Minutes of the

November 16, 2015 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

 

Officers Present

President – Walter Mugdan

Treasurer – Gary Savage

Secretary – Charles Manna

 

Board Members Present

Robert Timmerman

Phil Toscano

 

Officials Present

Ahmed  Nazaar from NYC Councilman Paul Vallone’s office

 

Old Business –

President Walter Mugdan called the meeting to order at 8:05 P.M.  A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted to waive reading of the minutes.   (Mr. Mugdan noted that the minutes were available for review on the Westmoreland website.)  

 

Gary Savage provided the Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $20,241.40 as of November 16, 2015.  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report.  The motion was seconded and the report was unanimously approved.

 

Participatory Budget Meeting was held October 29, 2015 at the Little Neck Community Church.  Delegates are being recruited for four committees:

  1. Education and Youth

  2. Parks and  Recreation

  3. Cultural and Community

  4. Streets and Transit

Last year’s project for the Library did not get enough votes to be in the  top five selections,  but it was popular enough for Vallone’s office to support.  The result is a planned community room expansion and the installation of a new HVAC system.

 

Vallone is calling for the Federal Aviation Administration to modify helicopter routes through northern Queens to stop annoying the residents.  They would like to see the routes moved further north over the sound so that the  noise would be minimized.  A motion was made and passed in support of Vallone’s petition.

 

City Planning Commission, under the encouragement of our mayor, is proposing significant zoning changes that affect building in the R5 and higher category.  It would allow an increase in building height.  The local community board is against this proposition.  It would increase density to an unacceptable level.  It would also increase the number of cars that are competing for limited parking space.  Vallone argues that the change undo’s years of effort to reduce FAR in the county.  Besides, builders can apply for variances.  There are already checks and balances to help to filter appropriate development.  A motion was made and passed to express our opposition to this proposal. 

 

New Business –

There was a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Glenwood and 41st Drive.  There is no Stop sign on the 41st Dr. sides of the intersection (only Glenwood).  The accident involved a Mercedes and a School Bus.  We are petitioning for a four-way stop there.  In the past, DOT said, “No, not enough accidents.”

 

Commercial News:

Citibank finally got the necessary CO documents for the new building on the  old Scooby lot.  Hopefully, they will open soon.

 

Staples building – nothing yet

 

"Vape" (e-cigarettes) shop on Northern and 254 Street.  Undesirable business; shoddy workmanship in the reconstruction.

 

There are now thirteen so-called Spas in the Little Neck/Douglaston stretch of Northern Blvd.  Some residents would love to see surveillance cameras and warning signs posted along the way.  One member will propose them at the next Participatory Budget meeting.

 

The schedule for the upcoming year’s meetings will be March 21, May 16, September 19 and November 21, 2016. 

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted, Charles Manna, Secretary

 

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Minutes of the

September 21, 2015 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

 

Officers Present

President – Walter Mugdan

Vice President -- Victor Dadras

 

Board Members Present

Phil Toscano

 

Officials Present

Ahmed Nazaar from NYC Councilman Vallone’s office

Amber Yoon from NYS Assemblyman Braunstein's office

 

 

President Walter Mugdan called the meeting to order at 8:05 P.M.  A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted to waive reading of the minutes.   (Mr. Mugdan noted that the minutes were available for review on the Westmoreland website.)  

 

Walter Mugdan read Gary Savage's Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $20,159.50 as of Sept. 21, 2015.  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report.  The motion was seconded and the report was unanimously approved.

 

Old Business –

 

Library Renovations:  John Duane, Victor Dadras and Ahmed Nazaar reported on progress of renovation and improvement plans for the Little Neck-Douglaston Branch of the Queens Library.  The funding for this work is in place.  The work will be carried out by the NYC Department of Design & Construction.   (The possibility of funding an entirely new library facility will be considered again in future budget years.)

