As an unincorporated area, University Gardens is fully subject to the ordinances and codes set by the Town of North Hempstead. So, while owners developing their property must comply with the Declaration of Restrictions attached to their deed, they must also comply with the Building Code of the Town of North Hempstead. Similarly, in removing trees, property owners must comply both with the requirements of the Declaration of Restrictions and with the tree section of the Town's code.
This web page summarizes and interprets the North Hempstead codes and Nassau County traffic regulations that apply to University Gardens. For direct reference to the codes, go to the North Hempstead website and click on "Town Code" under "Government" in the top navigation bar. Then select the appropriate chapter from the blue menu block at left and scroll to the designated section.
Over the years, one of the major complaints from residents, addressed to the Board, has been the tendency of some residents to leave trash--and empty trash containers--at the curb at unauthorized times. In a community of tree-lined streets, minimal street parking, and beautifully kept properties, the curbside trash is an eyesore and an affront to neighbors.
The Board has now asked the Great Neck Auxiliary Police to issue warnings to residents who violate the governing code of the Town of North Hempstead. Persistent violators will be reported to the Town's code enforcement office and may incur fines. Briefly, the code requires that trash not be placed at the curb before sunset of the day before scheduled pickup, and that empty containers be removed by sunrise of the day following pickup. The litter shown at left was photographed at 5:50 pm on a Saturday (April 10, 2004).
In the Town's relevant code, Chapter 34, Article I, the pertinent sections read as follows:
Para. 34-3: ..."No authorized private receptacles or other cans, plastic bags or debris shall be placed at the curb ... before sunset immediately prior to the day of a scheduled pickup. All such items shall be removed from the curb not later than sunrise on the day following a scheduled pickup. The foregoing restrictions shall not apply to items for which the adjacent property owner has has arranged a nonscheduled or commercial pickup ... [in which case] no such items shall be left at the curb ... for more than 24 hours. The foregoing restrictions also shall not apply, during the period from October 1 to December 31, to cans or plastic bags containing yard waste."
Para. 34-4: "Persons placing litte... in authorized private receptacles shall do so in such a manner as to prevent it from being carried or deposited by the elements upon any street, sidewalk or other public place or upon private property."
In view of certain realities that residents cannot control, the Board has asked the Auxiliary Police to take no action when:
- Dark green or black bags containing lawn debris are left at the curb, since we often cannot control when gardeners do their work.
- Bulk items are left at the curb, since we often cannot control the timing of appliance deliveries. However, action will be taken when a bulk item remains past Friday--the day that Waste Management makes bulk pickups (if it has been notified).
No exception will be made for construction debris, which contractors have the responsibility to remove.
Most dog owners in the Gardens are careful to make sure that their animals do not run loose, besmirch the sidewalks, dig up other peoples' gardens, threaten children, or make an infernal racket. But there are exceptions, judging from complaints by some residents and observations by the Auxiliary Police patrol.
The Declaration of Restrictions contains no rules about dogs. But the Town of North Hempstead's Code does deal with dogs in some detail. A summary:
- A dog must be licensed by the Town, which collects the State fee ($2.50 if spayed or neutered, $10.50 if not) and levies its own fee of $4.50.
- To get a license for a dog classified as "vicious" or "trained to attack," you must carry at least $100,000 in liability insurance that covers any damage done by the dog.
- When a dog is on someone else's property, or on public property, it must be on a leash no longer than six feet. Under the Town's definition, the UG pool and tennis area is public property.
- You must keep your dog from urinating or defecating on others' property. Feces on a sidewalk, street, or median must be picked up, sealed in a plastic bag, and put in a closed garbage container.
- You must prevent your dog from menacing anyone.
- You must prevent habitual or frequent loud howling, barking, crying, or whining.
The Association has no authority to enforce these rules. If you see a violation, in most cases a word to the dog owner should be sufficient. If not, or in a case of repeated infractions, you may wish to go to the Town Attorney's office at Town Hall (869-7620) and swear out a complaint. The fine for an offense is $25--higher for a repeated offense. The fines for not carrying required liability insurance start at $100.
