NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A war over an aging retaining wall in Brooklyn has neighbors fuming.

Homeowners said the city is sending them violation notices, but CBS2’s Charlie Cooper spoke to some neighbors who said the city is shifting responsibility away from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Homes with walls along the “B” and “Q” subway lines are getting warning notices in the mail about retaining walls on their property.

“The city has issued violations to homeowners because they’re saying that some of the wear and tear and deterioration to the walls are the homeowner’s responsibility,” Anthony Finkel said.

“The subway retaining walls that, of course, belong to the MTA, they were built 100 years ago and the notion that the homeowners adjacent to the train tracks have to repair these walls is ridiculous,” said Joel Siegel of the Ditmas Park West Neighborhood Association.

(Photo: CBS2)

It’s a sentiment many neighbors who live along the wall agree with and they have been sharing their concerns with their local community board in hope that the Department of Buildings eases up.

“City council passed a law that said anyone that has a wall that’s in excess of 10 feet high that faces a public access or public roadway or public property would be responsible to maintain that wall,” said Timothy Hogan, the DOB’s deputy commissioner of enforcement.

That law was put in place after a 2005 incident on the Henry Hudson Parkway that saw a retaining wall collapse in the middle of traffic. The DOB said the law is in place for the safety of the public.

“We don’t know the ownership of that wall and whether the owner is immediately responsible to maintain that wall or if they have an agreement with the MTA,” Hogan said.

Neighbors said it should be the DOB’s responsibility to find out, not theirs.

“It’s the accuser’s role to meet their burden of proof and they have to prove that it’s on the property owner’s property,” Siegel said.

There are no fines associated with the violation letters and the DOB said there’s no plan to issue any penalties at this time, adding if people wish to challenge a violation they should contact the department in writing and submit proof related to their claims.

The DOB said any work that homeowners need done on these walls will be coordinated through the department and MTA engineers would work with residents to make sure that it’s done appropriately, and that it doesn’t endanger other people’s property.

The DOB said the owners of the retaining walls will need to submit an updated inspection report every five years.

Comments
  1. BJ says:

    This is beyond ridiculous. Yet another example of the DoB screwing up and refusing to take responsibility. The cut was built pursuant to easements granted by every (then) homeowner in 1904. Pursuant to those easements the walls are the MTA’s responsibility. The DoB knows this (now) but is refusing to withdraw their mailshot. The trench is miles long and there’s a different homeowner every 50 feet. It makes no sense for thousands of sections of the wall to be inspected by thousands of separately engaged engineers and no way to even attempt this without suspending train service. The DoB needs to admit their mistake and stop harassing homeowners.

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