Hold Rogue Building Developers Accountable for Safety Violations in Flatbush, Brooklyn
Hold Rogue Building Developers Accountable for Safety Violations in Flatbush, Brooklyn
On behalf of the concerned residents of Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Flatbush, Brooklyn who are neighbors of 1931/1935 Bedford Avenue, we implore you to reject the building application approved on 09/18/2018. This building plan is for a seven-story, 44 unit building, whose design is not only grossly out of character with the adjacent buildings, but whose overall engineering, site safety plans, and work practices are documented as unsafe to surrounding existing buildings and residents.
Since they purchased the property, the owners - Bedford Holdings JV LLC and their affiliates - have demonstrated time and time again that they are not trustworthy to handle the safe implementation of a project of this scale. They have repeatedly and deliberately made Material False Statements on building plan agreements, permits, and inspections to flaunt the authority and the regulations that the Department of Buildings and the Department of Environmental Protection has put in place. Each time they have been sanctioned with a stop work order they have violated it and when faced with our community’s concerns about severely unsafe practices, they have threatened us with bodily harm. Amongst many other violations, they have:
+ Lied about the height of 1935 Bedford to avoid installing sidewalk sheds, netting, and other safety measures that protect the public and adjacent buildings from falling debris.
+ Lied about asbestos abatement and consciously exposed the public to asbestos, a known carcinogen, during repeated attempts to demolish the structures on the property without safety measures over a 2 year period.
+Illegally demolished 1935 Bedford Avenue without permits, on July 4th, with a large excavator dangerously close to the lot line and open courtyards where children and families sit. No safety measures to protect the public and buildings.
+Destroyed FDNY’s property while illegally continuing work on the site and threatened the life of a neighbor.
+Lied on the re-submission of their building application, stating that Covid-19 was the reason why they were delayed, when in fact, it was all the stop-work-orders and asbestos violations that held them up.
On June 28, 2018, Bedford Holdings JV LLC, signed an agreement with the DOB that states; “Falsification of any statement is a misdemeanor and is punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both...I understand that if I am found after hearing to have knowingly or negligently made a false statement or to have knowingly or negligently falsified or allowed to be falsified any certificate, form, signed statement, application, report or certification of the correction of a violation required under the provisions of this code or of a rule of any agency, I may be barred from filing further applications or documents with the Department…I will not knowingly authorize any work that is not in compliance with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. ”
It is a fact that Bedford Holdings JV LLC and their affiliates have knowingly and repeatedly broken this agreement with the Department of Buildings and their actions prove they are not working within the bounds of legal and social agreements. They have been committed to disregarding the law, repeatedly lying to the DOB and DEP, and endangering our community’s health and safety from the beginning. If allowed to move forward, their unsafe practices will continue and likely result in major property damage and further injury to the health and safety of residents and workers.
We ask that you reject and revoke the building plan they have submitted, and bar them from the right to apply for future permits as stipulated above. They have proven themselves to be bad actors who are intent on circumventing the laws and regulations that are in place to protect the people and property of this city. They do not respect the jurisdiction and authority of the DOB and DEP, and refuse to comply no matter how many violations, stop work orders, and hefty fines are levied on them.
Below, please see a list of just some of the dangerous, dishonest, illegal, and violent actions we have been subjected to and have reported through 311, city agencies, and in the press over the last 3.5 years.
Protect our community by not allowing them to inflict damage on us - or anyone else - like this again.
Concerned residents + friends of Flatbush, Prospect Lefferts Gardens
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TIMELINE OF SELECTED VIOLATIONS AT 1935 BEDFORD (there are more and they have violations, stop work orders, and worker injuries reported on other properties):
September 2018 - The homeowners of adjacent properties on Fenimore Street suffered damages to their garages as the developers removed trees without protections. No corrective action has been taken.
September 17, 2018 - A bobcat machine suddenly pushed a massive pile of bricks through the green barrier at the property line and onto the sidewalk as a 2 year old and his mother were walking by. The tumbling pile of bricks came within inches of hitting the child. There were no cones, signs, barriers, or notifications on the sidewalk to protect the public and show that any work was in progress.
September 18, 2018 - The developers’ building plan was approved. The plan hinges on inaccurate structural information and measurements of adjacent buildings, and relies on underpinning to the foundation of an adjacent co-op building on Hawthorne Street that would compromise its structural integrity. The site safety plan does not account for how they will brace adjacent buildings during excavation amongst other serious issues.
October 2018 - Demolition of 1931 Bedford Ave (Lot 7) began. The permit for the existing property at 1931 Bedford stated that it was 30 feet, which requires a sidewalk shed, netting, and other safety precautions. The developers installed none of those, and debris from the demolition flew into neighboring yards, garages, and onto the unsecured sidewalk, endangering hundreds of neighbors and passersby. Dust flew into windows of neighboring buildings and apartments, and as far as we know, no asbestos abatement was completed on this 100 year old house.
September 2018-January 2019 - The developers’ crew were observed bringing in multiple trucks worth of debris, dirt, and materials from other work sites to the 1931/1935 Bedford lots, using the properties as illegal dumping sites. Some of this debris spilled into neighboring lots, damaging neighbors’ property. As the debris festered, in the following weeks and months neighbors on Fenimore Street and Hawthorne St experienced a significant vermin infestation. They were faced with an onslaught of rodents and bugs as a result of the dumping.
