Coastal: Another Look At Construction And Trees

If there’s one thing I’ve learned writing “06880,” it’s that every voice deserves to be heard.

I heard Joe Feinleib’s this weekend. I wanted to learn more about his company — Coastal Construction — in light of the controversy over the home he’s building for himself on Prospect Road.

Joe and Coastal have been in Westport for 18 years. He’s got a design degree, and says that he starts every project with aesthetics in mind — not economics.

He wanted to change the look of homes being built here: “the same box Colonial, almost totally devoid of character.” He says that out of over 100 homes built in Westport, none are duplicates.

Joe is responsible too for the building at the southeast corner of Morningside North and the Post Road (First County Bank and the Coastal Point apartments). He used a combination of native grasses and, in the rear — after collaborating with neighbors — slow-growing spruces.

Coastal’s Morningside development, with rosebud trees.

He’s also behind the restoration of the mill building on Richmondville Avenue. Rather than knocking it down to put up 5 or 6 new homes, he is restoring the historic structure as a condo complex, with extensive amenities.

Sycamore tree saved at The Mill at Richmondville.

Many of the trees have been retained, including a 150-year-old sycamore. At Oak Ridge off Imperial Avenue, Joe saved a stand of majestic white oaks.

Oak Ridge oaks.

“They posed no hazard to the family that will live there, or on the neighboring property,” he says. With more than one of the Prospect Road trees rotted in the center, and 2 of the larger trees canted more than 20%, he cites safety as the reason for cutting those down.

Joe says he looks forward to working with the Planning & Zoning Commission to review ways to preserve town trees. When that’s not possible, he advocates a sustainable plan that helps property owners move forward in an environmentally sound way.

Oak tree saved on Prospect Road.

9 responses to “Coastal: Another Look At Construction And Trees

  1. Sure would have saved controversy had Joe been aware enough of neighbors’ possible umbradge at the cutting of trees had he simply put signage up saying WHY the trees he felled were dispensable…just a note, Joey, would have been so thoughtful.

  2. Hey, Dan, you think you’re The New York Times and have to be fair? Donovan, the neighbor on Prospect Street, had signs protesting the clear cut on both sides of the road for a long time. Did Joe ever meet with him to explain the angle of the dangle? I don’t know. Want to ask?

    And if Joe does turn out to be the good guy, despite two damning reviews on Google accusing him of the exact same thing, I’d be delighted. Mazel Tov and my grandmother’s other phrase I can’t remember, Keenina something.

    But the issue of contractors scrapping every lot clean before building a new house just because it’s easier for them remains critical.

    Is Joe willing to join that fight as a longtime local expert on saving old native trees and not planting environmentally useless new saplings? And help limit that practice by testifying before the endless town hearings required before new legislation is passed?

    Let’s not give up the fight because we may have hit one wrong guy.

    • Don’t believe a word of what he says. I have seen Coastal’s newly constructed homes and they are monstrosities, completely out of proportion with surrounding homes, and in my neighborhood at least, required extensive tree cutting that denuded the neighborhood.

  3. Toni Simonetti

    Every developer should be asked: have you ever, or do you intend to plant Japanese barberry, Bradford Pear, burning bush?

  4. Richard Johnson

    Weird how so many spec builders care so deeply about neighbors when it comes to removing trees for their purported safety, yet so little in all other respects. Also interesting to note that the apparent epidemic of trees falling on houses and people that spec builders are fighting tirelessly against is not being reported anywhere. Must be a coverup by the mainstream media!

  5. Carl A. Swanson

    I moved here in 1952 and they were complaining about the “huge houses” and taking down all the trees then. Lord, we have enough trees in Westport as is . . . every time someone farts on North Avenue, we lose power. Joe is good people.

  6. There’s a new house near me where the builder nearly clearcut the property, leaving only a few old growth trees in the back and maximizing the backyard space… pretty typical, except this property backs up to the Merritt. You can’t hear anything of the highway in the house, but you can pick out faces in the cars and see if they are looking at you! Hasn’t sold yet, big surprise.

    More importantly, we live in a world full of hazards. I’ve cut my fair share of trees down to protect my house (like the huge 80ft pine that was 6ft from the house with branches clear over it), but we can’t cut our way to safety. We also can’t cut our way to consistent power… we can bury our way to it, but we won’t do that because it’s “too expensive.”

  7. I don’t know what all this nay-saying is about. What I do know is that Joe Feinleib and his firm Coastal Luxury build distinctive houses and beautifies the property with an abundance of plantings. This is his proven recipe for success. He built Coastal Point on the Post Road where First County Bank is a tenant. It certainly is one of the most beautiful if not the most beautiful complexes on all of the Post Road with extraordinary care applied to the landscaping. I know Joe personally and he does not just put up any house just to make money he puts his heart into every house he builds. I know he spent several months meeting with the neighbor and met with his landscape architect and several Arborists including the next-door neighbors arborist who recommended that the tree should be taken down due to safety. I also know that when we I moved to Westport, we bought a house and the builder cleared trees to make room. We planted a bunch more tree since we have moved here but we have to find the balance.