 

Legislation Concerning Protective Covenants:  Walter Mugdan reported, as summarized in the meeting invitation letter, that NYC Councilman Paul Vallone introduced a bill (Intro 280) that would require the City Department of Buildings to maintain a publicly available registry of restrictive covenants that are filed with the Department. All deeds for properties in the Westmoreland Community containing such covenants.  (We call them “protective covenants” because they protect our property values and the character of the neighborhood.)  Under the bill, a covenant may be filed with the Buildings Department by the property owner or by a neighborhood or civic association such as ours.  The bill can be found at: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1709725&GUID=289C3B00-63DF-4A31-A862-80AF81D61F2F&Options=&Search=

 

In introducing this bill, Councilman Vallone was working to fulfill a commitment he made in 2013 when he ran for office.  At that time, our Association, along with the Douglas Manor and Broadway-Flushing Associations, asked all the candidates to promote a bill like this, and Councilman Vallone promised to do so. 

Walter explained that the legislation did not include one element that our September 2013 letter had requested, which is a "flag" on each affected property record on the Buildings Dep't. website providing notice that restrictive covenants exist, and directing the user to the registry.  Walter and the other Westmoreland officers were unavailable to attend the hearing on the bill scheduled for September 16 before the Council's Housing & Buildings Committee.  However, Walter submitted written testimony on behalf of the Association endorsing the bill but asking that the "flag" element be added.

Ahmed Nazaar reported that the legislation was well received at the hearing, with support from a number of civic groups (including ours).

Walter also noted that a bill on the same subject introduced last year in the NYS legislature by State Senator Avella included not only a registry and flag requirement, but also directed the Buildings Department to enforce the restrictive covenants.  Some stakeholders have criticized the Vallone bill for not including the enforcement provision, and have declined to endorse it for that reason.  Walter observed that the Westmoreland Association supports the Avella bill, but that the enforcement provision goes beyond what we requested of the NYC Council candidates in September 2013.  He therefore felt it was appropriate for us to endorse the Vallone bill (with the request that the flag provision be added.) Walter noted that there is also a legitimate argument to be made that, as a matter of good public policy, a governmental entity should not be tasked with the responsibility of enforcing a private right (such as a restrictive covenant).  Indeed, in the more distant past, some restrictive covenants were explicitly counter to good public policy, such as covenants seeking to prevent homes from being sold to non-white purchasers.  Such as covenants were later declared by courts to be invalid, but the point remains that there could be private covenants that advance objectives which are in conflict with those of the general objective.  It would be arguably inappropriate for the government to be required to enforce such covenants.  However, the mere provision of notice of the existence of the covenants is a clear benefit to developers, builders, homeowners and affected communities; and represents only a minor burden on the government, without implicating the policy considerations outlined above.

Ahmed Nazaar reported that the Buildings Department opposes the Vallone bill, and also argued that if any city agency were to maintain a registry of covenants it should be the City Finance Department.  Councilman Vallone will be discussing this issue with City Hall.  Walter expressed the strong opinions of the Westmoreland Association that the responsibility should remain with the Buildings Department, because it is the DOB website that all developers, builders, etc., must consult before carrying out any significant construction work.  The fundamental purpose of the bill -- notification -- would not be fulfilled (or at least not well) by having the registry in the Finance Department.

 

Walter encouraged members to reach their own conclusions about the legislation and express their opinions by writing to Councilman Vallone by email at: district19@council.nyc.gov or by regular mail to his office at 42-40 Bell Blvd., Suite 507, Bayside, NY 11361.

 

43-20 Glenwood:  As reported at the May, 2015 meeting, the Buildings Department permit issued for this property was for renovation of the existing structure, not a tear-down and rebuild.  However, the roof, the second floor and the first floor were completely removed.  Evidently, the builder saved a few old pieces of the old framing and integrated it into the new construction.  Walter noted that, on behalf of the Association, he had called 3-1-1 in May to report the apparent violations; at least two other members had also done so.  Victor Dadras reported that DOB issued a Stop Work Order, which remains in effect at this time.  The owner will presumably have to file entirely new permit applications for new construction.

