James Bacon explained the meaning of a negative reciprocal easement. He said it’s just a fancy term to say that if you buy property in a community with deed restrictions, such as no businesses, no clotheslines or whatever the restriction might be, you must abide by those covenants, and every owner of a lot in the community has a right to enforce those covenants against everyone else.
That’s one of the reasons, Bacon said, that developer Shaya Boymelgreen can’t turn lots or driveways that he owns into access roads that would run from the Beechwood community into the neighboring Plum Beach community.
Beechwood is a community of summer cottages that was started in the late 1920s. It’s located on the peninsula between White Lake and Kauneonga Lake. Boymelgreen owns 28 acres in Plum Beach, which he is subdividing for the purpose of building four houses, each about 4,000 or 5,000 square feet. There is already one road that goes through Plum Beach, through which Boymelgreen can access his property. But he has claimed it will be a “hardship” if he is not allowed to also access the property through proposed roads in the Beechwood community.
Beechwood resident Frances Randazzo said one of the access roads Boymelgreen wants to create is located in a place that has been used by her family as a driveway for 59 years and contains the septic system for the house. She said the new road would be located 11 feet from her bedroom window.
Randazzo said that the deeds in both communities had covenants that prevented the construction of “shared facilities.” She accused the developer of deliberately omitting the covenants from the quitclaim deed he presented to the planning board because they would bring into question his plan to build a tennis and handball court, a pool and a large concrete parking lot.
Beechwood resident John Philp said, “When the deeds were drawn up for these two communities, there were great pains taken to be specific about how they wanted things to be, forever. The deed specified ‘quiet use of the land,’ and prohibited anything other than residences because the parties didn’t want any commercial or country club elements.”
He said Boymelgreen’s plan “flies in the face” of the intention of the deeds, and also creates safety concerns for the families who live there.
The biggest barrier that may confront Boymelgreen is a property dispute resolution that dates back to 1932. In that year, the two communities resolved a dispute regarding access to Plum Beach by creating a five-foot strip of land called a reserve that would separate the communities in perpetuity in exchange for an arrangement that allowed the road to Plum Beach to be created. The proposed access roads would involve traversing the reserve, which is a direct violation of the agreement.
Boymelgreen’s attorney, Elisabeth Cassidy, said that the developer believes he has the right to create the access roads, but they are in the process of getting a formal title opinion.