THE BUCKINGHAM MEWS EXTENSION is exhibit A for the condo-big box houses that are being approved by Mayor Jennings' appointees on the City Board of Zoning Appeals and City Planning Board.
SUBSTANDARD is the word that sums up these big box houses. The developer, without a
proper permit, began this extension by clearing away the woodlands - not sparing any
mature trees, particularly along the back lot property lines of residences on the South side of Buckingham Drive.
Next ,the woodland top soil was stripped away and sold.
The development lanquished for a couple of years, partly because of financial problems and drainage problems encountered when developing a woodland with numerous
springs, streams and a high water table.
Construction has finally begun in earnest. What we see are big box housing containing
4 units each. The materials and construction are not of the best quality. Certainly
substandard when compared to the original units in Buckingham Mews, built by Bast-Hatfield, ca 1987.
We insisted, as a precondition for signing off on the original Buckingham Mews project, that the acre of green space be set aside and deeded to the city as open space in perpetuity, and that mature confiers be planted to buffer the lights, noise
and air pollution from the corner gas station and growing traffic flows.
Close inspection of this original buffer of conifers, reveals die back due to the
concentration of vehicle fumes at the intersection of New Scotland and Krum Kill. A
second line of conifers have been planted as back up, but these are largely White Pines, which are not tolerant of vehicle emissions. Austrian Pines are, and should have been ,the tree of choice necause they tolerate emissions and road salt.
A substandard, sandy, sparsely planted berm was placed along Friebel Rd, as part of the Mews expansion. Some of the trees have taken and begun to grow. Also, some of the bushes.
THERE IS A NEED FOR THE CITY TO REQUIRE that a berm, of good soil, and substantial size be constructed along the back lot boundary lines of the residences that abut the
the Mews expansion. The berm must be planted with mature evergreens, lilac bushes and Red Osier Dogwoods (the latter are tolerant of wet conditions, and will help stabilize the berm and retard erosion from periodic high water and flooding).
By not riding herd on the developer of the Mews expansion, the City is eroding the residential and environmemtal quality of life for existing residents in the original Buckingham Mews, and the single family residences that border the Mews expansion on
Friebel Rd and Buckingham Dr as well as on Milner Ave.
Furthermore, by allowing substandard construction, materials and design, the City has
set the stage for eroding the city property tax base in this neighborhood.
These big box houses are not built to last. Owners can expect that they will, in time, face significant repair costs, as well as problems like wet basements, mold, etc.
Observe the flimsy, prefabicated roof trusses that are used in these big box houses.
Firemen, fighting a fire in these structures would be at risk when on the roofs.
Observe the, infertile, fill being used to establish lawns, for the big boxes.
The Buckingham Mews project can not be reversed, at this point. For the sake of the neighbors, and the people who buy into these big box units, the City must insist that
construction and materials be of the highest quality; and that quality landscaping
include mature trees and a substantial berm, planted with mature trees/bushes along
the property line abutting the residences on Buckingham Dr.
The Mews Expansion, and other big box housing, like Quantum, at Whitehall and New Scotland Ave, can ,and must, succeeed, if the City and developers put their best efforts forward.
Otherwise, the spectre of section 8 housing bailouts and erosion of neighborhood residential integrity and quality of life; and ersosion of the City property tax base
Mayor Jennings has to personally step in an do what is necessary to assure the success of these big box projects.
J P Sullivan