What to do: Neighbor's Junk Car or Too Many Cars

Residents asked questions about cars parked on lawns, crowding the streets and unlicensed junk cars


At last week's Nanuet Civic Association meeting, Joel Epstein, Clarkstown Code Enforcement Officer, was invited to answer questions about “rentals” and conversions of single family houses.

Epstein started with the question of, ‘what is permitted and what is illegal?’

“It’s not illegal to rent your house or to be an absentee owner as long as it constitutes as a single-family house,” he said, adding that Nanuet also happens to have a lot of legal 2-family houses “that date back … to the 1940s."

An earlier Patch article looked at Epstein's explanations on what constitutes as a single-family home and how it's enforced.


Many had questions about parking issues. There is a street parking restriction from November – April.

“It’s not just snow storms, when the highway department sees a problem in the street, they’ll call the police,” said Epstein.

If parking becomes a traffic nuisance or hazard, even if it’s not between November and April, residents can call the police, he added.

“They’ll give a warning or even write a ticket and that sends the message that you have to use your driveway.”

“With the cars overnight during a snow storm, if a plow needs to plow and there’s a problem, he knows all he has to do is call the police department,” said Clarkstown Police Officer Mark Hamilla. “We’ll tow that car, we have no problem doing it and have no problem writing tickets.”

One person asked what the code was regarding using the lawn for parking.

“You’re not allowed to park on a lawn. That’s not a zoning violation. That’s a property maintenance violation,” said Epstein. He added that the code requires cars to be parked on “what is called a dustless surface. It doesn’t mean your driveway has to be paved, it can gravel or anything, but it can’t be grass.”

He added that just because there are a lot of cars on the street or spilling over to the lawn, it doesn’t mean that there is a problem with over occupancy or illegal conversions.

“You would need to expand your driveway if you have 6-8 kids and they become teenagers and there are 10 cars,” he said as an example. To answer another question, he said that there is not a restriction on the number of driveways a person can have.

“Clarkstown does not restrict what you do with your lot. You can pave your entire lot. However, you’re only allowed a 20-ft curb cut. A lot of people violate that,” said Epstein. He added that there are restrictions, such as the driveway’s distance to an intersection. Also, it’s mostly an issue that the highway department deals with

In order to widen the driveway opening you need a road-opening permit from the highway department.

“If you widen your driveway opening too much, it creates traffic issue. It’s the same permit you would need if you wanted a circular driveway, because that would be a second curb cut.”

Also, even though a person can’t widen a curb cut, “it can be a bottleneck where you can pull into your driveway and the whole rest of it is asphalt.”

Also, the town is trying to reduce impervious surfaces, which has to do with modern storm water regulation.

“In commercial site plans, we’re trying to reduce the amount of impervious surface, meaning it’s not good to just pave your whole lot,” said Epstein.

Another resident asked how many unregistered cars can a home have.

“The code allows for one unlicensed vehicle.”

There’s a junk yard provision that defines a junk yard as two or more unlicensed vehicles on your lot for a certain number of days. “In the residential zone, it’s 60 days and in a commercial zone, I think it’s 30 days.”

Epstein said that how enforcement works is that he would need to inspect the vehicles to verify that they are unregistered and then come back after 60 days to see if they’ve removed it.

“The reason you’re allowed one unlicensed vehicle is because it could be your classic vehicle that you work on or your son/daughter is in college and you took the plates off while they’re away. If there’s one unlicensed vehicle and it’s got four flat tires or broken windows or is full of junk, that’s a property maintenance violation. That’s a nuisance or an eyesore.”

He added that he usually gives an offer that the owner can’t refuse ”like would you like to (go in front of a judge) or get rid of the car? If he moves the car around the block or moves it and brings it back a week later … it can become a bit like cat and mouse.”


Epstein said that there’s a zoning ordinance that dates back to the 1930s that “permits boarders, up to three, in a single-family home.”

“It’s not a common practice today, but if you have an extra bedroom and you needed help with property taxes or your mortgage, you can have a college student (as a boarder). You would take your meals together, it’s not a separate dwelling unit. They’re paying rent, so to speak, but they’re not renting a separate dwelling unit.”

