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Board rejects Hedges' bid for variance

A woman who ran a home where a 12-year-old Bronx girl was staying when the girl drowned in the Niagara River last summer will appear in court again Monday after the city's Zoning Board of Appeals rejected a request to sanction an illegal fence and several backyard structures on the property.

The Zoning Board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to deny a variance that Eva Hedges had sought to allow her to keep a fence, three sheds and an enclosed gazebo in her backyard that violate city zoning codes for a residential neighborhood.

The fence and the backyard structures are the basis of one of two zoning code violations filed against Hedges last year for her home at 722 Fourth St. after the drowning death of Magdalena Lubowska. Lubowska was staying at the Fourth Street house when she went for a hike in the Niagara Gorge with a group of children and slipped into the river.

An attorney for Lubowska's parents has accused Hedges of operating an illegal summer camp for Polish immigrants in the Fourth Street home.

The city also charged Hedges with violating a city zoning ordinance by illegally renting out rooms in the single-family home on three different occasions in July, August and November 2008.

No criminal charges have been filed against Hedges, and she has denied that she operated a bed-and-breakfast or a camp in her home.

Hedges sought a variance to the city's zoning codes that would have allowed her to keep a fence that is taller than allowed, as well as the enclosed gazebo and sheds. The structures violate city zoning codes because more than a third of the property is covered with buildings, according to city records.

Muscato, in the application, said the backyard structures were for family entertainment and the tall fence was designed to keep one of her sons, who is handicapped, safe.

Hedges is scheduled to appear in Niagara Falls City Court on the zoning code violations on Monday. The charges have been postponed several times while Hedges sought the variance from the city.

e-mail: djgee@buffnews.com

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