WHITE LAKE, NY — Developer Shaya Boymelgreen, who has been attempting to gain permits to create a four-lot subdivision since at least 2011, is now asking the town board to grant waivers to the …
WHITE LAKE, NY — Developer Shaya Boymelgreen, who has been attempting to gain permits to create a four-lot subdivision since at least 2011, is now asking the town board to grant waivers to the normal requirements for septic systems, so that he might instead install “shallow trench” or “alternative” septic systems to serve four houses in the neighborhood called Plum Beach, on the shore of White Lake.
At the town meeting on July 8, the town board accepted the application for waivers as complete, and passed a resolution to send the application to the town planning board for comment.
Members of the neighboring community of Beechwood, who have waged a legal battle against Boymelgreen, turned out to the meeting to express opposition to the construction project and the septic waiver.
Veronica Payne Foster, a resident who initiated the first lawsuit against Boymelgreen, noted that his plan calls for the first home to be 12,000 square feet. She said, “The proposed building is a 12,000-square-foot house… If he has 20 bedrooms in that house, can the septic support that?”
The planning board has labeled the project a minor subdivision rather that a major subdivision, and Foster described a meeting at which those involved debated which label it should have. Foster said one person at the meeting said, “If it’s a major subdivision, we might have a little trouble getting them all the waivers that they want,” and it was subsequently called a minor subdivision.
Foster also said, “Every other house in Bethel has a driveway that leads to the nearest road, and we’re actually allowing these houses to exist in an enclave, because they are part of a so-called family, but this family is also a billionaire development company.”
She also said the existing septic systems in the area are inadequate, and she invited Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm to visit the area after a couple of days of rain when the smell of sewage could be detected. Board member Bernie Cohen confirmed that he had smelled the sewage.
Members of the Beechwood community are in the midst of shoring up the lakeside road that trucks must travel over to get to the Plum Beach development. The repair involves placing six- to nine-inch rocks between the road and the lake, and in some cases under the road, to shore it up. This is done by hand by residents of the community, in accordance with a permit from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. One resident said, “They’re coming in with 80,000-pound trucks, constantly going over our roads, bus loads of kids and they won’t give us any money to repair our roads. Lakeshore Drive is undermined by the crushing weight of these 80,000 and 100,000 pound vehicles.”
A resident also questioned whether Boymelgreen was being honest about his plans. He said, “The first house he built, when I walked in that house three years ago—and I addressed the board then—there were 10 rooms upstairs. They were all 10 by 10, and not one had a closet, but he was saying they’re bedrooms. They’re classrooms, and every day they’ve got a bunch of kids coming in buses, and what are they doing? They’re not staying outside; they’re inside. It’s a little yeshiva.”
That would not, in itself, necessarily be a violation of town zoning, because both neighborhoods are in a Residential Settlement district, and houses of worship and public and private schools are allowed with the approval of the building department.
Boymelgreen can subdivide his property two more times, and the second phase of the project is to begin within five years. Previously, attorneys representing Beechwood resident Dan Silna advised the planning board this needs to be addressed, and if it’s not addressed and the project moves forward, the planning board may be in violation of the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
At the meeting, Sturm said the board was performing due diligence on the matter, but he also said, “according to the town code, a developer is allowed to ask for a [septic] waiver from the town board.” Sturm also said the board has not yet determined if it will hold a public hearing on the waivers.
Earlier in the process, Boymelgreen lost a legal battle in the Supreme Court and Appellate Court over access issues to his property. It’s possible that if the town board grants the septic waivers, it will face a lawsuit from Beechwood residents, and if it denies them, it will face a lawsuit from the developer.
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