The Westmoreland area Protective Covenants are copied immediately below. Scroll down to learn more about how these Covenants affect you and your property, and how they are enforced.
Covenants Contained in the Deeds for All Properties in the Westmoreland Development
And the party of the second part covenants with the party of the first part as hereinafter stated in paragraphs numbered first to thirteenth, both inclusive (the blocks, lots and streets mentioned in said paragraphs being such as are shown on the map hereinbefore referred to) and the said covenants and restrictions contained in said paragraphs shall run with the land and be binding upon the party of the second part, its assigns and its or their heirs and grantees, excepting however, that all or any of the said covenants and restrictions may at any time be altered or annulled as to all the lots fronting or abutting upon both sides of any one street between the intersection therewith of two other streets by written agreement by and between the party of the first part, its successors or assigns and the owner or owners for the time being of three fourths of the lots upon which it is agreed to alter or annul said covenants and restrictions and such agreement shall be effectual to alter or annul such covenants and restrictions as to said premises without the consent of the owner or owners of more than 3/4 of said lots or the consent of the owner or owners of any adjacent premises.
1: No house or business building shall be erected costing less than $3,000.00.
2: No lot or building erected thereon shall be used for any manufacturing or business purpose whatever except in blocks 1 and 2 and lots 5 to 18 inclusive of Block 13 which shall be known as the "Business Section".
3: No building shall be erected in the business sections having less than 2 stories above the street grade. No building shall be erected in said sections unless the first story shall be of stone, brick, terra cotta or concrete construction.
4: No lot or building erected thereon shall be used for the sale of liquors. This restriction does not apply to hotels or restaurants located in the business sections or to a club house owned by a membership corporation.
5: No lot or building in the business sections shall be used for any business which shall constitute a nuisance.
6: No building of any character of less than 3 stories in height having what is known as a "flat roof" shall be erected except in the business sections.
7: No house shall be erected on a plot of less than 2 inside lots or a corner plot of less than 3 lots except in the business sections. This restriction however, shall not prevent the erection of a double house, that is 2 houses having a common wall between them, provided that such house shall be erected on a plot of not less than 3 lots and have not less than 10 feet between it and the nearest adjoining house.
8: No house except in the business sections shall be erected to front on any street except that on which the lots front.
9: No building shall be erected nearer than 20 feet to the side street line of any lot except in the business sections. Porches, piazzas and porte cocheres are excepted from this restriction.
10: No building shall be erected nearer than 20 feet to the front line of any lot except in the business sections. Porches, piazzas and porte cocheres are excepted from this.
11: No stable or other outbuilding shall be erected nearer then 60 feet to the front line of any lot except in the business sections.
12: No stable shall be erected on any corner lot in the business sections.
13: No fence except hedge or shrubbery will be permitted within 20 feet of the front line or side street line of any lot.
Do These Covenants Apply To My Property?
If your property is within the Westmoreland community shown on the MAP, the answer is YES (unless the property is in one of the areas with cross-hatching). The Covenants may or may not be listed in your deed; but even if they are not listed in your deed, they still apply. The Covenants should also have been identified in the title report you probably received when you bought your property; but even if they are not listed there, the Covenants still apply. A thorough title search, going back to the original Rickert-Finlay subdivision in 1906, will reveal the Covenants, and they remain applicable to this day.
You own the Covenants!
The Covenants are a property right that each of us in the community owns. They increase the value of your property because they help maintain the friendly character and attractiveness of the community. For example, the prohibition against fences closer than 20 feet from the front line or side street line (Covenant #13) ensures that the community has open, welcoming vistas. The requirement that homes be set back at least 20 feet from the front line or side street line (Covenants #9 and 10) also adds to the open character of the neighborhood; and the minimum size of a building parcel (Covenant #7) does the same. (Click here to see photos of our inviting streetscapes.)
Because you own the Covenants, you have the legal right to defend them. But defending the Covenants can be expensive and time consuming. That's where the Westmoreland Association comes in -- defending our Covenants is the organization's primary purpose.
How does the Westmoreland Association defend our Covenants?
At least four times since the Association was founded in 1917 the Westmoreland Association has had to go to court to ensure compliance with our protective Covenants. Since the first time in the 1930s, the courts have consistently confirmed that the Covenants are as valid as when they were written, and that the Westmoreland Association has the legal right to defend them.
