Subway-side homeowners still waiting for violation notices to be lifted

December 11, 2019 Paula Katinas
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Homeowners living on West Seventh and West Eighth streets, on either side of the N subway line, are not getting any satisfaction from the city Department of Buildings over the retaining walls located between their backyards and the subway, local officials said.

Last month, after an outcry from homeowners who were hit with notices of violation due to the retaining walls, the DOB promised to rescind the violations. The New York City Transit Authority, part of the MTA, agreed to take responsibility for the inspections.

A month later, it still hasn’t happened, according to one peeved politician, Assemblymember William Colton.

Colton, who represents Gravesend and parts of Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights, is demanding that DOB move immediately to resolve the issue.

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“I demand an immediate cure of the notices of violation and a full investigation of why these notices were not rescinded by now, when work on subway tracks is being done on the retaining walls by the MTA,” Colton said.

Controversy erupted when DOB notified homeowners that they were responsible for inspecting the retaining walls located behind their properties along the subway stations on the B, N and Q lines.

A law mandating inspections of retaining walls was adopted following the collapse of a retaining wall on the Henry Hudson Parkway in 2005, DOB officials said.

But local homeowners told THE CITY at the time that they knew the MTA was responsible for the walls, because the state negotiated easement agreements attached to their properties when the tracks were first built in the early 1900s.

The notices that DOB had been sending out to homeowners along the B, N and Q lines did not carry monetary fines, according to agency officials. Still, they were worrisome, said Colton, as having a violation on record could interfere with a homeowner’s ability to sell the property or obtain a loan.

“Surely the New York City DOB must be aware that violations placed of record can delay or terminate any refinancing or sale transactions on such properties and may subject the city and New York City DOB to legal liabilities for any damages incurred as a result of the violations improperly placed, unless such violations are rescinded,” Colton said.

DOB spokesperson Andrew Rudansky said the notices of violation will be rescinded, just not yet.

“On Nov. 8, the NYCTA informed the Department of Buildings that they would be taking legal responsibility for the maintenance of the retaining walls along the B, Q and N lines in Brooklyn. Since that time, DOB has provided to the NYCTA a list of properties with retaining walls along this line, for them to confirm that they would be taking responsibility for the retaining walls at each of these properties. Once NYCTA confirms the properties on this list we provided to them, we will rescind the non-penalty violation letters issued to these properties,” Rudansky said in a statement.

In the meantime, DOB is not issuing any additional enforcement actions related to the retaining walls at these properties, officials said.

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