Gravesend residents are furious over a city ruling allowing construction to resume on a house that dwarfs their properties and violates current zoning laws — after the builder lied to the city about his plans.
Construction restarted this week on the six-story, 62-foot tall house on E. 12th Street between Avenues S and R — about twice the size as the homes next door — after a lawsuit by neighbors Betty Travitsky and Bella Center’s failed to convince the city to halt the project for good.
“I am appalled by it,” said Center, who testified against the project at public hearings. “It doesn’t fit in at all.”
Neighbors’ problems with the construction go back four years, when property owner Joseph Durzieh applied for and received permission to renovate an existing building on the site. But he ended up tearing down that building, in violation of the permit, and the city halted construction.
“I was so relieved when the city took away the building permit last year,” said one resident, who declined to give her name. “I thought the ordeal would be all over.”
Alas, it was not.
Durzieh appealed the decision to the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, who ruled in his favor this week, citing that he had performed a “significant amount” of construction while the old zoning laws were still applicable — and apparently ignoring the fact that he violated his original permit.
At the time his construction began, Durzieh’s plans complied with zoning laws. But about a month after construction began, the city downsized the neighborhood, and Durzieh’s structure was suddenly about 27 feet too tall.
To residents’ dismay, the city’s Oct. 5 ruling granted an exception for Durzieh, letting him build under old zoning laws — which allow for homes to be up to 70 feet tall — because Durzieh’s alteration application with the Department of Buildings was deemed acceptable, a decision that the house’s opponents find especially egregious.
“The city’s contumacious refusal to see the hand in front of its own face borders on the criminal,” said Stuart Klein, the neighbors’ lawyer.
Durzieh claims he’s spent more than $160,000 so far on the building, which is 14 percent of his $1.16 million budget.
Durzieh did not return calls for comment.