Review denied of neighbor’s alterations

315 West 103rd Street (Center building). Image Credit: Google Maps

Neighbor asks the Landmark Preservation Commission to review their neighbor’s completed renovations. Richard Robbins lives in an apartment on West 103rd Street. Robbin’s next-door neighbors at 315 West 103rd Street received permission in 2008 from the Department of Buildings to enlarge their home. In 2009, Buildings ordered the neighbor to stop working on the addition, at a point when only the roof and the backyard expansion had been completed. In 2015 The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the neighborhood. The new Riverside-West Historic District included both Robbins and his neighbor’s homes, and both homes contributed to the historic status.

Robbins requested that Landmarks review the alterations to the rear of the neighbor’s house and the roof. Landmarks sent a staff member to evaluate the existing and proposed modifications to the neighbor’s house. The staff member determined the external appearance was in harmony with the historic district and closed the matter.

Robbins objected and filed an Article 78 petition. Robbins asked the court to compel Landmarks to consider the appropriateness of improvements to the back of the neighbor’s home and roof. The court dismissed Robbins’ petition. Robbins appealed.

The Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal of Robbin’s petition. Landmarks has discretion to determine whether proposed improvements or changes would affect the architectural features that contribute to a historic district. Landmarks could not consider the propriety of previously completed renovations to the neighbor’s home as Buildings had approved them, and the permit issued for them expired before the houses were included in a historic district.

Robbins v. NYC Landmark Preservation Comm., 112 N.Y.S.3d 89 (1st Dept. 2019).

By: Kelly Barrett (Kelly is a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)


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