Thursday, December 07, 2006


I am asking the Town Board to consider adopt abandoned properties legislation - requiring property owners that start construction to complete construction within a reasonable period of time. There are some properties in the town that are eyesores -construction started but never was completed. Neighbors feel this has a negative impact on property values. What are your thoughts? What suggestions do you have for legislation?


hal samis said...

I am not sure that just because construction has stopped, that one can call these properties as abandoned. One test would be if the owner is still paying taxes on the property and is still paying whatever mortgages may exist.

Although I recognize the Orchard Hill situiation as the stimulus for this posting, there are other things (which are not the story in Orchard Hill) that may cause uncompleted construction.

The builder may have run out of money, whether he is using his own capital or his lender has enforced a stop work clause.

The economics of the project may change. The housing market is tanking. A house may be completed too late for profitable sale. Why would the builder pour more money into a project if he feels that he would lose money on the sale? It would be a better business decision to complete the job when the market for sales is more favorable.

What do you do in a situation, like the vacant health club on Central Avenue, in which the tenant, no longer in occupancy, was still paying rent through the expiration of the lease?

In a slightly different twist, I understand that there is a house in Ardsley at which the owner has maintained a veritable junkyard on the front porch. This is viewed as an eyesore also. Apparently, the matter cannot be resolved by the fire department (volunteer) or the building inspector, etc.

What I am leading up to is that there should be some acknowledgement of a broader principle which is at stake: where do private property rights end and where do the "good of the neighbors/community rights" start?
Is it the proper function of government to go beyond zoning and planning intrusions and determine what color a building can be painted, whether a modern design can be built between two Tudor style homes, whether a driveway can be located on the left border of the property if everyone else on the block has their driveway on the right border.

I think that less governmental intervention is the better position and that the government should resist creating or enforcing matters of taste, matters of property values, matters of historic preservation desires, etc and instead confine its official concerns to areas like public safety.

Rights of individual owners, rights of the individuals are never considered with the same tolerance because an owner is just one vote whereas the neighbors, community, town reflect larger numbers of voters.

Still this is a nation founded on securing and preserving the rights of the individual. Over time, it has become more expedient to forget this and think more of the "alleged" community than of the individual. Please resist thr temptation to tread this path.

In a perfect world, everything is for sale. Certainly the Orchard Hill matter is one of fighting over houses that will ultimately be completed with a sale in mind. If neighbors find the problem (or if they can convince the Town to see it as a problem) then one sure solution that will make everyone happy would be to buy the problem properties, tear down the uncompleted shells, and call what's left, a park. Certainly, the neighborhood could have always done this, as they could have bought the land originally. If they did/do not have the resources to do so, then and now, the fair resolution is not to further tie the hands or punish the developers but for the Town to somehow pursue the free market palatable subterfuge which is to create a park.

In other words, put your money where you mouth is, being the far better road to travel than stepping on the toes of individuals for the supposed good of the state.

Anonymous said...

The town does and should have zoning laws to protect all of us. That is a legitimate Town power. Why dont we ask what other towns do?

Telling homeowners if they dont like it they have to buy it is not the answer.

Anonymous said...

Where's Orchard Hill? What's the situation there?

Whatever the situation, I doubt that town legislation would be beneficial - particularly because of the typical Greenburgh political dramas it would undoubtedly create.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 5:19 anonymous who asked "why don't we see what other towns do?" Personally started googling other Westchester town zoning codes on how long builders can take to finish building - but it appears to be a daunting task requiring much more time than I have. Might be a good job for the paid personnel in Town offices so that when the matter comes to the Town Council and Supervisor we will know how it has been handled other places and if there has been expensive litigation that Greenburgh could avoid by learning what the courts have ruled in this matter and thus wording Greenburgh's code to avoid this cost, and still keep eyesores at bay.

Also agree with blog that pleads for the 'individual's rights' to build and finish the job when it is profitable for the builder - but also think that 'individual rights' extend to nearby property owners whose rights are violated by a builder who leaves an unfinished building for a long, extended period of time. What comes to mind is a half framed building with mounds of excavated dirt lying around. What a safety hazard for neighborhood children and definitely the kind of thing that takes dollars out of the pockets of the neighbors in terms of their home value. So the builer protects his financial interest, but the neighbors lose financially. Even the builder of the unfinished building would not want to live in that neighborhood. And the Town might risk liability for letting such a building remain unfinished because it could be such a hazard.

Anonymous said...

You mean, like this house on Wilson street, that can be seen from North Central Ave in Hartsdale?

I absoluetely agree that there should be a law like this, however, what happens if the person building it runs out of funds or goes belly up?

Anonymous said...

Something is wrong with this blog. None of the posts are in chronological order on the main page, and it won't let you post links.

Anyways, I have a photo of this house. Put this link together and go here.

hal samis said...

"Come ona my house, and I will give you candy..."