Flavio and Maria La Rocca reside at 140 Sussex Road.
The LaRocca’s purchased the property and took out a building permit to construct a new home in November 2004.
Anyone who has passed the house driving between Ward Elementary School and Albert Leonard Middle school knows the house: rows of arborvitae trees, cascading brick walls, tree pits and large metal gates on rollers, all totally out of keeping with the rest of the neighborhood.
Inexplicably, the Department of Public Works approved the original plans for the house which include paving over the entire area between the property and the street, unusually wide curb cuts, the creation of seven large tree pits and two large metal gates on rollers. The tree pits were built and each filled with a tree and two bushes, ringed by Belgian blocks.
The LaRocca’s essentially remade all of the city property along the entire frontage of their property. It’s hard to imagine how any of what has been built is legal; if it is legal then its clear the law needs to be changed otherwise every homeowner will feel free to encroach on public property, something Flavio LaRocca has a habit of doing.
While the construction of the gates appears to have received city approval, three of the four posts that support the gate appear to be on public property as are elements of the electrical system which operates the gates.
The discrepancy between the sidewalk in front of 140 Sussex Road stands in sharp contrast to the other residential properties on the same street. In front of the LaRocca residence, the sidewalk extends the full length between the property line out to the curb whereas the rest of the street has a narrow sidewalk about 2 feet wide with 2 feet of grass on either side. Anyone walking down the west side of Sussex Road would notice how the narrow sidewalk suddenly opens up to be almost 6 feet wide. This is clearly a dramatic increase in the impermeable surface in front of the house, something that’s typically not approved by the city.
It does not appear that the tree pits and gate were installed for aesthetic reasons; it appears the tree pits and the gate were installed for defensive purposes. Their placement appears to be intended to discourage drivers going to the Albert Leonard Middle School or the fields behind the school from parking in front of 140 Sussex Road. The trees and bushes in the tree pits and the Belgian block around the pits — seven of them — seem to serve the purpose of making it difficult for a driver to park up against the sidewalk there and still be able to get out of the car without exiting the vehicle into traffic on a bend in the road, something not likely to appeal to parents with children. There is a certain irony to the way the LaRoccas appear willing to endanger children going to Albert Leonard Middle School while professing to be concerned about children at Barnard Childhood Center in their public remarks.
The heavy metal gates appear to be designed to prevent anybody from turning around in the driveway and being able to go back and park in front of the house or in front of the school.
The Building Card and Assessment Card for 140 Sussex Road are not available in the New Rochelle Property Portal; users of the online service receive a message stating “The resource you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.”
Talk of the Sound obtained access to the entire set of records under a Freedom of Information request.
A review of building department records show that a building permit to construct an in ground gunite swimming pool was taken out in July 2005. There is no record of a plumbing inspection or an electrical inspection and no Certificate of Occupancy for the pool. The property portal lists the building permit for the pool as “open”. The pool was built and has been used illegally since then, including as recently as June 2015.
The same building department records show that a building permit to construct a Second Floor Bathroom Addition was taken out in May 2011. There is no record of a plumbing inspection or an electrical inspection and no Certificate of Occupancy for the bathroom. The property portal lists the building permit for the bathroom as “open”. The bathroom was built and has been used illegally since then.
A satellite image of 140 Sussex Road indicates the construction of what appears to be a very large pergola — a shaded sitting area of vertical posts supported cross-beams and an open lattice that serves as protection for an open terrace. There are no building department records that a building permit to construct a pergola was ever taken out, no inspections and no Certifcate of Occupany for a pergola.
COMING NEXT: Who is Flavio La Rocca? – Part VIII