Minutes of the November 19, 2018 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

Officers Present: President - Walter Mugdan; Vice President - Victor Dadras; Treasurer – Gary Savage

Board Members Present: Peter Reinharz; David Diaz

Officials Present: Seth Urbinder -- Assemblyman Ed 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 are available for review on the Westmoreland website.)  

 

Gary Savage provided the Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $16568.15 as of November 19, 2018.  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded, and the report was unanimously approved.

 

New Business

 

Walter Mugdan announced that at 7 PM on December 5, Community Board 11 and the 111th NYPD Precinct will host a meeting at the Adria Hotel to inform residents about a series of recent burglaries in our area.

 

Walter introduced our guest speaker, Travis Tench, Director of Outreach for Power Market, who spoke about "the Community Solar option."  This is a program through which individual residential customers can choose to purchase electricity from a solar energy producer, and realize a discount on their total electric bill, without installation of any equipment on their own roof and in an essentially risk-free arrangement.  

 

The program is authorized by New York State and is intended to make it possible for residents who do not have houses suitable for rooftop solar installation (e.g., wrong orientation, too much shading, renters who do not own, etc.) to nevertheless support larger-scale solar projects in their electric service area, and help the state achieve its goal of 50% renewably generated electricity by 2030.

 

The program works as follows: A developer undertakes a larger scale solar installation (e.g., on the roof of a warehouse or a "big box store").  Residents who choose to join the program can sign up to receive an "allocation" or share of the project that matches their anticipated electricity needs.  Each month, as the solar project produces electricity, the resident's ConEd bill will be credited for their proportional share of the actual output of the solar project that month.  This credit amount is subtracted from the resident's Con Ed bill. 

 

The resident then receives a bill from the solar project for 90% of the amount of the Con Ed credit. In other words, for every dollar of credit received on their Con Ed bill, the resident pays 90 cents to the solar company, for a net savings of 10% from Con Ed's usual charge for the number of credited kilowatt hours.

 

Example:   Following is an imaginary scenario, using imaginary numbers, in order to illustrate the process:

 

  • The resident's allocated share of the solar project’s output is 1%.

  • The project generates 50,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) during May, 2019.

  • The resident uses 500 kWh during May, 2019 (which in this example happens to be exactly 1% of the output of the solar project during that month).

  • Con Ed charges 10 cents/kWh during May, 2019.

  • Ordinarily, the resident would pay $50 to purchase electricity that month (500 kWh used X $0.10 per kWh). 

  • However, instead of paying ConEd $50, the resident receives from Con Ed a credit for $50, based on the 1% allocation from the solar project’s output for that month (50,000 kWh x 1% = 500 kWh x $0.10 per kWh = $50). 

  • The resident receives from the solar company a bill for $45, which is 90% of the amount of the credit on the ConEd bill.  The resident saves $5, or 10% of the    cost of electricity for that month.

 

What happens if the resident uses more electricity during the month than their allocation from the solar project?  Suppose the resident uses 600 kWh in May, 2019, but the other imaginary elements in the example above stay the same.  Here's what happens:

 

  • The resident still receives a credit from ConEd for $50, representing the resident's 1% share of the 50,000 kWh output of the solar project.

  • The resident's Con Ed bill includes an additional $10 charge for the extra 100 kWh that the resident used that month (100 extra kWh X $0.10 = $10.00).

  • The resident pays the solar company $45 -- 90% of the $50 credit received on the ConEd bill.

  • In total, the resident pays $55 for electricity that month ($45 to the solar company, and $10 to ConEd).  That is still $5 less than the resident would have           paid to ConEd if not participating in the solar project (600 kWh used that month X $0.10 = $60).

 

What about the other way around -- what happens if the resident uses less electricity during the month than their allocated share from the solar project?  Suppose the resident uses only 400 kWh in May, 2019, but the other imaginary elements in the example above stay the same.  Here's what happens:

 

  • The resident still receives a credit from ConEd for $50, representing the resident's 1% share of the 50,000 kWh output of the solar project.

  • Since the resident only used $40 worth of electricity (400 kWh X $0.10), the resident "banks" the extra $10 credit.

 

What happens if the solar project generates less electricity than expected?  Suppose the resident uses 500 kWh in May, 2019, but the solar project generates only 40,000 kWh that month? In this example, here's what happens:

 

  • The resident receives from ConEd a credit of $40.00 (1% of 40,000 kWh, or 400 kWh). 

  • The resident pays ConEd $10 for the remaining 100 kWh actually used (that is, the difference between the 400 kWh allocation from the solar project, and the 500 kWh actually used that month).

