Newman Ferrara attorney, Prof. Randolph McLaughlin, was recently quoted in Sound & Town responding to a developer's allegations. Here's the piece in its entirety:
Beach and Yacht Club tensions rise
By CHRIS GRAMUGLIA
Tensions between Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club and Dan Natchez, a design consultant, have come to a head recently with the attempts by the club to approve a new site plan.
Natchez has attempted to appeal the plan based on its non-compliance with the village’s zoning code, but Paul Noto, an attorney representing Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club, has said that Natchez’s longstanding opposition to the club’s development stems from personal reasons associated with a working relationship that went sour in 2004.
The Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club recently proposed what it has labeled an “amended site plan application” with the Village of Mamaroneck Zoning Board of Appeals as a means of correcting a number of zoning violations found by the board in 2010. Those violations involved floor to area ratios, as well as a lack of sufficient parking.
Floor to Area ratios are the ratio of a buildings total floor area, relative to the land on which it was built
Natchez, who was once employed by the club as a consultant, recently issued a letter to the village Planning Board in his capacity as president of the Shore Acres Property Owner’s Association explaining how the new site plan advanced by the club is still not code compliant. The Shore Acres Property Owner’s Association deals with a piece of land consisting of 200 homes that is bordered on one side by Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club. The club’s property already accounts for 27 percent of the village’s marine-recreation zone, and includes recreational facilities of membership clubs, which include boathouses, clubhouses and health and fitness facilities.
A major flaw with the site plan, according to Natchez, is the construction of a non-water dependent building on the grounds of the club, that would sit within a 100-foot wetland buffer of the 12-acre property. The building on the new site plan is also double the size of a previous one that was proposed in 2010.
“Basically, we believe that the application does not conform to the zoning regardless of which zoning standards we use,” Natchez said. “Fire access, parking, story height, building height: there are just a lot of substantive issues.” According to the letter from Natchez to the Planning Board, Building Inspector Bill Gerety issued a zoning compliance certification to the Planning Board, but that authorization is currently being appealed to the Zoning Board by Natchez.
Gerety declined to comment on his issuance of the zoning compliance certification.
Natchez’s appeal was contested by the club, and dismissed as a personal issue, rather than a legal one. Noto, the club’s attorney, said that Natchez’s grievances against the club are nothing new and that Natchez may have ulterior motives.
“Dan is a former employee of the club. He was a consultant, he was fired for cause and is quite bitter,” Noto said. “He has been an antagonist of the club, and virtually everything the club proposes he opposes.”
Noto also told The Sound and Town Report that the club has responded several times to prior correspondence regarding zoning, and the grievances are “the same thing over and over again.”
“This is a rehash of what he has been saying for the past six months,” Noto said. “We’re already nine years into this, and its cost the village nearly two million dollars.”
Natchez told The Sound and Town Report that Noto’s claims that he was fired are an “out and out lie,” and that the real reason for the rift was his organization’s strong advice against club owner Bernie Rosenshein’s desire to pursue construction of seasonal housing in 2004. Seasonal housing consists of residences that can only be rented during certain parts of the year, and the club would have been able to collect additional revenues from such rentals.
“They were continuing a request that they get an approval for their seasonal residences. The more Bernie persisted, the more we suggested that it wasn’t appropriate for him to come to us and ask for anything. If we were fired for cause, why would we have been paid?” Natchez said.
Also, according to the recent letter sent to the Planning Board, this is not the first time the club has had a disregard for local law.
“In the past, [Daniel S. Natchez and Associates] worked hard to obtain the approvals for the expansion of the club’s marina and even their breakwater. The fact that the club built them in the wrong places is just one in a long series of incidents that indicate the club’s disregard for the rules, even when they have approvals,” the letter said.
Natchez’s attorney Randolph McLaughlin, of Newman and Ferrara LLP, told The Sound and Town Report, that the allegations made by Noto are untrue regarding Natchez’s termination as a consultant.
“It’s unfortunate that, instead of focusing on the issues that are involved in the review of this project, Mr. Noto wishes to cast aspersions on those who oppose it,” McLaughlin said. “It is my understanding that Mr. Natchez was paid in full and not fired.”
According to McLaughlin, intimidation and threats are a tactic used by developers to stifle members of the community who wish to have their voices heard.
“Unfortunately for the club and for Mr. Noto, they’ve chosen the wrong person to pick on,” he said. “I hope and I trust that the planning board will recognize this for what it is: a desperate act by a desperate person.”
Gregory Sullivan, chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, declined to comment until a public hearing is held on the matter.