Documents and Photos for the
East Hills Architectural Review Board
Meeting of Oct., 2016

IF YOU AGREE ... in this age of Global Warming and species collapse, East Hills -- and elsewhere in our region -- needs far better environmental and ecological stewardship, please attend the hearings and/or provide me written testimony expressing your desire to preserve the trees and halt the over-building to: Richard Brummel (516) 238-1646, Email: rxbrummel [at] gmail [dot] com. Other assistance is also welcome. Thank you.

Application Documents: 113 Revere

Once again a developer proposes to build a massive new house blatantly out of character with the neighborhood, roughly doubling the size and creating a bulky, garish, box-like presence that dominates the property and the streetscape. Norgate is characterized by houses that minimize their front-facing bulk and soften it by classic angular lines and modest front-facing windows. The prosed house turns all these architectural techniques on their head -- resulting in a house that directly contradicts Village law requiring protection of the architectural integrity of the neighborhood by restricting construction of homes and changes in them to what is "in harmony" with the neighborhood and the site (Section 271-186). A canvass of nearby houses revealed there may be strong opposition to this application. Most of the neighbors may not know that in August the board approved a massive bulky make-over and tree removal located a half block away at 35 Deerpath, whose now-approved application we repeat below for reference and to show the potential cumulative effect of the new houses now creeping into 'Old Norgate'. The Revere Road application also calls for the removal of three or seven trees depending on which document is to be believed -- the Tree Permit Application or the Site Plan. After years of semi-abandonment, the greenery on the property is likely home to some local indigenous animals whose welfare should also be considered in this process.

(For Norgate Reference) -- Previous Nearby Application Approved August, 2016: 35 Deerpath

The current house at 35 Deerpath
The tree proposed for destruction at 35 Deerpath: Tree

The owner seeks to completely change the appearance and character of this demure, classic Norgate house: to double its size, add another story and cut down a handsome healthy tree on the front lawn to accommodate a massive new driveway for three cars. This contradicts Village law requiring protection of the architectural integrity of the neighborhood by restricting construction of homes and changes in them to what is "in harmony" with the neighborhood and the site (Section 271-186). The law also mandates the "intent" of the Village code is "to protect the tree canopy for current and future generations" (Section 186-1). The application lacks a mandated "tree warden" report to evaluate the impact of the tree removal on neighboring properties. There is no such requirement for an architectural report. (APPROVED DESPITE OBJECTIONS RAISED)

Application Documents: 185 Elm Dr.
Second Indep. Arborist Opinion: Oberlander Opinion
Tulip Tree Proposed for Destruction
Partial Beech Trees Proposed for Destruction (3 of 6)
Oak Tree Proposed for Destruction
Oak Tree Proposed for Destruction

A HIGHLY destructive application to cut down TWELVE trees directly surrounding the house and the abutting the street, many of which the Village consulting arborist states are healthy, and even more of which former Village Tree Warden and Tree-law author Richard Oberlander has found to be either healthy or at best requiring further detailed examination. All these documents are attached in the PDF above. The application would cut most of a rich stand of Beech trees along the street, as well as a massive perfectly healthy Tulip tree, as well as similarly healthy Oaks. The Village consulting arborist has written (see PDF) that the multiple Beech trees have cavities, but Oberlander points out in his written tree cavities -- home to local squirrels and raccoons -- are not necessarily indicative of a tree's structural weakness, and each cavity must be measured and evaluated. Most astonishing in the record is that the applicant's arborist has alleged that the Tulip and an Oak tree in the rear have fatal defects -- claims that are completely discounted by the independent arborists, Tree Health and Oberlander. The board has failed to act on such issues in the past despite our requesting they do so, thus encouraging such activity. There is no Tree Warden Report in the file, despite its requirement by the Village code.

Application Documents: 154 Crescent Lane

Applicant wishes to cut a Cedar, Red Maple and Cherry, two of which are healthy (see PDF). The application involves a demolition and rebuilding -- part of the despicable trend in East Hills abetted by lax zoning laws that invite speculation -- and a roughly doubling in the size of the house to 3,682 square feet, and a doubling in lot coverage from 11.5% to 19.4%. The application omits the original dimensions of the house, so it is not possible to judge the relative size -- a typical and un-abated deficiency in ARB Applications. Despite the tree proposed removals, there is no arborist report and no Tree Warden Report.

Application Documents: 30 Midwood Cross

The applicant who is possibly the current resident proposes a massive increase in size of the house from 3,604 square feet to 6,100 square feet. The lot coverage will almost double from 9.9% to 1`7.93%. There are no color renderings of the new house, only very vague sketches (see PDF). There was (as of 10/4/16) no application, plan or statement regarding landscaping or trees.


      The East Hills Village Code contains provisions to protect the local environment: to preserve the tree canopy (Section 186), to preserve the architectural harmony of the community (Section 271-185), and to halt the rampant demolitions *and* rebuilding of large over-bearing massive new houses (Section 271-225). The Architectural Review Board (ARB) is the de-facto front-line environmental regulator of the Village. The Zoning Board of Appeals has a role but it hears far fewer cases, and does not deal with multiple demolitions and rebuildings, and proposed tree 'removals-by-the-dozen' each month, as the ARB does. Anyone passing through East Hills will notice that the ARB has been grossly failing in its environmental duties, voting in favor of the real-estate speculation that the Village administration now favors. But for a few years now, we have been trying hard to oppose this policy, including by taking the Village to court.

      One key problem is that the members of the board are appointed by the Mayor after no public application or review process, except maybe a cursory description and rubber-stamp vote by the trustees. This is the result of a pure crony/one-party system, which tries to discredit, wear-out, or co-opt critics. Dissenting members of the board like founding members Hilda Yohalem and Richard Oberlander are shown the door. Jana Goldenberg quit last year in disgust over a large house built on Chestnut Drive, by a resident later appointed to the board, in a true irony. However, neighbor testimony can be effective in some cases in forcing some limited modification of plans.

      The Village currently continues to refuse to post any documents from the applications being heard by ARB on its website -- DESPITE state law requiring that it make a good-faith effort to do so (Open Meeting Law: NY State Public Officers Law, Article 7, Section 103(e)).

      Therefore most residents are in the dark and have difficulty making sense of the vague notices they *may* receive about the proposal to rebuild a house nearby and/or "remove trees". The fact is, every month the ARB approves massive, ugly and inappropriate new houses and the destruction of dozens of healthy trees -- with no real oversight or public accountability. The Board is appointed in virtual secrecy with no open application process or public hearings on the nominees of the Mayor. The trustees are a rubber stamp. The media does not pay any attention.

      The ARB utterly fails to uphold the tree protection law or the architectural preservation law. Visits to streets like Poplar Drive and Birch Drive reveal the extremes of the current reckless over-development policy; and many other streets bear the ugly sterile imprint of the same trend of over-sized houses on denuded lots too small for the massive 5,000 to 6,000 square-foot homes being routinely approved. Animals are losing trheir shelter and sources of food, and this community is being degraded -- like so many others on Long Island. Conscientious people have resigned from the ARB, the most recent one quietly this winter.

      Since last year, we have been trying to improve the process by putting some documents online for residents to readily see in advance what is at stake. We also give neighbors more detailed letters about what is at stake, time permitting.

      Please help us fight for our environment, trees and neighborhood character. The organizer of this effort, Richard Brummel, grew up here in Norgate; went to Roslyn High School and Yale. We fight for the environment throughout Nassau County. We need your help. Call Richard Brummel at (516) 238-1646 to express your support and share your ideas, and attend the meetings generally the first Monday at 8 PM in Village Hall. Thanks!