December 24, 2018 - Bedford Holdings LLC received an approved demolition permit for the house at 1935 Bedford Avenue (Lot 5) based upon their application which contained multiple deliberate Material False Statements. In their application, they state the building was 24 feet high, and that asbestos abatement had been completed and validated. The height of the building was actually 30 feet and asbestos was not properly abated.
January 11, 2019 - Demolition of 1935 Bedford Avenue began, with the crew recklessly tearing the building apart without sidewalk sheds or netting, and debris flew into neighboring courtyards, windows, and sidewalks. Following the overwhelming outcry for help from the neighborhood, a DOB inspector came to the site and saw that the house at 1935 Bedford Avenue was at least 30 feet high, not the 24 feet the developers stated in their application. By making that Material False Statement the developers avoided installing the necessary safety equipment to the sidewalk and adjacent buildings. The DOB issued multiple Stop Work Orders and fines.
March 12, 2020 - Demolition at 1935 Bedford Avenue continues, yet again without the proper safety equipment and a poorly installed sidewalk shed. Another Stop Work Order is issued.
September 8, 2020 - Workers again were demolishing 1935 Bedford Ave without proper safety equipment and without observing Covid-19 safety requirements. An inspector from the Department of Environment Protection arrives on the scene, stops all work, and collects samples of what they suspected were hazardous materials, specifically asbestos. The inspector left the property to observe it from above from 135 Hawthorne, and when the inspector returned to the site to take more samples, the owner had arrived and tried to refuse the inspector further access, but the inspector insisted and retrieved the samples.
October 8, 2020 - A large red shipping container labeled ‘ASBESTOS’ was delivered into the property, and workers began pulling materials and debris out of 1935 Bedford Ave and depositing them in the Asbestos container. Hundreds of neighbors who live in the co-op and historical homes that are adjacent to the 1935 Bedford Ave properties realize they, their families, elders, and children, have been exposed to asbestos dust repeatedly in previous acts of demolition the developers did over 2-years without proper abatement or safety measures.
October 13, 2020 - A DEP inspector confirmed that the samples taken September 8th, 2020 did indeed test positive for asbestos on all three floors and in the garage structure 2-years after their “abatement”. This demonstrates that the developer and their associates knowingly made another Material False Statement on the application in regards to removal of a known carcinogen.
September - October 2020 - Another stop work order issued, this time by the DEP for the egregious asbestos violations and exposure to the public. A $68,400 fine is assigned to the owners and remains unpaid to present.
November 21, 2020 - Demolition permit and the building plan approval expired.
December 2020 - A building plan was resubmitted with more Material False Statements, this time claiming that the Covid-19 shutdown was the cause of the delay, when in fact it was due to the multiple Stop Work Orders issued as a result of their illegal actions and false statements that took place on the record BEFORE and DURING the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown of 2020.
May 7, 2021 - New Stop Work Order issued for safety violations for failing to maintain support for scaffolding, not meeting code, and expired permits.
June 15, 2021 - Developer submits a new demolition permit application, stipulating using hand tools for the demolition. Fines remain unpaid and safety measures still not implemented. Stop Work Orders remain.
June 23, 2021 - New stop work order issued for additional safety violations.
July 4, 2021 - On the holiday, the owner’s crew arrived at 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning and started to illegally, without a permit, demolish 1935 Bedford Avenue using a large excavation machine without any safety precautions. The property sits on the lot line next to 2 open courtyards where children play and people garden. Emergency DOB inspectors arrived and issued a violation of the stop work order. While observing the scene, one of the residents of Hawthorne Street was threatened by one of the owners, who said he would ‘slit your throat’. Police report is filed. NYPD and FDNY come to the scene and workers are ordered to leave. The FDNY padlocks the site gate shut to ensure the developers cannot access it.
July 6, 2021 - The workers return early in the morning to continue the demolition with the large excavator left on site. The DOB arrived at the scene and a new stop work order was issued for continued demolition without a permit. A DOB engineering team assessed the site and found that the property that stood half demolished was now structurally unsound and unsafe. The city moved in to oversee the completion of the demolition by emergency order from the Borough Commissioner. It was demolished 10 days later with proper safety measures.
July 14, 2021 - One of the owner’s employees arrives after dark and saws off FDNY’s lock - destroying FDNY’s property - to access 1935 Bedford Avenue. Neighbors walking by stop him in the act. The NYPD is called and he’s told to leave but the site is now left unsecured overnight.
July 16, 2021 - Emergency Demolition is done this week with oversight from DOB Engineer and inspector. There is confusion if the city brought in their own team to do the demolition or if they are overseeing the developer’s team.
August - October 2021 - Multiple violations and fines are given to the owner for expired permits and for leaving the metal mesh over co-op residents windows. This mesh was installed in July during the emergency demolition and was left on the windows by the owner out of spite. This is during the highest heat of the summer and some co-op residents were unable to re-install air conditioners due to the wire mesh.
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You don't need to live in Flatbush, Brooklyn to care about this issue - please sign even if you live out of NYC or NYS. Thank you!