NORTH CASTLE, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Some Westchester County residents have come up with a unique way to get rid of an unwanted property buyer and the fear of declining home values.
It cost them cash, but as CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey reports, they purchased the right to say “not in our neighborhood.”
David Lowrey thought he found a new home for his landscaping company, but said he’s been effectively locked out of the land.
“The neighbors decided they didn’t want me there,” he said.
Those neighbors took unusual financial steps to prevent it from happening.
“It was an expensive ordeal,” neighbor Ed Saggese said.
“We were defending our turf,” added resident Eric Birnbaum.
The turf battle began three years ago, when Lowrey bought a near-acre tract of land in North Castle, next door to a lawnmower business. The plan was to build a massive garage to house trucks and equipment.
The neighbors, however, began complaining.
“It was traffic, it was noise,” Lowrey said.
Those weren’t the only concerns for nearby residents, however.
“It would have degraded the values of the houses in the area,” Saggese said.
Saggese and Birnbaum led the fight to keep Lowrey out of the land, arguing that a neighborhood with homes values at an average of $2 million shouldn’t sit next to a landscaping business.
“It was a 24/7, Sundays and holidays-type operation that was totally out of character,” Birnbaum said.
Just before North Castle voted, 15 neighbors offered to buy Lowrey out, just so he’d go away.
“It was really the only way I think we could have settled it,” Saggese said.
Lowrey accepted, knowing full well that if his land plan was approved by the town, a fight would have followed.
“We would have taken it to court and litigated for as long as it took,” Birnbaum said.
Lowrey said he didn’t have the resources for that.
“I have $1.5 million in that piece of property at the time, and it only sold for $700,000,” Lowrey said. “I really think it stinks.”
Neighbors said they did what they had to do.
“I don’t think there are any winners here,” Birnbaum said.
Neighbors who put money into this land purchase knew they’d be losing cash, but breaking even was never part of the deal – it was all about quality of life.
The neighbors said their plan is to build a home that fits in with the rest of the community and find a buyer.
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