A roaming dog, or a dog that menaces or attacks, may be seized (or if necessary destroyed) by the Town's Dog Warden (767-4614). A seized dog is held at the Town's Animal Shelter (944-8220) for five days and may be recovered upon payment of fees and costs.
The Town requires that any house display a house number at the entrance or at the nearest practical point. It must at all times be legible from the sidewalk or the street in front of the house. "Front" is construed as the side of the house that faces the street to which the number has been assigned.
If an owner fails to display a number, or displays it inadequately, the Town Clerk may serve him or her with a copy of the ordinance. After a 10-day grace period, a fine of $10 per day may be levied until the violation is corrected.
The Town has a comprehensive noise code. The Association has no authority to enforce that code. In some cases you may be able to mitigate the problem by communicating directly with the individual responsible. Otherwise, report violations to the Town's Code Enforcement Div., 869-7628. During non-business hours, call the police, 573-6600.
Following is a summary of violations of the noise code that are most relevant to a residential area like University Gardens:
- Operating a radio or stereo, or playing a musical instrument, "in such a manner or with such volume, particularly between 10 pm and 7 am, as to annoy or disturb the quiet comfort or repose of persons" in any residence. That includes sound systems in vehicles. No speaker may be arranged so as to project sound outside a residence.
- Keeping any animal or bird which "by causing frequent or long-continued noise shall disturb the comfort and repose" of any person in the vicinity.
- Using any vehicle "so out of repair, so loaded, or in such manner as to create loud and unnecessary grating, grinding, rattling or other noise."
- Discharging into the air the exhaust of any vehicle or other engine "except through a muffler or other device which will effectively prevent loud or explosive noises."
- Erecting--including excavating, demolishing, altering, or repairing--any building other than between 7 am and 6 pm on weekdays, "except in cases of urgent necessity in the interest of public safety and then only with a permit from the Buildings Dept."
- Creating a loud and excessive noise in connection with loading or unloading any vehicle or opening and destroying containers.
- Sounding a horn or other signal device on any vehicle except as a warning signal "pursuant to the provisions of Section 15 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York."
- Operating any mechancial device--including a pump, exhaust fan, or air-conditioner--in such a manner as to create any noise exceeding 50 decibels at the property line.
- Operating any sound apparatus near any street or park for commercial purposes.
- Allowing a burglar or fire alarm to emit sound which is audible beyond the property line for a continuous period of more than 20 minutes.
- Operating a motorized leaf blower on a weekday prior to 8 am or after 7 pm, or on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday prior to 10 am or after 5 pm. The Board of Directors of UGPOA recommends that residents limit use of leaf blowers to weekdays only.
- The code also prohibits "the shouting and crying of peddlers, hawkers and vendors which disturbs the peace and quiet of the neighborhood." This has been successfully interpreted to deny access by ice cream vendors to the streets of University Gardens.
A first offense is punishable by a fine of $50 to $250, or by imprisonment for up to five days, or both. A second offense within one year is punishable by a fine of $100 to $500, or by imprisonment for up to 10 days, or both. A third offense within two years is punishable by a fine of $200-$1,000, or by imprisonment for up to 15 days, or both.
Normal parking rules aside, parking on the 13 streets of University Gardens is restricted in three ways:
- One-side parking. With one exception--Merrivale Rd., which is wider than the others--parking is permitted on only one side of the street. The side on which no parking is permitted is clearly marked by signs to that effect.
- No overnight parking. Street parking between the hours of 2 am and 6 am is prohibited. This restriction is posted at the UG entrances.
- A 90-minute limit. On many, but not all, blocks parking is restricted to 90 minutes. The limit is posted where it applies.
Currently, the fine for violating any of these restrictions is $55 plus a $10 state surcharge.We were not privy to the discussion and analysis that resulted in these long-standing restrictions. But it's clear that the one-side parking limitation is essential because of the narrowness of the streets. With parking on just one side it is still difficult for two cars to pass each other. With parking on both sides it would be impossible for a fire engine to get through.