  • The resident pays the solar company $36 (90% of the $40 credit received from ConEd).

  • The resident's total payment that month is $46 ($36 to the solar company plus $10 to ConEd), which is $4 less than the resident would have paid to ConEd if not participating in the solar project.

 

What happens if the solar project stops functioning altogether -- for example, if it is completely destroyed in a major storm? 

 

  • The resident receives no credit from ConEd, and simply pays ConEd, at the normal ConEd price, for any electricity used. 

  • The resident receives no benefit from the solar project, but does not incur any extra costs or penalties on account of the solar project not generating electricity.

 

Additional Information:

 

Allocations are calculated based on a subscriber's historical electricity use and the solar array's expected output (which is based on its size, location, arrangement of panels, angle, surroundings, etc). Whatever the solar array actually produces each month, the resident receives a credit on the Con Ed bill based on the resident's percentage allocation of that production.

 

The solar array output will vary each month based on the season and the daily weather, so the resident's allocated portion will also vary each month.  However, the allocation is designed to generally match the electricity the resident uses over the course of a year. If the allocated portion in a given month exceeds the resident's actual utilization (e.g., in summer when the solar array produces a lot of electricity), then the resident “banks” those credits. If the resident's allocated portion in a given month is less than their actual utilization (e.g., in winter when the solar array produces less), the resident draws from the banked credits.

 

If the resident's circumstances change so that their typical electricity usage changes (e.g., a child moves out of the house and usage goes down; or a child is born and usage increases), then the allocation can be changed.  Allocations are flexible; if energy needs change, the allocation can be changed to keep pace.

 

As noted above, if the solar project stops producing electricity for any reason there is no penalty -- the resident simply receives no credit on the Con Ed bill.  Under such a relatively unlikely circumstance the resident doesn't receive the benefit of the solar project, but the resident would not be in a worse position than if they had never participated in the solar project. 

 

There is no cost to join the solar project, and a participant can leave at any time without penalty (with 90 days notice). 

 

Residents can learn more by calling 212-381-6097 or by visiting info@powermarket.io 

Note that Power Market is not the only company working on the Community Solar option, but it is currently involved in more projects than others.  Residents who are interested in Community Solar are encouraged to contact other companies as well.

The website of the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) is also a helpful resource:  https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All%20Programs/Programs/NY%20Sun/Solar%20for%20Your%20Home/Community%20Solar

Old Business

 

Walter Mugdan thanked all the volunteers who participated on November 10 in the Second Annual Glenwood Landing Park Cleanup and Daffodil Bulb Planting event, sponsored by the Douglaston Garden Club with support from the New York City Parks Department.  Dozens of bags of leaves were collected, and hundreds of daffodil bulbs were planted.

 

Since our September 2018 meetings two hearings have been held regarding the proposed upzoning of several parcels at and near the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Douglaston Parkway.  The upzoning would allow the developer to build 8-story apartment buildings on the parcels in question.  In October, Community Board 11 held a hearing attended by some 300 people, almost all opposed to the upzoning; CB-11 voted unanimously to oppose the upzoning.  In mid-November a hearing was held by the Borough President; numerous residents from the Douglaston area attended; at this writing the Borough President has not yet issued a recommendation on the matter.  Walter Mugdan and Victor Dadras explained that spot upzoning is an inappropriate and precedentially dangerous way in which to effectuate permission for the developer to build something other than a one-family house on these parcels.  Walter and Victor suggested that a variance would be the appropriate way for the developer to receive permission to build something suitable for these locations. For the parcel on the corner, that might be permission to build, e.g., a 2- or 3-story commercial building (similar to the buildings on two of the other corners at this intersection).  By contrast, he proposed upzoning creates a worrisome precedent for any other parcel on or near Northern Boulevard: if these parcels at Douglaston Parkway can be upzoned, why not any other such parcel?  Spot rezoning of this sort undermines the more orderly, principled approach to area zoning.  We expect there will be two further hearings on the proposed upzoning -- one before the City Planning Commission and the final, hearing before the City Council (which is the ultimate deciding authority on this matter).

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 PM.

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Minutes of the September 17, 2018 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

 

Officers Present: President - Walter Mugdan; Vice President - Victor Dadras; Treasurer – Gary Savage; Secretary – Charles Manna

Board Members Present: Peter Reinharz; David Diaz; Phil Toscano; Peter Reinharz; John Duane

Officials Present: Jason Antonopoulos -- Assemblyman Ed Braunstein’s office; Ahmed Nassir – Councilman Paul Vallone’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 are available for review on the Westmoreland website.)  

