Retaining Walls: A Case Of Mistaken Ownership For DOB?

Retaining Walls: A Case Of Mistaken Ownership For DOB?
Retaining wall along tracks. Liena Zagare/Bklyner

UPDATED: As of Monday morning, it seems DOB had no idea that the walls were the property of the NYC TransitAuthority – see the letter here DOB sent to NYC Transit. Homeowners can sleep easier tonight.

Assemblyman William Colton, who represents Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights says that since Halloween, his office has been swamped by angry homeowners who are receiving Notices of Violation from the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca about the retaining walls behind their property, which homeowners believe are not their responsibility.

“Every notice states that the DOB records indicate that the homeowner is in violation of the NYC Administrative Code. Then it directs homeowners to remove this violation by submitting an acceptable technical report within 60 days of the day of the letter, not counting that each letter is dated October 2, 2019, and every person that had contacted me with this problem received it on or after October 31, 2019,” Colton says. “Furthermore, people have been threatened that if they fail to comply, it may result in the issuance of a violation and the imposition of civil or criminal penalties.”

A couple of days ago, THE CITY reported that homeowners along Q/B train tracks are being held responsible for the retaining walls, causing outrage. Colton points out that back in 2017, the MTA released a press release regarding the repairs along the N line, stating that they’ll be spending $395.7 million on a renovation project, saying:

“For these stations, originally opened in 1915, renovations include improved platforms and overpasses, new stairways and handrails, repairs to canopies and columns, painting and the rehabilitation of historic head house station entrances and fare control areas, enhanced safety features, and upgraded communication systems which will create better travel conditions for customers. Work will also take place between stations with repairs to retaining walls along the right of way.”

Colton is disgusted.

“It’s just outrageous that after the millions of dollars that the MTA had spent on the repairs, which includes the retaining wall repairs, now two years later homeowners are in violation of not maintaining the retaining wall. Isn’t it ironic? Taxpayers monies were wasted on the repairs that were not complete. Now the city decides to put the burden on the homeowners. My question is why now it became such a big issue where homeowners became victims. I think the only fault of the homeowners is that they own property which is near the MTA’s retaining wall. This is unacceptable. I am calling for a full investigation. I will not stop until I’ll get to the bottom of this chaos,” Colton continued.