a friend says it may actually be a painted turtle.  Do you know?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

MLID Meeting 6/20/13

A message from the MLID president:

The Mohegan Lake Improvement District is meeting this Thursday June 20th at 7:30 P.M. at the Mohegan Colony schoolhouse at 99 Baron de Hirsch Road in Crompond.  We will be meeting in the kitchen.  We will be finalizing the plans and schedule for Lake Day Sunday July 14th, discussing the work our summer staff are doing around the lake, making decisions on use of some lake management consultants, and checking in on the "state of the lake." 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sunday Brunch at the Brays (feat. continuously blaring car alarm)

This video was taken from my front porch last Sunday morning; newborn child in my arms (you can hear her at the end of the video).  You can see my bedroom window (open) and behind the lush screen of trees sits one of the Faith Bible Church parking lots where they triple and quadruple park cars; the town uses the euphemism "stacking" to describe this eyesore and hazard.  The video was cut short because my phone ran out of memory.  All told this went on for 5 minutes.  There are a few things that are troubling about this situation:

  1. There are so many cars parked illegally that it takes 5 minutes for the 200 person church to figure out who's car it is and turn it off.
  2. The lush screen of trees, under the proposed new development, will be cut down and a chain link fence installed.  Chain link fence instead of a screen of tress.  My god, how much more value can my house lose? 
  3. The town refuses to enforce existing laws in spite of years (literally) of written complaints.

I really, really wish Yorktown would start being more friendly and supportive of residents and quit letting developers run roughshod over this town.  It's not only a quality of life issue, it's a public hazard and devalues all homes in the area.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Faith Bible Church Is Back At The Zoning Board 6/27/2013

I'm experiencing, first hand, Yorktown's building and zoning machine in action.  My neighbor is trying to parlay a very small house of worship and two legal single family homes (per building department and tax assessor records the houses were illegally converted) into a huge church.  I love the church and would love to see them upgrade their facilities, but we need to be realistic about the occupant and parking loads the site can support.
The church's attorney has opened their 4th Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) application which will be heard publicly on Thursday June 27th, 2013 at Town Hall at 6:30pm.  The Planning Board--who has been hearing the application for more than 4 years[!!!]--sent the applicant back to the ZBA at my prodding. The chronology of the 4 zoning variances breaks down as follows:
  1. Application #1: Instead of notifying all of the "interested parties" to the planning board application, the applicant only notifies 2 homeowners of the  required zoning variances (6 households were notified of the planning app).  I showed up to the first ZBA hearing, raised numerous, valid and serious questions.  ZBA closed the hearing and approved the variances.  I advised the town attorney (representative of the board) that the ZBA should rescind the variance approvals for various reasons.  The ZBA rescinded their approval.
  2. Application #2:  In spite of overwhelming public opposition (oral and written), and in light of the gross and factual parking deficiencies, the ZBA approved the zoning variances. They told me specifically that my concerns about parking would be addressed at the planning board.  As luck would have it, we're back at the zoning board to address--among other serious issues--PARKING!  Literally.  [note: I sued--pro se--and lost, not on merits, but because I didn't notice the church, even though I was challenging the ZBA's determination].
  3. Application #3:  I notify the Planning Board that the applicant has overlooked two major variances regarding parking prohibitions in front yards in residential districts (makes sense), and a miscalculated the required front yard (honest oversights by the town's most prominent attorney and engineer--I'm sure). The Planning Board correctly directs the applicant to notify 2 adjacent home owners associations, a park district and the Mohegan Lake Improvement District who were not party to the original planning application in 2009.   The applicant hastily makes application to get on the ZBA agenda for April 2013 (they only meet once a month).  Applicant withdraws the application, voluntarily because there are still glaring deficiencies.
  4. Application #4:   I won't start picking apart the wild, siding interpretations the applicant's attorney is trying to sell the ZBA in this space; I'll save that for the public hearing, 6/27/13.
I made an unsucessful bid to garner the endorsement of the Democratic party for 1 of the 2 open town board seats in the upcoming election based on my love of Yorktown, education and career. 
My day job is consulting on zoning and building code matters for the City's most prominent building owners, engineers and architects.  If I'm having a hard time understanding and navigating Yorktown's planning, zoning and building departments, then I feel for the average homeowner.  It shouldn't be this hard.  Please keep me in mind if you want substantive change in these areas of government. 
Free zoning and building code consultations at

Thursday, June 6, 2013

6.6.13:MLID Meeting Notes

I'll aim to bring you full, proper notes of all meetings going forward.  Here are abridged, unofficial notes:

Mohegan Lake day will be on July 14th, 2013.  Save the Date.  Details of all activities to follow shortly.  Remember what a good time we had last year.  This year will be on par.