You can’t rent rooms to boarders if you don’t live there, “but u can have up to three boarders if you do live there. They don’t have to know each other but they have to take their meals together and live together.”

“Single-room occupancy is the type of room with a padlock on the door, and that’s not allowed. What determines that is an interior inspection.”

Scotty March 12, 2013 at 01:43 PM
In regards to parking problems ....Central Nyack has a few streets that have numerous cars parked on the streets overnight...all winter. Waldron Ave....Dickinson Ave...W BroadWay...Ingalls St....all have cars that use the street as a parking alternative instead of the driveway. FYI. And a few have the license plates removed.
Paulette Renard March 12, 2013 at 03:26 PM
The police are earning $200 thousand and above on overtime. According to public records the speaker's compensation for 2012 was $181,128. He charged about $70 thousand in overtime. For what? What is Nanuet getting for this? Supervisor Gromack says that Clarkstown is one of the top 100 places to live. He is not living in Nanuet. Taxes are sky high reducing property values. Homes are becoming unsaleable because of lax enforcement of what people are allowed to get away with in homes that most of us understand are not being used under 'single family occupancy'. Who is going to buy a home when in the same street there are multiple cars parked on lawns, unregistered vehicles, adults (not 10 children as Epstein offered as an excuse) pouring out of single family homes in the mornings? Is Nanuet destined to go the way of parts of Ramapo? Is that what residents paying out of control taxes get for their money - a town that is fast becoming to look like a local rubbish heap? We are told by Epstein that absentee landlords are "paying taxes too" to excuse their behavior and people are playing "cat and mouse" with the regulations and the regulators. This makes me wonder who is the "cat" and who is the "mouse" in this scenario? Government is elected not to provide explanations and excuses but to provide solutions. Supervisor Gromack, Joel Epstein and the police are failing the citizens of Nanuet in enforcing the violations that are staring them in the face.
Paulette.. so many taxpayers are fed up with clowntown and its ignoring what many many taxpayers are saying.They Limit Freedom of Speech to 3 Minutes at town meetings!!!yet they turn their backs on limiting outragous overtime costs...more than outragous..they want to build a boardwalk around congeritevile lake!!!for whom? rocklandlake is not far and that lake attracts everyone..but another 4.5 Million borrowed..maybe the high cost is for the pilings to help support the boardwalk..because from many pictures i see of people it will need very deep pilings..AS to The safest place ie.the gromack statement..It has more to do with the DEMOGRAPHICS of The RESIDENTS.......clowntown doesnt have high density low income areas..so maybe just maybe its more of a NATURAL REASON..IE..WHO LIVES HERE.....NOT THE THOSE WHO SPEND SOO MUCH TIME WRITING TRAFFIC TICKETS.....in the end its We the Taxpayers who arent allowed to speak more than 3 minutes to voice our disatisfactions..sometimes I think I understand what the people had to endure world war II ...imagine if we limited lunch on maple ave to 3 minutes!!!!!!!!!seems here the majority pays for select few!!!!!so sad... Some people are talking about the 4 hours overtime the cop submitted and then left the force....many residents are demanding a Outside review...Every resident needs to be shown that there is NO other overtimes abuse issues ASAP..years ago a waitress added 5 dollars extra to a 22% tip I am sure it wasnt the first time
Mike Hirsch March 12, 2013 at 07:34 PM
You got that right Fox. Though I like Joel, and think that he does a decent job, why in the world would anyone (except Alex) pay someone a salary of $110,000 and overtime of $70,000 on top of that. Why not just give him a raise to a fixed salary of $125,000 and be done with it? I'm sure there are plenty of people in town who would take that deal if Joel declines it. Overtime has been used as a job perk and additional source of income in Clarkstown for many years, and not just the CPD. Alex will continue to give away your money until he retires, or you, the people, figure out a way to vote him out. By the way, Clarkstown is a great place to live in spite of it's "elected" officials, not because of them.
Sammy Mull April 03, 2013 at 02:35 AM
we give suggestion to your car remove carefully.


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