 

Gary Savage provided the Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $16,349.66 as of September 17, 2018.  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded, and the report was unanimously approved.

 

New Business

Work on the house at 251-20 41Drive:  Has completed the renovations of the front of the house and is now in compliance with the Rickert-Finley covenants.  The Association's legal costs totaled $6,776.76.  Fortunately, the additional court costs were avoided because the family agreed to comply just before we took the step to file a lawsuit in the courts.  The offending part of the construction in front of the house was removed and replaced by the original configuration.  Discussion follows:

Question: Can the Westmoreland Homeowners Association be reimbursed for our legal expenses?

Answer – No.  The “American Rule” states that loser is not compelled to reimburse the opponent in a civil court case.  Our Association was reimbursed in a prior case because the defendant didn’t comply with the judge’s order; in an action to compel compliance with a previous judgment, the plaintiff can collect costs from the defendant.

 

The house on 41 Drive at corner of Glenwood Street: construction has been on and off for two years. Currently, it has resumed. 

House on Morgan and 41 Drive.  Doing  work on Garage without permits.

 

House at 42-11 Westmoreland Street – work seems to be finished.  But, a work permit is still posted there.

 

House at 250-20 43 Ave – the entire front lawn is paved over.  A violation of the Building Department rules.

 

House at Little Neck Parkway and 39 Ave.  The entire front lawn is paved over. A  violation of the Building Department rules.

 

New Business.

 

Glenwood Landing Park – The Douglaston Garden Club will sponsor a park cleanup and daffodil bulb planting on October 27, 2018 starting at 9 AM.  Please come and join us, even if you can only spend a short time there.  The Parks Department will provide tools and cleanup items.

 

Primary Election – John Liu won the Democratic primary for the State Senate seat over incumbent Tony Avella.  Whoever wins the general election will be invited to attend (or send a representative to attend) one of our meetings.  [The Westmoreland Association does not endorse candidates in either primary or general elections, but we always reach out to our local elected officials and seek to establish relationships with them.]

 

Several months ago, State Sen. Avella notified us about the New York City "Tree and Sidewalk Repair Program."  This program, which is free, shifts the burden of responsibility for broken sidewalks due to damage from the roots of City trees back to the City for repair.  Sidewalks are evaluated by the City Parks Department, and are given a rating on a scale of100 (with 100 being the worst damage).  The closer the score is to 100, the sooner your sidewalk will be fixed by the City at no cost to you.  To enroll, go to: https://www.nycgovparks.org/services/forestry/trees-sidewalks-program  .

 

NYC DOT – Speed Humps – We requested that one or more speed humps be put on Morgan Street between Northern Boulevard and 41st Drive.  In late June the City Transportation Department notified us that they are still considering the matter.

 

Outside our neighborhood:  A contractor has applied for a variance to construct a high-rise on the corner of Douglaston Parkway and Northern Blvd.  Also, a proposal has been presented to the building department to construct a smaller apartment building on Douglaston Parkway between two buildings just north of Northern Blvd.  The Douglaston Civic Association may take a position regarding these proposals and file a response at the next Community Board meeting.  The buildings will have some indoor parking space, but not for every unit.  The worry is that the congestion in the neighborhood will get worse.

 

Ahmed Nassir, representing Councilman Vallone, reported that the fourth cycle of the Participatory Budget process will begin in November.  Our Council District had the most votes cast in the previous round of Participatory Budgeting.  (Note that voters now have the option to vote on-line.)

 

Safety on the 39th Avenue, the street immediately south of the Long Island Railroad -- we are on record supporting:

  1.  Cross-walk painting

  2. Stop-sign signage

  3. Better lighting

[At his suggestion, we subsequently wrote to Ahmed Nassir from Councilman Vallone's office asking for the Councilman's assistance in urging the Transportation Department to take these actions.]

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 PM.

 

Respectfully submitted,  Charles Manna, Secretary

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Minutes of the May 21, 2018 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

Officers Present: President - Walter Mugdan: Vice President - Victor Dadras: Treasurer – Gary Savage: Secretary – Charles Manna

Board Members Present: Peter Reinharz; David Diaz; Phil Toscano; Robert Timmerman; John Duane

Officials Present: Jason Antonopoulos, Assemblyman Ed 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 are available for review on the Westmoreland website.)  

Gary Savage provided the Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $16,277.56 as of May 21, 2018.  (2018 dues payments received within the previous week were not yet included in this report.)  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded, and the report was unanimously approved.

Report on Park Cleanups

Alley Pond Park:  There was a cleanup on March 24 for the upper park.