We love our beavers.  They do pose a problem.  Mohegan Ave is constantly flooded and it's too much maintenance for the town to keep up with.  There's a reason people say "busy as a beaver."  These cute little critters are industrious; they are making an amazing comeback all around the region (we should welcome it since our fore bearers nearly extincted them).

We are opening discussions with the town.  Aiming for a bridge over Mohegan Avenue because that's the real (and natural) solution.  Wetlands are supposed to regulate the level of the lake.  It's supposed to flow back and forth. Mohegan Ave never should have been built as it is because it completely blocks that natural flow of the lake to the wetlands and vice-versa.  The real solution is that the Army Corp of Engineers redesigns it.  In the meantime, we'll do our best with our able bodied Highway Department. 

Lake health is not awesome, but water quality is still fully swimmable--as of today.  Many factors contribute to water quality, but one problem is invasive plant species.  The kind that live under water, like water chestnuts and curly leaf pondweed.

Our weed harvester was bought new in 1984.  I was 6 years old then, now 35 with 4 daughters.  It's a machine and is basically kaput.  We have a decent budget, about $96,000 a year, but a new harvester is about 100K.  We'd have to bond it.  Going to be done as it's a necessity, not happening this year.
Wayne--our lake manager-- and his boys are using the Jon boat and elbow grease to do everything possible to remove as much plant matter as possible.  Remember, those plants just die and add to the nutrients that fuel the algae blooms.

Algae is bad and we'll get it again this year. We are exploring several solutions: barley straw, Phoslock (way too expensive), and Alum (expensive, but we could swing it, but there are DEC permitting issues).

If you have an interest in Mohegan Lake, please stay tuned and get involved.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mohegan Lake Improvement District Meeting: 6/6/13

We will be meeting this Thursday at 8:00 PM in the kitchen at the Mohegan Colony schoolhouse at 99 Baron de Hirsch Road in Crompond.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Save The Date: June 13th, 2013

I can't find a link on the official Yorktown or Historical Society websites--but below you can see a picture of a flyer I found at town hall last week: Former 20 year resident and Mohegan Lake folk hero David Wright--not to mention, prominent Yorktown attorney--will be giving a presentation on the 300 year history of Mohegan Lake. He is encouraging any memorabilia or good stories to be contributed by us.

7:30pm.  June 13th, 2013.  Ground floor nutrition center at the Yorktown Community and Cultural Center @ 1974 Commerce Street.  Be there, or be square. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bad News

Hemlock Hill had a fire in April.  They lost structures that accommodated chickens, hay and livestock equipment.  Bad news for sure.  Thankfully the Captain Lawrence Brewery has stepped in to do a week long fundraiser, June 17-22,  to raise funds for a barn raising [editor's note: have you ever seen "Witness"? I love Harrison Ford]; there's a Kickstarter Campaign going as well. 

It should be noted that Hemlock Hill actually feeds its pigs and cows used hops from the brewery.  Talk about symbiosis!  Beer and and meet, truly united.

If you can give do.  If you don't already frequent the farm, it's highly recommended.  Oh, and Captain Lawrence is a great local brewery.  How can you not support them.  Have you tried their Sun Block beer. It's a hoppy wheat beer, good with some lemon.  Perfect for these 85 degree days in May.

Friday, May 17, 2013

2 Things of Note

I finally lawyered up and actually had dinner with my attorney tonight.  We went to Thyme down on Route 202.   It was a pleasant dinner with good service at a reasonable price for the quality.  I was pleasantly surprised by a good live music act throughout dinner.  Two thumbs up from the Bray house.

Said attorney was kind enough to lend me these New York Zoning Law and Practice books, all 4 volumes.  Everybody has to have a hobby, right? 

Seems like Faith Bible is not on the Planning Board agenda for Monday (they could still sneak it in though unadvertised--not unheard of in these parts).  Don't bother showing up to the zoning board working session on Thursday; I'll provide a detailed report.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Mohegan Lake Recap: 5/15/2013

Our Mohegan Lake Improvement District lake manager fired up all of the aeration stations on the lake, less the one on Horton Road that was damaged during Hurricane Sanday.  Nice work, Wayne.

We should expect to further our discussion about the Faith Bible Church Proposal at their public meeting on May 20th.  And don't forget the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Thurday, May 23rd.  Word on the street is they are excited to meet with us again.

Beavers!  Did you see the Yorktown News Article about "public enemy #1," the beavers that have taken up residence in the lake?  Unfortuanately that publication does not have a web presence and I can't link to the article.

