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In 2006, New Rochelle City Officials Improperly Granted Certificates of Occupancy for 3 Buildings at Huguenot Hills

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In 2006, New Rochelle City Officials Improperly Granted Certificates of Occupancy for 3 Buildings at Huguenot Hills

August 30, 2010 - 16:10
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Talk of the Sound has determined that City of New Rochelle building officials improperly approved Certificates of Occupancy for the mixed-use development built at 179 East Main Street by Bob Young Companies in 2006. The development, Huguenot Hills, is located between Main Street and Old Boston Post Road across the street from the road that leads to Five Islands Park. The development appears to violate local, County and State building codes related to plumbing and drainage as well as requirements that no modifications are made to previously approved building plans without written approval.

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The developer failed to install a required system of gutters and leaders or downspouts on Building A, Building B and much of Building C as required under the plan approved by the City of New Rochelle. As a result of the violations, water and ice drop directly onto a public sidewalk and a public street creating a dangerous public nuisance, exposing the developer, the architect, the building owners, building residents, building tenants and the City of New Rochelle to legal risk due to injury caused by the unsafe conditions at the building. The Huguenot Hills drainage system connects to the Westchester County Sewer system raising questions about Westchester County violations as well.

City records show that construction on the building stopped in 2006 without work being completed on the roof drainage system. Bob Young, the developer of the project was under pressure to complete the project for financial reasons, sources say. Further, that Con Edison had to unwrap wires and transformers next to the building which had been wrapped to protect workers while installing the uncompleted drainage system but had to be uncovered prior to obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy. Despite the glaring and obvious failure to install a roof drainage system for the Main Street side of two buildings and parts of a third building, Mr. Caldararo passed all three buildings during their final inspections. The inspection reports were the basis upon which the Certificates of Occupancy were issued.

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The developer was granted Certificates of Occupancy for Building C on June 7, 2007, Building A on July 8, 2006, Building B on July 16, 2006. There are also Final Inspections and Certificates of Occupancy for Building D and Building E but those buildings do not face out onto Main Street and were not the focus on Talk of the Sound's inquiry into the development. All of the work and subsequent approvals took place during the tenure of Deputy Commissioner/Buildings Noel Shaw, Jr. who retired in 2008.

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City Manager Chuck Strome did not reply to an email seeking comment. All of the work and approvals took place under his tenure as City Manager.

Bob Young, reached by telephone, stated that he was on vacation with his family, that he had no comment on Huguenot Hills, stated that the problem with installing a roof drainage system had to do with the Con Edison lines and then hung up the telephone.

Noel Shaw, retired and now living in North Carolina, initially stated that he did not recall the details of the project. Shaw said that he did not recall why the building received a Certificate of Occupancy despite not having a roof drainage system but that he would rely on his inspectors to make determinations about compliance with building code. Shaw said a roof drainage system was not mandatory but more of a convention.

"Drainage can be accomplish without leaders and gutters", said Shaw.

Whether drainage can be accomplished without leaders and gutters, a recent report by Talk of the Sound TV indicates that drainage has not been accomplished at Huguenot Hills. The video shows streams of water shooting off the steeply pitched roof onto the sidewalk below, creating a public nuisance and making for hazardous driving conditions in front of the building.



The Property Maintenance Code of New York State would appears to contradict Mr. Shaw. §1503.4 refers back to the Plumbing Code of New York State which also appears to contradict Mr. Shaw.


Property Maintenance Code of New York State - WEATHER PROTECTION

§1503.4 [P] Roof Drainage. Design and installation of roof drainage system shall comply with the Plumbing Code of New York State.



The Plumbing Code of New York State addresses this issue in excruciating detail as does the Property Maintenance Code of New York State:


SECTION 304 EXTERIOR STRUCTURE

304.7 Roofs and drainage.

304.7 Roofs and drainage. The roof and flashing shall be sound, tight and not have defects that admit rain. Roof drainage shall be adequate to prevent dampness or deterioration in the walls or interior portion of the structure. Roof drains, gutters and downspouts shall be maintained in good repair and free from obstructions. Roof water shall not be discharged in a manner that creates a public nuisance.