Glenwood Landing Park: On April 21 members of the Douglaston Garden Club joined Westmoreland Association volunteers in to spruce up the park for the spring, planting an azalea and a number of creeping phlox plants.  (Last fall Laura Toscano, a local high school student, collaborated with the Garden Club on a project to improve this park, including planting hundreds of daffodils.)

Udalls Cove Park: The 49th annual wetlands and woodlands clean-up was on April 28; over 70 volunteers collected 30 cubic yards of trash.

New Business

State Senator Tony Avella has asked residents to report on the  condition of trees in the area, and notes that there is a sidewalk tree program: www.nycparks.gov/services/forestry/trees/sidewalksprogram

Also, Rainbarrels will be distributed June9th at Little Bay Park parking lot..  People who reserved one must pick them up between 9:30 and 10:30. After that, it will be first come, first serve.

Participatory Budget Program – four projects won:

  1. NYPD security camera – do be used in undisclosed locations

  2. Bayside High School – new student lockers

  3. PS 41 – Electrical upgrade

  4. Whitestone library – upgrades.

 

111th Precinct –

  1. The new C.O is Captain John Hall.

  2. The Precinct is now divided up into four sectors.  Each sector will have two permanent offices assigned plus twelve others will rotate in.  This is part of an effort to create a more community-based policing.

  3. John Erdman is the community affairs officer.

  4. COMPSTAT – Since the police did not attend tonight meeting Walter read the latest stats.  There were 219 felonies in the past 12 months.  That number is down from 294 this time last year.

 

Resident Joe Salvamini reports that there is continuing parking issues on the streets in front and along side PS94.  Busses in front of PS 94 block the view of cars turning onto Little Neck Parkway from 41 Drive.  Double-parked and illegally parked cars block the view ot turning cars and the flow of traffic onto the streets.  There should be a parking restriction of at least one car length at each corner so that turning cars can safely view oncoming traffic.

 

Motion made, seconded and passed – to remove one parking space at 42nd Ave and Little Neck Parkway and at 41st Drive and Little Neck Parkway.  The spaces would be on both the Street side and the  Avenue side of  each intersection. Also, to  paint exclusion Grids at each parking spot.  [Written request was sent to the NYC Dep't. of Transportation on May 26; a copy has been posted on our website.]

 

Vandalism on Westmoreland: 

There have been four or five instances of cars being “keyed” on Westmoreland between 41st and 42nd Avenues.  The perpetrator has been able to stay out of the line of sight of security cameras that are posted on several of the houses located on the block. The Association has emailed members asking that residents who have had such damage done to their cars let us know, and also call 3-1-1 to report these incidents  The Association will also notify the Community Affairs Officer of the 111th Precinct. 

 

One member questioned whether the incidents might perhaps be race-related; however, based on the responses to the Association's email inquiry it appears that the damaged   cars do not belong to any particular ethnic group.  The incidents seem to be related more by location.

 

Additional Stop Signs:

Motion made by Peter Reinharz to add additional  stop signs on 41st Drive and Westmoreland Street and 41st Drive and Morgan Street to help slow  the cars that are taking advantage of our streets to avoid traffic on Northern Blvd.  Seconded and passed.  [Written request was sent to the NYC Dep't. of Transportation on May 26; a copy has been posted on our website.]

 

Old Business:

 

250-21 41 Drive:

The house is in violation of the covenants. The attorney representing the board, Ms. Nicolosi, prepared papers to file with the courts.  She notified the homeowner's lawyer (as required) the day before she was to file the papers; the attorney notified her that the homeowner was prepared to eliminate the violation.  The Board of Directors considered the matter carefully and accepted the offer, with a few specific conditions.

 

This case has cost the Association over $6,600.  Unfortunately, the Association is confronted with a similar need to resort to the courts (or almost so, as in this case) approximately once every twenty-five years or so.  And these are invariably expensive undertakings.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted, Charles Manna, Secretary

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Minutes of the March 19, 2018 General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Homeowners Association

 

Officers Present: President - Walter Mugdan: Vice President - Victor Dadras;Treasurer – Gary Savage; Secretary – Charles Manna

 

Board Members Present: Phil Toscano; Peter Reinharz

Officials Present: Ahmed Nazaar from Councilman Paul Vallone’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 are available for review on the Westmoreland website.)  

 

Gary Savage provided the Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $22,152.63 as of March 19 2018.  (2018 dues payments received within the previous week were not yet included in this report.)  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded, and the report was unanimously approved.