One of our major battles started in 1987 and lasted eight years. Unscrupulous developers bought and demolished a house on 41st Drive, and then started building three new houses in its place. The three new houses were only set back 15 feet from the front line - in compliance with City zoning rules at the time, but in violation of our Covenant #10. The developers intentionally planned to violate the Covenants, and even testified in court they believed nobody could stop them. To make matters worse, the houses were specially designed so conversion for illegal 2- or even 3-family occupancy would have been easy. As soon as construction began and we saw what they were doing, we asked the developers to comply with our Covenants, but they refused. So we went to court, as we had done in previous decades, and we won a complete victory. The developers appealed, and we won again. But still the developers didn't carry out the court's order to remove the entire structures of the three houses, and comply with the 20' setback when rebuilding. We had to go back to court yet again to enforce the order -- and we won again. Today there are three lovely homes there, and they all conform to our Covenants. We welcome our neighbors who bought them, as we do all newcomers to the community.
In 2001 we had to go to court to enforce Covenant #13, which prohibits fences closer than 20 feet to the front line or side street line (on a corner property). During the late 1990's the Westmoreland Association identified a small number of properties among the 330 in our neighborhood with fences that are too close to the front or side street property lines. In 1998 we wrote to the owners of each of those properties, asking them to remove the non-complying portions of their fences. We even offered to contribute to the cost of removing or relocating the fences. A significant number of owners complied with our request, but not all. Among the owners with whom we communicated in 1998 was one who had recently built a large fence immediately adjacent to the sidewalk along the side lot line of his corner property. We met with and wrote to him several times in 1998 and 1999 asking him to correct the violation, but he refused. In September 1999 we filed a lawsuit against him. A trial was scheduled for October, 2001. The day before the trial was to begin, the owner signed a Stipulation acnowledging the violation and agreeing to cure it fully. Shortly thereafter, in November 2001, he removed the fence and later replaced it with an attractive hedge of shrubs (allowed under the Covenant).
In 2017 a homeowner hired a contractor to build extensions on a house on 41st Drive. As soon as construction started it was apparent that the front extension would extend closer than 20 feet from the front line. We immediately communicated with the owner, the contractor and the architect to notify them of the violation of Covenant #10, but they didn't agree to comply. Instead, they offered money to the Association if we would allow the construction to continue. We refused, of course. (It's important to understand that THE WESTMORELAND ASSOCIATION HAS NO LEGAL AUTHORITY TO AGREE TO A VIOLATION OF THE COVENANTS. Even if we tried to do so, every individual member of the community could independently act to enforce the Covenants.) When the owner still refused to comply, we prepared to go to court. The evening before the lawsuit was to be filed, our attorney notified the owner's attorney that litigation was about to begin ... and then, finally, the owner agreed to comply. The design of the extension was modified and the construction was completed properly (and looks beautiful).
There are a very few properties within the Westmoreland community where there is non-compliance with one of the Covenants. For example, in a small handful of places there is a fence closer than 20' from the front or side line. These instances arose many decades ago, during a time when the Westmoreland Association was not as vigilant as it might have been. Those few instances of non-compliance are now "grandfathered," meaning we may have lost the chance to legally enforce the relevant Covenant(s) as they relate to those properties. (If such a property is later brought into compliance, we expect thereafter to be able to enforce the relevant Covenant to ensure continued compliance going forward.)
Since the 1980s we have regularly reminded owners of their rights and responsibilities, and we have acted promptly when we learn of a possible violation. Every year we reprint a copy of the Covenants in the letter we send all residents announcing our March general membership meeting, and the letter reminds everyone of their obligation to comply. When we become aware of new construction or exterior renovations planned or underway in our community, we contact the owner and builder to make sure they are aware of our Covenants. We encourage them to share their plans with us in advance so we can confirm they comply with the Covenants, and several times we've been able to help a builder avoid a problem by pointing out where a change needs to be made. Our goal is to avoid having to go to court -- voluntary compliance is in everyone's best interest.
Who Pays to Enforce our Covenants?
A lawsuit is very expensive. Several times during the past century, many people in the community contributed substantial amounts of their hard-earned money to make these legal victories possible; and several of our members who are attorneys donated large amounts of their personal and professional time. They did it because they knew that the investment was worth the return. Ask any professional real estate agent -- they will tell you that one reason the Westmoreland community is so desirable, and has such high property values, is because of the qualities derived from our protective Covenants, and because of our demonstrated willingness to do what's necessary to defend them.
Two other communities in Queens -- Douglas Manor and Broadway-Flushing -- were also developed by the Rickert-Finlay Company, and are protected by similar Covenants. Like the residents of the Westmoreland community, the residents of these two communities value their Covenants and work hard through their homeonwers associations to defend and protect them. Each of our three communities have benefitted from the legal efforts of the others; a legal victory by one helps the other two as well.