Line in the Sand: It’s neighbor VS neighbor in property war

The Courier/Photo by Melissa Chan

A fence — erected above covered sinkholes and below scaffolding — marks the battle line between two neighbors in Flushing.

The neighborhood spat — between developers looking to build a seven-story condo community and a family living in a private home — has been brewing for over four years and has called into question where the property line between the two is drawn, according to both parties. The seven-member Joza family, who has been residing in their 33rd Avenue home for 23 years, said ongoing construction in the adjacent property has “killed” their quality of life.

“We can’t even open our windows. You have to wake up at 7 in the morning to these banging sounds, and it’s like that up until 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening,” said Linda Hernandez. “We can’t even come out and enjoy our backyard. We get no more sunlight back here because it’s actually blocking it completely — everything.”

The family said they filed more than 40 complaints with the city. Among their gripes about noise and pollution, they said the developer has built scaffolding directly above their garage. The construction, they said, has also caused cracks in the foundation of their garage and home, as well as sinkholes in the pavement due to excavation.

Developer Horizon 33 Management LLC heavily disputed the claims, saying the family is the real offender by encroaching onto their property.

Julie Chang, managing member of Horizon, said the Joza family’s fence was actually put up four-feet into their land. She said the issue has already been taken to court, where she said the judge ruled in favor of Horizon.

“As far as I know, everything follows the building code. The scaffolding is required by the Department of Buildings for safety reasons. If it wasn’t by DOB code, they would have already taken action,” Chang said.

But the Joza family’s lawyer, Howard Levine, said that statement is “totally incorrect.”

Levine confirmed that 10 inches along the east side of the Joza property, near their driveway, is in question, but he said the fence — which has been standing for over three decades — is not four feet on the developers’ land.

He said the “minimal dispute” over inches does not eradicate the fact that developers trespassed to erect the scaffolding, which he said hangs halfway across the family’s garage.

The DOB did not return repeated calls for comment in time for press.

Horizon was able to obtain a variance in order to build a multiple dwelling. Chang said the finished product will be a condo community, with a church on the first floor.

“This building contributes a lot to the community,” she said.

Chang also said the developers did not cause the alleged deteriorations on the family’s property, pointing to the fact that the house was “already very shaky and old” even before construction began.

Meanwhile, the family — who has been living in the Flushing area for 44 years — said they plan on packing up and leaving as soon as possible.

“We don’t enjoy this area anymore. We’re out of here,” said Hugo Joza.

More from Around New York