The Property Maintenance Code of New York State requires the installation of roof drains, gutters and downspouts and spells out precise calculations as to the size and capacity of drainage systems on buildings.


STATE INFORMATION [ 2007 Plumbing Code of New York State ]
Chapter 11 - Storm Drainage

SECTION 1106 SIZE OF CONDUCTORS, LEADERS AND STORM DRAINS

1106.1 General. The size of the vertical conductors and leaders, building storm drains, building storm sewers, and any horizontal branches of such drains or sewers shall be based on the 100-year hourly rainfall rate indicated in Figure 1106.1 or on other rainfall rates determined from approved local weather data.

1106.2 Vertical conductors and leaders.
1106.3 Building storm drains and sewers.
1106.4 Vertical walls.
1106.5 Parapet wall scupper location.
1106.6 Size of roof gutters.



As the water from the building drains into County Sewers, the County must approve the construction. Letters contained in New Rochelle Building Department files show that the City of New Rochelle made certain false representations to the County as to the work being done at Huguenot Hills.

In order to obtain building permits, Bob Young was required to submit plans to the City of New Rochelle which required City approval. Regardless of what other ways rooftop drainage might have been accomplished, Mr. Young submitted plans prepared by the Peter Hart Sullivan Architecture Group which clearly indicate gutters and downspouts that were never installed. The files on record with the City's building department show no approvals of modifications to the approved plans.

Ray Sullivan of the Peter Hart Sullivan Architecture Group in Norwalk, CT confirmed that the plans they prepared called for a rooftop drainage system of gutters and leaders on all sides of each of the five buildings at Huguenot Hills.


CHAPTER 242. PLUMBING AND DRAINAGE§ 242-8.

§ 242-7. Filing of plans; notification of work.[Amended 12-19-1995 by Ord. No. 274-1995]

It shall be unlawful to do plumbing and drainage installation except pursuant to approved drawings or approved amendments thereof as provided herein.

A. Plans. The owner or agent shall file a plan with the Bureau of Buildings showing the system of plumbing to be installed, which drawings must be approved by the Plumbing Inspector before work is begun. No modification of the approved drawings shall be permitted unless amended or supplemental drawings covering the proposed change or changes are filed and approved. All such plans shall be submitted in duplicate, and one copy, stamped with the approval of the Plumbing Inspector, shall be kept on the premises where the installation is being carried on.



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APPENDIX

Complete Set of Building Department Files for Huguenot Hills

159 East Main Street

179 East Main Building A

179 East Main Building B

179 East Main Building C

179 East Main Building D

179 East Main Building E

179 East Main Architectural Drawings

RELATED

"The Enduring Mystery of the Huguenot Hills" or "Ever Notice Something Odd About Those Condos Across from Salesian"

Talk of the Sound TV: The Mystery of Huguenot Hills

There are 5 Comments

I wonder how thick the envelope was tha John got? I bet it was a good sized one.

It's more like doing favors for each other. I don't know about John C, but it's not unusual to find that granting a "favor" for a builder gets you a huge discount on your next home improvement project. Wrong by any means, but it happens. I would bet builders learned it from politicians.

When many of us looked at the original model prepared for this Development by the Young group, there was a lot more shrubbery surrounding the building. Why are developers allowed to show anything to neighborhood groups and then permitted to proceed building any way they want?

Others would say it's the nature of development, but whatever you call it, it is more often the case that final product rarely coincides with the original pitch. The first step is to get your foot in the door, then you start to ask for variances ( Cappelli imediately began to ask for approval for extra floors - exceding height restrictions under the guise that it wouldn't be profitable without the floor space- at Lecount) and you would find similar cajoling on any construction in New Rochelle. This has been one of the main issues many of us have had with development. You can't ask for taxpayers to support an undefined project. We are constantly being sold on one vision only to wind up with another, more intrusive version. Wait till you see what happens at Echo Bay and Lecount place. Once it's built there's no going back. No matter how much it destroys a community or how much it costs the taxpayer. Get involved and speak out!

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