NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Flavio La Rocca and his wife Maria LaRocca were outspoken in their opposition to consideration by the City of New Rochelle to use eminent domain to take property along East Street as part of a plan to relocate the Department of Public Works yard on East Main Street.
New Rochelle United Against Eminent Domain, an organization backed by the couple’s company, F. LaRocca & Sons, offered a number of justifications for their opposition to moving the City Yard to East Street: impact on businesses on East Street, on traffic, on children, the supposed abuse of eminent domain, lack of government transparency, the impact on City Park, the impact on the environment, and the impact on quality of life in the neighborhood.
Most of the objections were unfounded nonsense.
IMPACT ON BUSINESSES ON EAST PLACE: The plan will force businesses out; the businesses will go bankrupt, relocation will damage businesses, family names, and reputation of 10 businesses, Development Commissioner told businesses to move to Mount Vernon; plan threatens the livelihoods of over 70 people.
IMPACT ON TRAFFIC IN THE AREA: A Public Works Yard at that location will cause a traffic nightmare, will create extreme traffic, will increase truck traffic on Pinebrook Boulevard, the exit for all of the city’s trucks would feed out onto Fifth Avenue, which is a narrow one-lane street already suffering from serious traffic issues.
IMPACT ON CHILDREN: A Public Works Yard at that location will cause a serious safety issue for students at Barnard School, one business owner has a sick daughter, kids play in the street.
ABUSE OF EMINENT DOMAIN: Eminent domain is supposed to be used for public uses that are actually necessary, not the right of the City to deprive people of their property, the move is unnecessary because other sites could be chosen, the plan to relocate the Public Works Yard is solely to clear space for a private developer at current Public Works Yard.
LACK OF GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY: The process has not been transparent, the City is not transparent, the public does not know what other sites were considered, the City should find an alternative, this is a "done deal" with City trying to sneak it through, some people were given just two days notice of meeting with City, one person only found out the day before about the hearing, there was an official visit to the Beechwood Association but Sunset Association did not get a visit.
IMPACT ON CITY PARK: A Public Works Yard at that location will ruin City park, the plan will eliminate the skate park and impinge on City Park.
IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT: A Public Works Yard at that location will have a negative environmental impact on wetlands.
IMPACT ON QUALITY OF LIFE/REAL ESTATE VALUES: A Public Works Yard has no place on East Place, it will be situated directly between homeowners’ back yards and a well-utilized city park, DPW is a nuisance, it will have a negative impact on quality of life, it will reduce property values.
As will become apparent, the La Rocca’s only interest was themselves — there are more trucks, cars and heavy equipment operating out of East Street (most owned by LaRocca & Sons) today than all of the city vehicles stored and maintained by New Rochelle at the DPW Yard on East Main Street so traffic problems would be less not more by moving the City Yard; the La Rocca’s have been destroying the environment in the East Street area for years; the biggest source of quality of life complaints in the neighborhood near East Street have been the landscaping and construction business operating on East Street, including complaints about LaRocca & Sons.
In a supremely hypocritical and self-indulgent appearance before New Rochelle City Council, Flavio La Rocca expressed indignation that the City of New Rochelle would intrude on his property, not keep him informed about encroachment on his property, and take his property without his consent.
“I think it is unfair to have your property that you have worked so hard for be pulled from under your feet with this abuse of power,” said Flavio La Rocca.
La Rocca’s wife, Maria La Rocca, made a similar point while all but accusing City Council of trying to kill her sick child.
“Please do not violate our right to keep what we have worked so hard to own,” said Maria La Rocca, “Our business, our family name, and our reputation will suffer.”
The indignation of the La Roccas might be more compelling if they actually owned or leased all the property used by F. LaRocca & Sons to operate their business.
IN reality, over the past decade Flavio La Rocca has repeatedly misappropriated public property for his own use both for his business, his workers and for his family.
Much, if not most, of the property Flavio La Rocca currently uses to run his business is City property.
It is rich then to listen to the La Roccas whine about how the injustice of the City taking their property when it has been the other way around for many years with the La Roccas helping themselves to City property.
During the recent consideration of the East Street location as a DPW yard site, the City hired Ward Carpenter Engineers out of Mamaroneck, NY to prepare a hyper-accurate survey map of the area which shows in great deal what Flavio La Rocca has been up to over the years. There are many examples of this. This article will focus on one of them — the corner property on East Street and Fifth Avenue owned by FMLR Management, LLC where “FMLR” refers to “Flavio and Marie La Rocca”.
The detail of the survey map (above) indicates the parcel owned by FMLR Management LLC. The area outlined red is the parcel FMLR paid for; the area outlined in yellow indicates the area Flavio LaRocca took from the City.
Several years ago, Flavio La Rocca misappropriated the frontage of his parcel, about 10 feet out along the entire length of the east edge of the property out onto East Street. He accomplished this by building an illegal chainlink fence and gate and then placing concrete jersey barriers in front of the gate. He then illegally placed concrete slabs within the area, build illegal metal shelves and locked the gate.
Within the property Flavio La Ross does own, he has constructed railroad tie walls and shelves which are not likely to pass inspection by the New Rochelle Building Bureau.
Along the south edge of of the property, Flavio La Rocca extended out several more feet by building a stone masonry wall (indicated on the map), filling that in with the dirt and planting arborvitae trees to screen the property.
LaRocca has good reason to want to screen the property because the way he built up the storage shelves is illegal, the storage shelf on city property is illegal and there is an industrial grade sifter hidden back there which, sources tell Talk of the Sound, La Rocca has operated illegally for years. A sifter — used to process fill, topsoil, earth, sand, gravel, rock — must be licensed for use by Westchester County. The operation of a sifter on an industrial level requires Certification from the Westchester County Department of Health Bureau of Environmental Quality to operate a source of air contamination. Talk of the Sound has requested copies of such certifications for LaRocca & Sons from Westchester County and records of any violation notices issued by Westchester County.
So much for La Rocca’s concern about the environment, quality of life for his neighbors and impacting real estate values.
There is more -- much more.
In the meantime, however, the City of New Rochelle needs to order F. LaRocca & Sons to tear down the fence and gate, move the jersey barriers, rip out and remove the concrete slabs, take down the masonry wall, tree pits and arbor vitae trees and anything else on City property.
Flavio La Rocco did not return repeated phone calls, messages and emails requesting comment on this series of articles.
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