YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Neighbors of the new Lowe’s on Crompond Road say the developer that is building it is going back on a promise to build and pay for sewer connections to their homes.
Numerous documents, dating back to 2011, indicate that Breslin Realty, a Garden City-based developer, had intended to connect 12 properties to the new sewer line it was building. At the time, Costco was the expected tenant of the Crompond Road properties.
Though that project fell apart, Breslin Realty, doing business as Retail Store Construction Company Inc. and then as Yorktown Jaz LLC, used the same environmental studies that were used in the approval of Costco. Part of those environmental studies includes a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Findings Statement, which was approved by the Town Board on April 7, 2015. The approved Findings Statement reads:
“The Sewer District Extension would provide service to 12 properties from the Old Crompond Road intersection with Stony Street to Route 202 to the east... [Breslin Realty] will, as part of the proposed action, remove or decommission the existing septic systems and construct new connections from the sewer trunk line to be located in the Old Crompond Road right-of-way to each of the homes.”
Prior to the approval of this Findings Statement, Al Capellini, an attorney for Breslin Realty, submitted a petition to the Town Board on Dec. 31, 2014. The petition called for the creation of Hunterbrook Sewer District Extension No. 20, which included the Costco site and the residential property owners on Old Crompond Road.
The petition was signed by all property owners, as well as Wilbur F. Breslin, president of Breslin Realty.
At the public hearing to create this sewer district extension on March 17, 2015, Capellini said, “The Costco developer has in the petition stated that he will pay for the construction costs to put in the trunk line and to actually make connections to each of the homes that are in the district.”
He further stated that the new sewer extension would be an environmental benefit because the current septic systems were antiquated and were draining into the Hunter Brook.
“So, this is really a home run for the town and for the watershed,” Capellini said.
Chris Hanzlik, a consultant with TRC Engineers, confirmed that Breslin Realty “will be picking up and running service connections to all of the Old Crompond Road properties that are part of the petition.”
For decades, the area in which the Old Crompond Road residents live has been targeted for commercial and residential development. The area, which is located between Route 202 and the Bear Mountain Parkway Extension, just west of the Taconic State Parkway, is referred to as the Bear Mountain Triangle.
The town’s own master plan, which guides planning in Yorktown, envisions a new hamlet center in the Bear Mountain Triangle, which was rezoned in 2016 to accommodate a mixed-use development.
“The plan also recognized the need for infrastructure to enable this vision to become reality,” resident Ann Kutter said at the March 17, 2015 meeting.
“The town will never have a better opportunity to move its vision forward,” Kutter added.
Then Supervisor Michael Grace agreed, saying, “As far as I’m concerned, I think that Ann Kutter’s remark was absolutely right on point.”
“I think we’re starting to see what the vision has been for this town for over 30 years,” he continued. “Finally, the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. I think it’s an opportunity that the town should not pass up, so we should move expeditiously on it.”
Indeed, the Town Board unanimously approved Hunterbrook Sewer District Extension No. 20 at its next meeting, as well as the Findings Statement that included maps detailing the new residential sewer connections.
Now, Grace is out of office and representing Breslin Realty in its dispute against Kutter and other Old Crompond Road property owners. The developer is in the process of building the new Lowe’s and is installing a new sewer line with “spur” connections at each of the homes. The pipes would be placed at the edge of the property line to provide the homeowners with access to the sewer line. As to who is responsible for connecting to the homes to the spur pipe is where the dispute lies.
“[Breslin Realty] is trying to get a handle on what their obligation is,” Grace said. “It’s not clear and it could be very open-ended. It could be a spur to the property line to redoing the plumbing. It’s just a matter of trying to zero in on what the obligation is.”
Grace said the Findings Statement that said Breslin Realty would “provide service” to the properties and “remove or decommission the existing septic systems and construct new connections” is “ambiguous.”
“Breslin will live up to what its obligations are,” Grace said. “I think it’s a matter of defining what that obligation is.”
Grace said the spur connections were mandated by the Westchester County Health Department. Beyond that, he said, it may be the homeowner’s responsibility to make the connection to the spur.
“The problem is that it’s very ambiguous as to what the obligation was,” Grace said. “Putting the spurs to the property line is no issue. You’ve got a lot of practical logistics to work out and legal logistics to work out. It never was well-defined.”
Because of that, Grace said, Breslin could be on the hook for an “endless, bottomless pit of liability, and that may be unfair.”
A 240-unit development is currently being proposed for the Bear Mountain Triangle. Though that plan is in the conceptual phase, Grace said it might not make sense to build sewer connections to homes that might soon be destroyed.
Prior to the new proposal, the plan considered for the Bear Mountain Triangle was called Crompond Terraces, which was to consist of 80 multifamily townhouses and 77,000-square-feet of retail and commercial office space. Most homeowners in the area were under contract to sell to the Crompond Terraces developer, but that project fell apart.
“The contracts, however, went into default, and there have been no new legal agreements regarding our properties and any projects then or now envisioned,” Kutter said.
John Tegeder, the town’s planning director, told Yorktown News that it is the Planning Board’s stance that the sewer connections be built.
“Basically, the Planning Board approved it with the belief that it was part of the project,” Tegeder said.
Grace said Breslin is not looking to be adversarial in the dispute. He said Wilbur F. Breslin, the president of Breslin Realty, is a “man of his word” who will do what the town’s Planning Board ultimately orders him to do.
The next Planning Board meeting is Aug. 13 at Yorktown Town Hall.