The Mohegan Highlands Beach is opening up Memorial Day weekend.  We need volunteers to help float our swimming docks and ropes.  If you can help scrup Canada goose poop off the docks, maneuver them into position and tie ropes and buoys this weekend, please email me at This Sunday.  1pm.  MHPOA beach.  Be there, or be square. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Protect Our Turtles Mohegan Lake

Mrs. Johnson was the guest speaker at Mohegan Lake day last year. I'd like to share her message, below. Mohegan Lake is probably one of the top 3 turtle sanctuaries in Westchester.  We should be proud of that.

Dear Turtle Supporter, 

If you have a few moments, could you give these assemblymen a call. Also, please forward this to any list or individuals you think would be interested. 
Thanks! - Patricia

A  destructive bill legalizing the capture and killing of snapping turtles by trapping is speeding through the  NYS Legislature  Snapping turtles are already permitted to be killed by gun and longbow and therefore recreational and commercial trapping will dramatically increase the number of  these turtles deaths. A devastating blow to these  vulnerable animals.   The bill has passed the Senate is and  is currently in the Assembly Codes Committee. This proposed legislation is cruel and scientifically wrong.  It is not based on any proven science regarding snapping turtles, or any turtle species.  

Would you please make a 30 second call ( simply leave a message with the receptionist)   and/or   email  to the following legislators.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 6th, 2013 Planning Board Meeting Video

The internet is a wonderous place.  For those who were unable to attend or watch on the Municipal channel, you can watch it clicking on this link You can scroll ahead to the 1 hour, 36 minute mark to watch just the Faith Bible portion.  It's 2 hours long, so grab some popcorn.

I'm absolutely exhausted, but excited about our prospects.  Next public hearings:

May 20th Planning Board

May 23rd Zoning Board.  We'll have to wait and see if the Zoning application will be opened to public comment, but you should assume so.  See you there.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

And It Was Epic

Hi there all you bloggers and bloggerettes reading this here blog. The Faith Bible part actually only lasted about 2 hours and was left open to public comment. Thank goodness because I got off track and was distracted [note to self: don't bring 4 kids to a public hearing].  I promise you some choice video clips very soon. The takeaways from the meeting:
  1.  Thank you Mohegan Lake. It's a lot to ask a neighbor to physically appear before the board from 730-11 at night, but you did it.
  2. The Yorktown Planning board is very deliberative and doing good work.
  3. We'll likely get some quality time with the Zoning Board in the near future. [editor's note: I love you guys.  xoxoxoxo.]
  4.  If you haven't written an opposition letter or signed the petition, now is the time. Get in contact with me at 
  5. We need to have a community meeting to go everything--again. There's a lot of details to discuss. Hold 2-4pm on Saturday May 20th in your calendar. Likely at the MHPOA beach. 
  6. Will Faith Bible sue their design team for misleading them into a proposal that may be un-approvable?  As a trained architect and building code and zoning consultant, I'd be all over that.  Church is a residential use yet it requires a "special use permit" in a residential zone. Mwwwahahahah.  Naked in Times Square.  I've been there.  Not pleasant. 

 Stay tuned, kids.

Reminder: Faith Bible Church Planning Board Hearing Tonight 5/6/2013 at 7:30pm at Town Hall

Don't forget about this public hearing tonight.  It's only THE most important facing Mohegan Lake today (now that we quashed that crazy Holland Club ball field proposal).  I guarantee it will be epic. Make sure you've been fed and have a snack; it will probably take a while.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Urgent Call To Action

As you know, the public hearing for Faith Bible Church's proposal to create a huge building capable of holding 730 people while not increasing parking will be before the Yorktown Planning Board at 7pm on Monday, May 6th at Town Hall.

If you are submitting written comments to the Planning Board, I am recommending you make one specific point.  FBC's use of the facility is not in keeping with the historic character of the small residential community that surrounds the site.  That's one thing I can't credibly testify to.   Thankfully  I have so many awesome neighbors who have lived here, right here in the Mohegan Highlands, Shrub Oak Lake Estates and all around Mohegan Lake.  Most of you have lived here for many years.  20, 30, 40 year residents.  I actually know a 75 year old resident.  Born and raised right here on Jones Hill.  But I digress.

Below is a template. If it is easier, you can email it to with a copy to [that's me].  USPS mail works too. 

