ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A David versus Goliath dispute is brewing between Inness, a resort that has upscale cabins overlooking a sprawling landscape with the Catskills in the distance, and an adjacent residential property owner who lists his house as a short-term rental providing a breathtaking view of the Shawangunk Ridge with the Rondout Valley below.
Resident Jason LaCarrubba’s primary dispute concerns the erosion on a 15-foot tall cliff that is about to undermine several trees that appear ready to fall onto a garage. Accompanying that issue is a list of concerns. They include intrusive noise from events, light pollution, nuisance activity overnight from resort guests, and traffic that comes onto the private road that serves three properties .
“The land has continued to slide down,” LaCarrubba said. “Inness has come over with their engineers and (said), ‘You need to do something about this. You need to build a retaining wall.’ And they were trying to say that the property line was at the top of the slope. I finally had my own survey done and my property line ends at almost the bottom of the slope.”
The eroding cliff and the disputed property line are also close to Inness’ construction areas for several cabins and a fitness center, with the sides disagreeing over whether that work has led to drainage flows that create or worsen the erosion.
Inness opened its $20.17 million project on 141.7 acres in January 2022 shortly before LaCarrubba finalized the $980,000 purchase of his 7.4-acre property two months later. LaCarrubba said town officials have been unwilling to get involved and state Department of Environmental Conservation representatives contend the impact is not something that falls under its jurisdiction.
Town Supervisor Michael Baden said Friday he was not immediately familiar with the current round of problems but had been told earlier this year that Inness had not violated terms of its Planning Board approval. He added that the town does not have a noise ordinance, making it impossible for the complaints to be addressed.
During a telephone interview Thursday, Inness managing partner Taavo Somer agreed that the erosion is a problem but said it was not caused by the resort’s construction. He contended work done by either LaCarrubba or the previous property owner is to blame, adding that the resort property line comes immediately to the edge of the cliff.
“Our engineers have reached out to his engineers to try to figure out a sequencing (of) what is on our property and what we can do,” Somer said. “The erosion is actually happening on his property, so that’s really not in our jurisdiction but there are things that we can try to do on our side of the properties.”
LaCarrubba said he has also found the cabins, which are in 14 buildings that are lined up in a row starting 370 feet from his home, to be problematic because of noise coming from guests throughout the night. He considers that, combined with activity that can be heard from events, to be a “total failure” of the town’s Aug. 13, 2018, site plan approvals that state the developers had conducted studies showing project revisions “reduced the lot line noise level sufficiently and the proposed use was found to be compliant … under the new configuration.”
Somer said the resort was found to be in compliance following a study last July. “We did whatever the town asked,” he said. “We had to hire a sound engineer to come out and do a noise study, which was submitted to the town. His conclusion was that we were well below the threshold.”
Those concerns were raised during a Planning Board meeting in June. Officials were told by other neighbors that the project caused problems both during construction and after it opened. Minutes to the session show that neighbor Mark Chiu was troubled by what he said was damage his home.
“High volume of construction vehicles driving up and down the road have caused cracks in the walls of our home, further damage to the road,” he said, “and overall (we) have lost the peace and quiet of our neighborhood due to the noise, light and air pollution.”
Somer said there have been meetings with Chiu to discuss the problems but did not say whether a solution had been reached. “We literally just met with them last week,” Somer said.
Both sides in the dispute have a common complaint that there has been trespassing on their respective properties. Somer said people were walking their dogs on the resort’s nine-hole golf course without cleaning up after the animals, while LaCarrubba said people from the cabins were wandering into his yard.
However, the trespassing complaints may be the one area where a common ground was found with LaCarrubba’s suggestion that informational posting in guest rooms explain that walking onto neighboring land is not permitted. The information should include descriptions of where property lines are, he said.
“I think that’s fair,” Somer said. “We’ve just never had any issues in the past or complaints by anyone that our guests were going off-property. It has never come up.”