Colton says his office inundated with frantic calls on retaining wall

SOUTH BROOKLYN –A decision by the New York City Department of Buildings to rescind notices of violation it had sent to homeowners living along the B, N and Q subway lines over the condition of retaining walls on their properties was met with a sigh of relief from residents and local officials.

Assemblymember William Colton said his office had been inundated with phone calls from angry homeowners in his district who live next to the N train line “who received and are still receiving Notices of Violation from the NYCDOB Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca about the retaining wall behind their properties, which I believe is actually the property of the city.”

A storm of 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.

Homeowners reported that they started receiving the notices a few weeks ago.

On Nov. 10, the DOB announced that would rescind the notices it sent out to homeowners after receiving a request to back off from the New York City Transit Authority.

“Our view is that the notices of violation that have been issued to homeowners should be rescinded, with appropriate notification to the homeowners,” Acting General Counsel of NYC Transit David Farber wrote in a Nov. 8 letter to La Rocca.

NYC Transit will take full responsibility for inspecting the retaining walls, officials said.

“We thank the New York City Transit Authority for taking responsibility of the retaining walls along the B, Q and N lines in Brooklyn,” DOB spokesperson Andrew Rudansky told the Home Reporter via email.

As a follow-up, DOB has requested additional information from NYC Transit on any other retaining walls in the subway system.

“We look forward to the authority providing additional information about any other retaining walls in the five boroughs they believe are their responsibility, and plan to maintain, so we can ensure together that all such walls are properly maintained for the safety of all New Yorkers,” Rudansky said.

The 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.

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, the notices were worrisome, said Colton, a Democrat representing Gravesend and parts of Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights.

“This violation recklessly placed on homeowner’s property created great upset, called for homeowner actions which could have caused public safety threats and appeared to be an irresponsible money grab by city government,” Colton told the Home Reporter. “Now the Buildings Department must promptly rescind its notice and remove the violations it caused to be placed on homeowner’s property, and they must take steps to ensure that this mistake will not be repeated.”

Subway stations along the N line in Southwest Brooklyn recently underwent extensive renovations as part of a $396 million project aimed at upgrading the stations.

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