 

New Business –

 

Obligations regarding retainig walls.  A member raised a question about which of two neighboring property owners is responsible for a necessary retaining wall when one property is higher than the other.  He reported that a new house was recently build on the property adjoining his backyard.   In connection with the new construction, the neighboring backyard grade was raised so it is a foot or two higher than his backyard.  The neighbor built a sort of retaining wall by stacking cinder blocks two high along the boundary of the properties.  The cinder blocks were not cemented, but merely placed.  They were installed adjacent to and leaning against the stockade fence at the back boundary of his property.  Under the weight of the soil in the neighboring property, the cinder blocks caused damage to his fence.  He discussed it with the neighbor, who proposed that they share the cost of building a proper retaining wall.  He questioned whether he had any responsibility for this, or whether it was entirely the neighbor's responsibility.  Victor Dadras and Phil Toscano, both architects, and Walter Mugdan shared some suggestions.  Based on the information provided, they opined that the responsibility would presumably be that of the neighbor.  Victor and Phil also suggested that he report the matter to the Buildings Department, which does regulate retaining walls.

 

Street Trees:  Walter Mueller reported that a large limb from a street tree in front of his house came down during a storm on July 20.  He reported it through 3-1-1, but the Parks Department didn't respond for about 6 weeks.  In the meantime, after the limb laid on his lawn for weeks, he finally had his own landscaper cut up and remove the limb.  When the Parks Department finally responded the limb was gone.  In addition, the power cable serving his house and his neighbors is touching the stem of the tree, which could cause damage to the cable.  He reported this to Con Edison, which purportedly inspected and found no problem.  It was suggested that he contact Con Ed again with photos to show the condition.

 

Graffiti:  Members reported recent graffiti on the side of Rachel's Hair Salon, a commercial establishment on the corner of Morgan and Northern Boulevard.  Member Roger Grothman agreed to speak with the business owner to advise (a) that the graffiti should be reported to the police as soon as it happens, and (b) the graffiti should be painted over as soon as the police check it out, or after documenting it by photographs that the police can use.   Roger subsequently reported that he had done so, that the business owner had agreed, and that a police officer was scheduled to visit the location on September 23.

 

The next meeting will be held November 16, 2015. 

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 PM.

 

Minutes prepared by Walter Mugdan

                                               

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Minutes of the

May 11, 2015 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

 

Officers Present

President – Walter Mugdan

Secretary – Charles Manna

 

Board Members Present

Robert Timmerman

Phil Toscano

 

Officials Present

Amehd  Mazaar from NYC Councilman Vallone’s office

 

Old Business –

President Walter Mugdan called the meeting to order at 8:05 P.M.  A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted to waive reading of the minutes.   (Mr. Mugdan noted that the minutes were available for review on the Westmoreland website.)  

 

Walter Mugdan read Gary Savage's Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $20,241.40 as of May 11, 2015.  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report.  The motion was seconded and the report was unanimously approved. 

 

New Business –

There is a new precinct commander at the 111th - Deputy Inspector William McBride.  Mr. McBride came to the meeting to introduce himself and to speak about issues and concerns that affect our community:

  • All city parks, including the one located across from PS 94, close at 9:00 PM.  If there are individuals who are still  there after closing, call 311 and  the police  will come and remove them. 

  • Mr. McBride discussed current crimes that are occurring in our and other neighborhoods.  They include identification theft and other similar scams.

  • The proliferation of “massage parlors” in the commercial buildings on Northern Blvd in Little Neck.  The landlords can face penalties through nuisance abatement laws and the tenants face eviction proceedings.  Proceedings can take up to six to nine months.

  • Nassau County police share information with the NYC police regarding criminal patterns.  For instance, there have been several burglaries in the past week (Station Deli – experienced a burglary recently).

 

Ahmed Mazaar from Councilman Valone’s office reported on the results of the recent Participatory Budget vote.  There were four finalists.  The fifth place was the expansion of the community meeting room in the Little Neck-Douglaston  Branch of the Queens Library.  Mr. Valone will fund the project with funds from the remaining discretionary budget. 

 

The Queens Library Foundation is holding a fund-raising party June 6th.

 

The Department of Transportation responded to our request to install speed bumps on Glenwood Street in the block immediately north of Northern Boulevard.  The work was completed in the past two weeks.  Our suggestion to install  “Children at Play” signs on the same block was not granted.  The DOT feels that the signs are ineffective and encourage children to not be careful.