 

New Business

The Westmoreland Homeowners Association nominated the following current officers to serve for the coming year:

 

President - Walter Mugdan

Vice President - Victor Dadras

Treasurer – Gary Savage

Secretary – Charles Manna

Motion was made, seconded and passed to accept the candidates as nominated

 

The current Directors of the Westmoreland Association were re-nominated to serve for the coming year.  In addition, a new candidate, Namshik Yoon, was nominated to be a Director.  A motion was made, seconded and passed unanimously to accept the slate as the new Board of Directors.  The members are:

 

David Diaz

Phil Toscano

Robert Timmerman

Peter Reinharz

John Duane

Namshik Yoon

Three Park Cleanups Scheduled –

Alley Pond Park -  A cleanup is scheduled for Sunday, March 24 from 7:30 to  9:30 for the upper park – The entrance to the lot is near the Sanitation Department building on Winchester.

Glenwood Landing Park – Saturday, April 21,2018.  Laura Toscano, a local high school student, led a project involving the improvement of the Glenwood Landing Park last October 28, 2017.  Laura and members of the Douglaston Manor Garden club will join volunteers in the morning from 7:30 to 9:30 at the park to spruce it up for the Spring.

Udalls Cove – the 49th Annual clean-up will be Saturday, April 28th at 10:00 AM.  Meet at Aurora Pond on the "Back Road" (Sandhill Road) between Douglaston and Little Neck, west of the Little Neck LIRR Station.  There will be a free lunch at Memorial Field in Douglas Manor. 

 

Old Business

250-21 41 Drive:

The house is in violation of the covenants.  Specifically,  the setback should be 20 feet from the front line, but new construction started last June or July extends to within 15 feet.  The addition is in violation by at least five feet.  Currently, the house has halted renovations, including additions at the front and back of the house.  Our attorney is Maura Nicolosi, who also has represented the Douglas Manor Association and the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association in connection with their efforts to enforce their similar Rickert-Finlay covenants. Ms. Nicolosi has prepared papers to file with the courts.  Hopefully, this will motivate the homeowner to come into compliance.  The homeowner's attorney will be notified shortly before the lawsuit is filed, providing one last chance for the homeowner to provide a binding, written commitment to comply by a reasonable date certain. This might make it unnecessary to actually file the lawsuit.

 

A $3,500 retainer will be paid to Ms. Nicolosi.  Given the current prevailing rates for legal services, the money will be spent quickly if we are forced to move forward, and we will need to spend more of our available funds, and will likely need to do additional fundraising.  We are hoping that this will not be necessary.

 

Westmoreland and 41Drive:

The new construction there has been halted since last Fall.  Victor Dadras spoke with the architect and the general contractor.  The architect, Edward Lui, confirms that he owner intends to finish the project.  The contractor, Sweeny Lee, claims that the construction was halted due to cold winter weather, and will finally resume within the next few weeks.  There is concern that there may have been severe damage to the structure since there is no proper roof nor windows. 

254-17 40 Ave

The house is in poor, if not derelict, condition.  Residents have contacted 311 on several occasions to complain about neglected lawns and the use of the driveway for commercial vehicles.  The renovations were started 20 to 25 years age, but never finished, and the house is standing empty.  The current owner is not living in the house.  They moved away many years ago.  One spouse is believed to have died.

Northern Blvd Bike Lane

We wrote to the DOT supporting the creation of the new bike lane and barriers along the quarter-mile stretch from Douglaston Parkway to the Joe Michaels mile.  So far, the only criticism is the pile-up of trash on both sides of the barriers.  Mr. Mugdan will contact the DOT to ask the they be maintained and kept clean.

 

Speed Humps

We asked DOT to install  a speed hump  on  Morgan Street.  We are hoping for a response in the next month (it was due in January, 2018).  So far, speed humps were installed on 39th Ave and on Gleenwood, in response to our request. 

 

We asked Ahmed Nassir to ask Councilman Vallone to support our longstanding request that a four-way stop be installed at the intersection of Westmoreland Street and 41st Road Ave.

 

Participatory Budgeting

Ahmed Nazaar from Paul Vallone’s office reported that the projects have been identified and cost estimates provided.  The voting will begin April 7th and continue to April 15th.  Ballots will be made available and, for the first time, on-line voting will be available.  Namshik Yoon inquired  why are we voting to budget capital items that should be funded by the city departments that are responsible for them?  Ahmed replied this is because of the limited funds  that are available, and the potentially different priorities among agencies and local communities.

 

District residents sixteen year or older can vote for as many as five of the projects.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted, Charles Manna, Secretary