April 25th, 2013

Yorktown Planning Board
Yorktown Community & Cultural Center
1974 Commerce Street, Room 222
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

Re:  Faith Bible Church
       3500 Mohegan Avenue

Planning Board Members:

I live at ________ in Mohegan Lake.  I am writing you regarding the subject application to inform you that Faith Bible Church's use of the site is not consistent with the historic character of our small residential community.They do not use the site in accordance with the last Yorktown Planning Board approval.  The Lakeland Jewish Center never used the homes for church purposes and substantially conformed to the Planning Board approval.

[Tell the planning board members  what the historic character of the neighborhood was prior to FBC's recent transgressions.]

[Discuss any specific issues like the illegal conversion of the homes in 2005.  The fact they park 85+ cars weekly where 23 are permittedThe building they are proposing has two places of assembly capable of holding 730 people without increasing parkingThey are proposing parking in the front yards which is illegal and would never be allowed in Yorktown Heights.  The building department and code enforcement officer fail to do their job and issue a violation after years and years of flouting the law.  The list goes on and on.]

[Thank the planning board members for their voluntary service.]


[Your name(s)]

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring Onions and Beavers in Mohegan Lake

If you live in Mohegan Lake then you know this is the time of year our yards are inundated with wild onions.  It helps to use a hand trowel to loosen hard soil to free up the bunches of scallion-y wild spring onions.  I cooked with some tonight.  They have a fresh herb and garlicky flavor.

In beaver news, I saw one swim past my house this weekend.  There was a spirited discussion at the Mohegan Highland's beach clean up about the beavers this weekend. There were persuasive arguments made to leave the beavers alone and let the northernmost section of Mohegan Avenue flood.  It's futile to fight nature--plus abandoning that section of the road will cut down on through traffic and speedy speedsters speeding through our quaint residential community.  I think I'm leaning towards a let it be policy.  Who knows, I may have water front property.  Beavers sure are industrious. 

It seems that the Mohegan Lake Improvement District is supporting a grating system and some cleaning.  More details to come at the next MLID in a couple weeks.  Stay tuned for details.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mohegan Lake Weekly Roundup: Yee-haw

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hemlock Hill Farm

One of my favorite things about Mohegan Lake is its proximity to Hemlock Hill farm; less than 10 minutes.  I try to by all my protein there, but fall far too short.  I received this coupon (image below, expires 5/16) and wanted to share.   

Here's a link to the farm's facebook page.  Like it!

The farm is run by a great family, father and daughter.  They do farming right.  I would note that I took second place in the judges choice an important chili competition featured in the Wall Street Journal using 5 pounds of Hemlock Hill ground lamb (see if you can spot my balding mug serving chili in the photo on that link) .

By the way, their chickens are tasty.  Roast it simple and turn that carcass into chicken stock.  Make that matzoh ball soup from scratch?  I did recently and don't regret it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Earth Day Cleanup 4/20/13

Don't forget about it.  Up here in Yorktown we theme it the "Battle of Yorktown."  You can obtain orange bags and arrange pick up spots with the town.  It's a tangible way you can ameliorate Mohegan Lake.  Instant gratification.  I promise. 

You can see details on this link to the town's official website.

Robbery on Kimble Avenue This Morning

Some shocking news that explains the helicopters and police presence at the north side of Mohegan Lake today.  Here's a link to a Patch story.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Meeting Regarding Faith Bible Church 4/20/2013 at 2pm

Hello Mohegan Lake,

You are invited to a meeting regarding the FBC application currently before the Yorktown Planning Board.  We will be meeting at the Mohegan Highlands Property Owner's Association beach (after our clean up).   All Mohegan Lake Improvement District home owner associations and park districts are invited.  Email me if you need directions.  Refreshments will be provided.

There is a May 6th public hearing on the subject at Yorktown Town Hall.  We will be reviewing the plans and discussing actions we can take to preserve the quaint residential character of or neighborhood; since the subject site is one of the main gateways to our community, it affects us all.  

Hope to see you there,

The Brays

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Some people work very hard, but still they never get it right."

It is time to sum up where we are with Faith Bible Church. Simply put, the church leaders continue to behave selfishly. Their proposed construction would be detrimental to the wetlands of Mohegan Lake and every home in the small residential neighborhood that surrounds it. Their design is plainly illegal, for good reason. The site is simply too small for such a large development. And yet, nearly 5 years after plans were initially submitted, the scale of the proposed development is as large as ever. 
Instead of respecting the law, and the public interest that is served by the law, the church hires shameless professionals to make deceitful arguments in an endless search for special exceptions to the law. The public interest is clearly opposed by such an illogical design, but mislead public officials continue to entertain the possibility of granting these exceptions. While this may benefit the church and the hired professionals who exploit their selfishness, the rest of us are losing in the process
Much more to come on this shortly.  Thankfully, we have the full backing of both home owners associations that surround the site and will make a reasoned stand against the madness.  

