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Lakeview residents push developer, town for snowplowing

The street outside the Lakeview home of Joseph

The street outside the Lakeview home of Joseph and Nicole Alain after a snowstorm last January. The streets in The Meadows development are the subject of a dispute between the developer and the Town of Hempstead. Credit: Alain family

Winter is several months away, but residents in The Meadows development in Lakeview are already fighting to get the snow removed from their streets.

The complex’s 53 houses around Otsego Road and Otsego Court have never had regular municipal snow removal in the nine years since development started. When more than 20 inches of snow fell on Long Island over three days in late January, many residents were trapped in their homes, they said.

But Town of Hempstead crews wouldn’t clear their streets, despite repeated calls, the residents said.

It’s happened before.

“I remember a couple of years back when cars were stuck in the middle of the street and homeowners had to shovel them out,” said Wilbert Ingram, a resident for more than six years.

Town officials said the neighborhood was private property with private streets and not its responsibility.

Residents complained so much after the late January storm that the developer eventually had a private company clear the streets of snow.

“But they told us they would not do it again,” said Jason Jeremiah, a homeowner in The Meadows since December 2012.

The dispute began with the developer, The Meadows at West Hempstead LLC, not paying a required $50,000 county fee and not making some relatively small repairs in the area, said Nassau County spokesman Brian Nevin.

Once the fee is paid and the roads fully paved, “then they can become dedicated town roads,” said Hempstead Town spokesman Mike Deery.

Residents, however, argued they pay town taxes like everybody else in the community “and we expected similar services,” said Alain Joseph, who has lived in the complex since 2011.

Representatives for the developer had argued to community groups this year that it had no legal obligation to pay the fee.

Jeremiah and other residents contacted their county legislator, Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury), and town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, who met with the developer’s representatives.

Bynoe said she was told that the developer had no legal obligation to pay the fee. But, she said, The Meadows development documents she reviewed “suggest that residents have been the victims of significant misrepresentation when they purchased their homes.”

Jeremiah and others said that when they bought their homes, they were required to pay or reimburse the developer for the so-called basin dedication fees — a fee paid to maintain stormwater drainage systems — as part of the settlement charges.

Al D’Agostino, the Valley Stream attorney representing The Meadows at West Hempstead LLC, acknowledged that the fee had been in dispute, “but once we learned of the language in the contract, my client decided to move on this as expeditiously as possible — not just to pay the basin fee but also to make any mandated repairs to the basin.”

He said his client, which now has full ownership of the development, had only been one of several partners early in the complex’s history and was unfamiliar with every clause in the documents.

“We hope this will be straightened out before the next winter arrives,” D’Agostino said.

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