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Neighbor’s new garage sparks feud in Forest Hills

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

One structure is causing several problems for a Forest Hills resident who claims that her neighbors did not have the necessary permits to erect a 12-by-20-foot garage in their backyard.

Sandi Stevens has been living at her 69th Road home for 10 years, but in the last month she said that the neighbor that borders her backyard has erected an illegal garage, causing damage to her yard. Because her neighbor’s property sits at a higher grade than her home, she claims this structure has compromised her retaining wall and brick work — and caused water runoff to erode the soil on her side.

“His property is higher than mine so when it rains, the rain water seeps through to my side and causes mudslides,” Stevens said. “It is an unbelievable situation. The building went up in four days. They had men come and build it throughout the night.”

Stevens has made numerous complaints to 311 and visited the Department of Buildings (DOB) to file complaints about the offending structure.

As of Aug. 5, there were four open DOB violations on the Olcott Street property, two for working without a permit and two for front yard violations.

Kwok Tse, owner of the Olcott Street property where the structure was erected, defended his decision to build a garage.

“I have a very large piece of property, around 65,000 square feet, I should be entitled to have a garage. Why shouldn’t I have a garage,” Tse told the Ridgewood Times in a phone interview. “[Stevens] has a garage on her property, why shouldn’t I have one?”

Tse claims that the structure in his yard is legal and he expects the DOB to approve the building.

“The architect I hired is currently in the middle of filing paperwork with the Department of Buildings,” Tse said. “I fully expect the Department of Buildings to approve my garage. The fire department even came and looked at the garage and said that nothing is wrong with it.”

According to the DOB website, there is an Environmental Control Board (ECB) meeting set for Sept. 1 on the open violations at Tse’s property.

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