2008-06-06 / Top Stories

First Court Win For Bungalow Owner

Pyrrhic Win For George: Building May Remain
By Howard Schwach

A even taller building that will block both site lines and access to the beach is being built near the boardwalk only a block away from George's home. A even taller building that will block both site lines and access to the beach is being built near the boardwalk only a block away from George's home. When Manhattanite Richard George first bought his dream bungalow on Beach 14 Street in Far Rockaway, he believed he had found what he was looking for. He had a comfortable, winterized bungalow home in Rockaway with beautiful views of the beach and the ocean, and an easy stroll to take a quick dip.

Skip ahead a few years and we find George and his fellow bungalow-owners staring not at the beach, but at the brick wall of a mid-rise building, something that George saw as a dreamkiller.

George, the president of the Beach and Bungalow Association, sued the developers of the building and the city under the Coastal Zone Management Act, arguing that the development encroached on a legal easement dating back to the 1930s.

Under that easement, which is in his deed to the property, he has the right in perpetuity to access and sightlines to the beach in a 14-foot- wide path from his bungalow at 170 Beach 24 Street to the beachfront.

This five-story building was put in the middle of George's easement between his bungalow and the beach. This five-story building was put in the middle of George's easement between his bungalow and the beach. He also argued in his suit that the city erred in approving plans for the six-story building that now blocks both his view and his stroll to the beach.

In his suit against Yoma Development Group and Impressive Homes, George asked for injunctive relief that would include removing the building, which is completed and occupied.

The court, however, reserved judgment on what remedy would be ordered.

"{George] did not carry the burden of eliminating factual issues pertaining to the matter of a remedy," wrote Judge James P. Dollard of the New York Supreme Court in his decision.

"It is true that the court has the power to issue an injunction removing the encroachment. Nevertheless, where the removal or destruction of a building is the object of an injunction, caution will be exercised in granting such relief, and the courts generally will not do so unless substantial benefit is to be gained by the party seeking the injunction. Monetary damages may be a more suitable remedy for an encroachment than the issuance of an injunction. In the case at the bar, there is an issue of fact pertaining to the proper remedy for defendant Yoma's encroachment, and if the proper remedy is damages, the amount."

The suit against the city's Department of Buildings was dismissed.

George was ecstatic about the ruling.

"This is a big win after years of trying to get somebody to listen to me," George said. "It's clear that the city violated the Coastal Zone Management Act by letting the developers build there, and now we'll have to wait and see what happens next.

No date has yet been set for a hearing on what remedy will be provided George for the encroachment.

Neither of the defendants in this case was available for comment.

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