The overnight prohibition probably is intended to make it easier for the police to identify suspicious traffic or abandoned cars. The 90-minute limit, which is hard to enforce, seems designed to mimimize street parking in general. Drivers should be mindful of both limits when snow is forecast, since a heavy snowfall may keep a car from being moved and thus incur a violation. Snowed-in cars also hamper plowing of the street (see photo below).
If you have a special mitigating situation--for example, where your driveway has no room for an overnight guest or is out of commission for any reason-- you should phone the 6th Precinct (573-6600) and ask that the officer on night patrol give you a break. Be sure to give the license plate number.
In addition, the usual prohibitions concerning fire hydrants, stop signs, driveways, and wrong-way parking apply. A car must be no closer than 15 feet to a hydrant, no closer than 20 feet to an unmarked intersection, and no closer than 30 feet to a Stop or yield sign. Parking too close to a fire hydrant is subject to a fine of $75 plus a $10 state surcharge. Other improper parking, including blocking a private driveway or a sidewalk, is subject to a fine of $60 plus a $10 surcharge. In addition, parking more than 12 inches from the curb carries a fine of $30 plus a $10 state surcharge.
The total effect of all these parking regulations is not only greater safety for drivers and pedestrians but also a more natural, cleaner look for the community. This can be best appreciated by a visit to some upscale communities in Queens that have no such restrictions.
Contractors and deliverers often appear to be oblivious to the parking restrictions in University Gardens. When that is the case, they should be told them and requested to observe them.
Regulations aside, residents are urged to observe certain commonsense precautions in parking, notably:
- Do not park across the street from a driveway. Parking in such a spot makes it harder for a driver backing out of a driveway. It also increases the possibility of a dent in your own car.
- Do not park on a blind curve--i.e., in a spot on a narrow street that cannot be seen well in advance by an oncoming driver on the same side of the street. A good example is Somerset Drive as it curves to the west of Hereford Rd.
The Town has a mandatory, curb-side recyling program for solid waste. The program accepts many different items of paper, plastics, metals, and glass--but not all such items. For details see Recycling on the Local Services page.
The Belgrave Water Pollution Control District enforces restrictions on substances that may be discharged into sanitary sewers. For details, see Sewage Disposal on the Local Services page.
Obstructing a sidewalk is unlawful, whether the obstruction be uncleared snow, debris, untamed shrubbery (see obstructions), or, as in the photo below, a car jutting from a driveway. In University Gardens, the predominant problem is snow.
Until recently, a surprisingly high percentage of UG homeowners did not bother to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks. The result was that pedestrians, including school children, were forced to walk in the street, competing with vehicular traffic. However, as a result of pleas by the Board, aided by a Town enforcement action in December 2003, the most recent post-snow survey showed 91% compliance.
The failure to clear walks is both discourteous and hazardous. It also violates the North Hempstead town code. The code sets a fine of up to $250 for a first offense, and higher limits for repeated offenses. So, if you are physically incapable of shoveling (or blowing) or you will be away during a possible snow storm, you may want to ask a neighbor--or contract with a gardener or school kid--to cover for you. The Association's recording secretary maintains a list of willing snow shovelers.
The code does not specify how quickly a sidewalk must be cleared after a storm. After a heavy snowfall in December 2003, however, Town code enforcers issued 24 violation notices and six court summonses in University Gardens about 36 hours after the snow stopped falling. According to Jeffrey Gross, a Great Neck attorney whose practice includes personal-injury cases, the courts have generally held that a property owner complies with the law if he clears his walks within 24 hours after a snow storm is over.
To report an uncleared sidewalk, call Inspector Scott Beaver in the Town's Division of Code Enforcement, 869-7628, or send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to clearing the entrance to your driveway, the Town has some suggestions having to do with plowing:
- Do not shovel the entrance to your driveway until after street plowing is done.
- When you do shovel the entrance to your driveway, push the snow to the right so that any future plowing will not push already-shoveled snow back into your driveway.
