Questions about Lee and Cuomo's Home Renovations Raised by Media

A column by David McKay Wilson in The Journal News describing renovations at the Chappaqua home of Sandra Lee (of the Food Network) and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has been picked up by the New York Post.

It's all about renovations at 4 Bittersweet Lane, which Lee described in interviews with USA Today, New York magazine and others.

What you need to know:
  • The estate, which Lee named Lily Pond, was assessed in 2008 at $1.7 million; sold to Lee in 2008 for $ 1.2 milion; and is now assessed at $936,000, according to lohud.com.
  • New Castle Building Inspector Bill Maskiell told Wilson he "had to hound" Lee to file for building permits for a gazebo and shed she had built; and that she did not apply for permits for some renovations described in those media interviews such as knocking down a wall to combine two spaces.
  •  Town assessment records do not include a finished basement, Wilson said. 
  • Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz said the renovations were purely decorative. 

It's all about property taxes, argues Wilson: "Keeping one's assessment from rising — or getting it reduced — is all part of suburban living in high-tax Westchester, and there are plenty of homeowners who do work to their homes without a permit. It's also a county where most municipalities have not revalued their real estate for decades, leaving thousands of homeowners with houses assessed and taxed at less than what they are worth." 

Pam Rosman May 15, 2014 at 07:23 AM
Some people are just more equal than others. I had to get permits last year for work done in my house before I bought it in 1975. That included a finished basement. This cost me several thousand dollars. Why? My house was reassessed years ago when all these things were here. Whatever work we had done, we got the proper permits for.
Anthony May 15, 2014 at 07:38 AM
The towns want as much revenue as possible and overstep their bounds by requiring permits for every little thing even to re-pair/rebuild a dry stone wall. In Cuomo/Lee's case, they are correct that no permit is required for "decorating" ie painting,wallpapering etc. However a finished basement, and any structural modifications do require permits, according to the NYS Building Code. which Cuomo should be familiar with. Also the Shed and Gazebo require permits as well. Nice to be the Governor and a Celeb - you get away with it and believe that you are above the law and the taxpayers.
Bill Payer May 15, 2014 at 11:32 AM
Theresa..... I bet you think she know how to cook also!
Anthony May 15, 2014 at 12:31 PM
Not even his mother thinks she knows how to cook !
Theresa Flora May 15, 2014 at 04:00 PM
Bill: I've never seen her show, so I couldn't comment.


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