Yorktown Smart Growth Dinner and Auction This Saturday, 4/13

Yorktown Smart Growth is a great organization that advocates for the responsible development of Yorktown.  If you can make it out to Traveler's Rest this Saturday, I highly recommend it.  I personally guarantee you'll have a good time and meet a lot of great Yorktowners.  Info below:

www.yorktownsmartgrowth.myevent .com

7-10 PM
Route 100, 1 mile south of the Croton Reservoir

Music by Jazzman Joe Picciano
Hors d’ Oeuvres and Wine

Presale $30 or at the door $40

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Honey, I Eliminated The Required Front Yards

Unfortunately for Faith Bible Church, their design team has made what we in the profession refer to as a "colossal fuck up."  It's a highly technical term, but I think you understand it's not a good thing.  In short, the zoning code prohibits parking, for anything other than residences, in required front yards; 30 of the 63 parking spaces they are proposing are not permitted as of right and this is just now--over 4 years after the application was filed--coming to light.  It effectively reduces the occupant load the parking can support from 252 to 132.  Keep in mind they are proposing an occupant load of 344 on the first floor and 378 on the 1st floor. 

B. In any residence district, no required off-street parking facility shall be developed within the required front yard to serve other than residential uses, nor shall be developed within five feet of a side or rear lot line. 

I had a bit of a back and forth with the building inspector and he helpfully pointed out that in residential zoning districts, like where Faith Bible is, corner lots are required to provide side yards equivalent to the minimum front yard requirement in the prevalent zone  (30 feet in this case).  This means the wetland lot actually has a front yard requirement(indicated by yellow highlighter on plans below) not shown on my the plans; even worse than I initially thought.

G. Corner lots. On a corner lot in any residence district, there shall be provided a side yard on the side street equal in depth to the required front yard on said side street.

Since I wrote the attached letter (below, with exhibits) to the planning board, it has also come to light that the applicant is required to maintain a 35 foot front yard, not 30 feet as previously thought.  It's right there in Appendix A, footnote (1) of the Residence Zone Standards Duh!

On streets with less than a 50-foot right-of-way [Sagamore is 40 feet wide], the front yard setback shall be measured from the center line of the existing roadway and 25 feet shall be added to the required front yard setback.


There is actually additional required front yard on the Mohegan Ave frontage of the Wetland parking lot.  The code prohibites all this parking in our little residential zone.  Their engineer and architect totally overlooked (willfully or not) this provision.  It's kind of a bid deal since granting a variance for so much parking in that required front yard buffer would ruin the residential character of the neighborhood and devalue all of our homes. 

If I had made the same mistake they did (overlooking the front yard prohibition on parking), I would lose my job.  Shame on me for missing it for such a long time. Zoning can be sexy and thrilling.  I think I just proved that. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Public Hearing Notice for Faith Bible Church Monday, 5/6/2013 @7:30pm

There is a community meeting at the Mohegan Highland's beach on 4/20/2013 at 2pm to organize our opposition to the major new development that Faith Bible Church is proposing.

Last night it was decided that the FBC public hearing will finally go forth.  It's imperative that we show up and make our opposition known in writing.  Should you live in the area and are familiar with the proposal, please feel free to write a letter to the Planning Board. You can email or snail mail it, or both.  We only pay taxes and not Al Capellini so the planning board will likely just ignore our protests, but we should make a stand on principle anyway.

Yorktown Community & Cultural Center
1974 Commerce Street, Room 222
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
If you email, it's good practice to copy the town clerk.

Suggested issues to raise:

  • A 730 person, 8,500sf church is not representative of the character of the neighborhood.  The Lakeland Jewish Center never operated in such a manner and respected the current approvals for the site, on record with the Yorktown Building Department and Tax Assessor. Faith Bible Church illegally converted two homes to increase the occupant and parking loads without approval of the Yorktown.
  • The Lakeland Jewish Center never occupied or used the two legal residences as anthing other than single family homes.
  • FBC's proposal does not provide enough parking to support the proposed occupant load.  They currently park as many cars on site, in fact more--per their engineer's study, than will be provided with the new building.  
  • Zoning code prohibits parking in required front yards in residential districts.  Faith Bible is proposing 30 of their 63 parking spaces in required front yards.  They have no variance to do so.
  • A zoning variance to allow parking denigrates the gateway to our residential community.  Instead of a 30' required front yard, the applicant illegally parks 86+ cars wherever they feel necessary resulting in a used car lot aesthetic.  
 Much more information to come shortly.  This is the beginning of the end.