In University Gardens the sidewalks, like the streets and the medians between them, are owned by the Town, and sidewalk repair is a Town responsibility. To request a repair, phone 516-739-6720.
Tree removal in University Gardens is restricted both by the Association and by the Town, and the requirements differ. You must meet both sets of requirements where they apply. Note change in Town rule in fifth paragraph.
The Declaration of Restrictions requires Board approval for the removal of any tree more than five years old on your property. Since age may be hard to document, the Board has substituted a guideline that requires approval if the tree is more than five inches in diameter. If you wish to remove a larger tree, contact the Board director who is charged with the responsibility for environment, who will inspect the tree and may approve the request.
If the request is denied you will get a formal letter of denial from the Board. If you wish to appeal, you will be given the name of a Board-designated, certified arborist from whom you may get a second opinion for a fee of $150.
Normally, removal will be approved for a dead tree, a tree leaning on a house, a tree within the footprint of planned construction, or a tree within three feet of a foundation. The Board has sometimes approved the removal of one or more trees in connection with a landscaping design, provided they were immediately replaced somewhere on the property by a like number of mature trees.
With regard to improved lots, if the tree to be removed is in your front yard and is 6 inches or more in diameter), you must also get a permit from the Town's Commissioner of Buildings. (A limit of six inches in diameter applies in the case of new construction.) Also if you own a corner any tree between the house and the street exceeding 10" will have to be replaced at 50% of its diameter. The restriction also applies if the tree's habitat is to be altered in a way that might kill it. A Town permit costs $25 for 1-2 trees, $50 for 3-5 trees.
The Town also requires that you replace any tree(s) of 10 inches or more in diameter that you remove from your front yard by a tree, or trees, having a total diameter of at least 50% of that, or those, removed. These must be from a class similar or greater in size, and must be placed in the same front yard. And the locations, or locations, must be approved by the Building Commissioner.
The Declaration provides for a penalty of $1,500 for any tree over five years old (interpreted as more than five inches in diameter) that is removed without an Association permit. The Town's penalty for illegal removal ranges from $150 to $500 and/or imprisonment for up to 15 days for a first offense, and $300 to $1,000 and/or up to 15 days imprisonment for a second offense.BR>
The need for a Town permit applies even in the case of emergency. In such a case, you may contact the Commissioner of Buildings (869-7679) to secure a verbal approval for immediate removal. But you must then apply for a written permit within 48 hours.
With regard to new construction, the Town of North Hempstead requires that an application for a building permit must be accompanied by a plot plan showing the location and size of all trees and indicating which are to remain, which are to be removed, and which are to be planted. If any tree greater than six inches in diameter is to be removed, the plan must be accompanied by an application for a tree removal permit. The Town considers any tree removed within six months before applying for a building permit to be removal requiring a permit.
If the Building Commissioner denies a tree removal permit you can appeal to the Board of Zoning & Appeals. If you have a problem with a street tree, i.e., one between the sidewalk and the street (or less than 25 feet from the centerline of the street), notify the Town's Highway Dept. (739-6708).
The Association and the Town have different rules about where to measure the diameter of a tree. The Board's guideline is 1 foot above the ground. The Town's rule, consistent with arborists' practice, is 4-1/2 feet above the ground. Measuring the diameter of a tree with precision is a bit tricky. The best way is to wrap a flexible tape around the trunk at the prescribed height and note the circumference in inches. Then get out your pocket calculator and divide the circumference by pi (3.1416) to get the diameter.
You do not need Board approval to trim a tree on your property.
The Manhasset-Lakeville Water District enforces a Nassau County ordinance designed to promote water conservation. Its key provisions:
- Lawn sprinkling is prohibited from the end of October to the beginnng of April.
- If your house number is odd, you may sprinkle your lawn only on odd-numbered days of the month. If your house number is even, you may sprinkle your lawn only on even-numbered days of the month.
- Washing of paths, sidewalks, and driveways is prohibited.