YONKERS, NY — September 17, 2012 — The latest chapter of a three-years plus alleged non-compliance by Sprain Road Associates Inc., an open air building material site, located at 1014 Saw Mill River Road, in the Homefield section of Yonkers continued its seemingly long tale
of subterfuge before Honorable Judge Joan B. Lefkowitz, on Friday, September 15, 2012. Michael Khader, Esq., representing James M. Rogan, owner of Sprain Road Associates Inc., and Joseph A. Maria, Esq., representing the City of Yonkers, had barely gotten their respective footing before the judge when Mr Maria exclaimed in horror, “Your Honor, I have received disturbing news that more material is being dumped… and there is a threat of their going out of business … Time is of the essence… There is personal liability…”
Judge Lefkowitz focused on Mr Khader who up to that point seemingly feigned interest and childlike concern at every word Mr Maria expressed. It was at that exact moment that Judge Lefkowitz said, “ I can’t believe you are doing this… you are not in compliance with my last ruling!”
Without a shred of concern, remorse or even an increase in pitch to his voice for those innocently affected, Mr Khader non-chalantly responded by saying, “ Your honor, 48 people are let go… we are closing!”
Mr Maria, whose worse fears were being realized beseeched the Honorable Lefkowitz to impose an order from that day forward forbidding any transport to and/or from the building material holding facility.
Judge Lefkowitz was quick to respond saying, “Have the transcript written and I will sign it!”
Mr Maria advised later that afternoon that he did indeed follow the protocol set
for him by Justice Lefkowitz and that a “Stay” forbidding any transport to and/or
from the facility was to be conducted until the next ruling by the court
reconvenes. The case is expected to again come before the court in October or
It was three plus years ago that Mr Rogan came before the City of Yonkers to ask for a variance be afforded him on his property then used as an auto wrecking site,
and on the adjacent rental property which is owned by Joe Ciunciulli, but is in
its entirety the grounds used for the purpose of housing and storing building
material. The variance was granted. The variance stipulated a maximum 10-foot
high wall tracing the property line be built to confine the building material
within its operating area. A visual measurement attributes the height of the
wall to be 8 to 10 times the permitted stipulation, that is between 80 to 100
feet, instead of the maximum permitted 10-foot height.
Editor’s Note: Joe Cianciulli is the Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman. It is before the Zoning Board of Appeals that a variance is granted or denied.
One would suppose that members of the Homefield Neighborhood Association would reside in proximity to the facility, upon noticing the perimeter wall boundary being increased in stages over time to higher levels, would have lodged complaints in search of remedy. They did voice and lodge complaints but were stymied by a process that dismissed their plight as less worthy than their businessman adversary. The process did initially acquiesce to their consternation and ire. In time, they found the system geared against them.
Yonkers Building Inspectors would fine the operator, but it was to no avail. The cost imposed by the court was $2,500 and a time span within which remedy was to be concluded by compliance to court ruling. When it was not, the process would
repeat itself year, after nauseatingly irritating year after year. When such
time as the next court appearance was demanded and compliance not accomplished, an additional $2,500 fine was imposed. In the meantime, the height of the wall continued to be raised higher. The court would repeat its admonitions. The alleged culprit noted they did not abide by the courts decree. They never said
they were sorry. They were afforded and extension to remedy their ways. They
departed the courtroom with a swagger that could be deciphered to mean they
knew they had swallowed the canary.
The dumping of material and moving it about within the confined area created clouds of dust when the winds so chose, caught the dust and debris and hurled it about at will. Sometimes allowing it to alight a porch, perhaps indoor rooms where a window was left ajar to greet Mother Nature’s cooling, soothing winds. Too
often the neighbors were vulnerable to the assault they suffered to their nasal
cavaties, their eyes, their homes. It may be said that only the local dry
cleaner and Laundromat were beneficiaries of the circumstances that continued
unabated and unresolved. In fact, one family has moved out of the area, selling their home and departing Yonkers because the quality of life had diminished so, and the standards that were claimed demanded to be adhered to did not bring remedy to the plight of seeming indifference they has suffered too long.
It is being said that once, now former Mayor Phil Amicone directed legal action be
taken further scrutiny by the Buildings Department was neutered. It was out of
their hands. They had no further say in the matter; it was now an issue before
the courts and it was they who would pass judgment and a final decision.
A May or June 2012 meeting of the Homefield Neighborhood Association invited Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, Yonkers City Councilman John Larkin, Yonkers Chief of Staff Steve Levy, and Yonkers Corporation Counsel Michael Curti to be afforded an update regarding the neighborhood’s concerns and quandary. Acting Commissioner William J. Schneider was also in attendance. City Hall advised the association to await the court appearance described herein.
The concept of turning the other cheek has again failed for those seeking remedy
from those who have the impertinence to step beyond the intent and letter of
the law. This scenario proves without a doubt that Yonkers Corporation Counsel
does not posses the tools to enforce compliance; that the Variances granted by
the Zoning Board of Appeals can do nothing to achieve, much less sustain
compliance by its impotent nature, and that the Yonkers City Charter must be
appended to contend with the loopholes that promote the ability of one to
trample on the rights of the public good and their quality of life by those who
have the temerity, the gall, to dismiss even the courts by scoffing at their
verbose edicts that cannot bring balance to the equation of a system fraught
with inequity and disrespect of The People.