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A line between neighborhoods; a developer plans to cross it

By Fritz Mayer
May 18, 2011

As promised, James Bacon, an attorney representing property owners in the neighborhood called Beechwood, produced a letter from a title company that said that a five-foot boundary created during a land dispute back in the 1930s cannot legally be breached.

The adjacent neighborhood is Plum Beach, and developer Shaya Boymelgreen wants to take two driveways in Beechwood and turn them into roads to Plum Beach. Armed with the letter, Bacon asked the Bethel Planning Board to rescind the negative declaration it granted to the developer’s project as part of the state environmental quality review process.

Planning board chairman Dan Gettel said the board needed time to review the letter, and could not act immediately on it.
Further, Boymelgreen’s attorney, Elisabeth Cassidy, said she, too, had an opinion from a title company, which said that the developer could breach the boundary. Cassidy also maintained that the boundary question was a matter for the courts, and not for the planning board.

Asked for the specific details that would allow the boundary to be breached, Cassidy said, “Let’s just say I have an opinion from a title company.” Bacon said he saw nothing in the records that would allow it.

The other issue is whether the driveways can be turned into roads without the consent and agreement of all of the property owners in the neighborhood, which Bacon said is the case.
The matter may well be settled in court. On May 5, Bacon filed an Article 78 lawsuit against the planning board, the town board and the developer, in part because according to the lawsuit, the planning board had no authority to issue a negative declaration because the owner had no legal way to access the property.

Boymelgreen has been attempting to build homes on 28 acres he owns since 2008. According to the lawsuit, “The project site is characterized by steep slopes, wetlands and difficult terrain.” Faced with the problem of sewage disposal, Boymelgreen petitioned the town board to changes its code to allow the town to grant sewer waivers. In October 2010, the town board complied.

In January 2011, the board granted Boymelgreen a waiver from the town’s sewer law, and agreed to allow him to build a “shallow trench sewer system” to serve the homes that he intends to build in the four-lot subdivision.

The lawsuit says, “The town board knew or should have known that the controversial subdivision had significant environmental issues and that ingress and egress through the Beechwood Community was contested.”