 

43-20 Glenwood – The Buildings Department permit issued was for renovation of the existing structure, not a tear-down and rebuild.  Months earlier, Walter Mugdan had written to the owner and architect asking for the plans.  The plans showed that the house was to be extended south.  The plans showed that the construction would be in compliance with our covenants.  However, two weeks ago, the roof, the second floor and the first floor were completely removed.  Evidently, the builder saved a few old pieces of the old framing and integrated it into the new construction.  Victor Dadras said that there were at least three complaints filed against the owner.

 

Udalls Cove Park – There is a ¼ acre parcel for sale on Sandhill Road (known locally as The Back Road) across from and east of Aurora Pond.  There is a commitment by the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee to contribute money towards the purchase from the current owner or a buyer.  The Committee has available $30,000.  Councilman Paul Valone has committed $250,000.  Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has committed $250,000 also. State Senator Avella has committed $210,000.  It was suggested that the Trust for Public Land may help facilitate the transaction.

 

The Little Neck–Douglaston Memorial Day Parade will take place May 25th.  Those who wish to participate and march with the Westmoreland Association should meet near the Starbucks store at 2:00.

 

The next meeting will be held September 21, 2015. 

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted, Charles Manna, Secretary

 

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Minutes of the

March 16, 2015 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

 

Officers Present

President – Walter Mugdan

Secretary – Charles Manna

 

Board Members Present

Robert Timmerman

Phil Toscano

 

Officials Present

Matt Profundi – Aide to Assemblyman Edward Bronstein.

 

Vito Tautonico - Director of Constituent Services – NYC Council member Paul Vallone.

 

President Walter Mugdan called the meeting to order at 8:05 P.M.  A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted to waive reading of the minutes.   (Mr. Mugdan noted that the minutes were available for review on the Westmoreland website.)  

 

Walter Mugdan read Gary Savage's Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $19,429.08 as of March 16, 2015.  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report.  The motion was seconded and the report was unanimously approved. 

 

Old Business –

 

Memorial Day Parade is coming.  The theme is the 50th anniversary of the Viet Nam War.  There will be military groups participating and the parade Grand Marshal will be Dr. Loree Sutton.

 

43-20 Glenwood:  Walter Mugdan contacted the owner and architect and encouraged them to show the plans.  They complied, and everything was within the parameters of the deed restrictions.  [Note: in late April what was supposed to be a renovation and expansion of the house that previously existed on this parcel appears to have been largely demolished and new construction is taking place.  While still complying with the setback requirements in the Westmoreland covenants, this may constitute a violation of the NYC building permit.  Several neighbors brought this to the attention of the Association.  Walter Mugdan called 3-1-1 to report the possible permit violation.]

 

The Participatory Budget vote will be held throughout the district.  The closed voting place will be the Douglaston/Little Neck library.  Voting will be from April 11-19 during regular library hours.

 

Some time ago a "Slow Zone" proposal for the Westmoreland area was presented by Walter Mugdan and rejected by the NYC DOT.  However, since the new speed limit of 25 mpg was started this Spring, the  issue is moot.

 

 

NEW Business –

 

CERT – Helena Barsky spoke – CERT is recruiting new members.  There will  be a training program conducted by NYC first responders to get the new recruits up to  speed.

 

Annual Election of Westmoreland Association officers and board members took place.  Walter Mugdan presented the slate of candidates. 

 

Officers:

President – Walter Mugdan

Vice President – Victor Dadras

Treasurer – Gary Savage

Secretary -- Charles Manna

 

Board Members:

David Diaz

Peter Reinharz

Bob Timmerman

Philip Toscano

 

Motion was made to accept the slate.  Passed unanimously.

 

There is a new precinct commander at the 111th.  His name is Deputy Inspector William McBride.  He will be invited to the next meeting.  New Community Affairs officers were rotated in.  They will be invited to the next meeting as well.

 

The next meeting will be held May 11 2015.  (Walter Mugdan will be out of town the following week, so the Association will meet one week earlier than usual.)

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted, Charles Manna, Secretary