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‘Nightmare’ house site still plagues Bellerose

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The house that was once called “The Nightmare on Moline Street” in Bellerose no longer exists, but fears about what is going to replace it have rippled through the neighborhood.

The old house that caused so many bad dreams was a city-owned home infested with pigeons, rodents, and fleas. It was demolished in July 1996 after Pat Fallacaro and the Creedmoor Civic Association implored the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which owned the three-story building, to take it down because it was a health hazard.

After the home was leveled, Community Board 13 voted in a resolution that the property at 89-29 Moline St. would be developed for accessory use by an adjoining homeowner. The city also gave the neighbors the first right to buy the property, Fallacaro said.

“We offered to buy the land at auction but were concerned about the environmental safety of the property,” she said. “If we did buy the land, how would we get [a chemical] spill off of the property without spending $20,000 to clean it?”

She said she and her neighbor, Tony Manzo, asked for a written environmental statement that the property was clean. During the demolition, Fallacaro said, a chemical smell emanated from the soil and water leaking onto the property turned oily. But, Fallacaro said, they were told it was safe by the city, which would not give them anything in writing.

Fallacaro and Manzo live next door to the property.

After a back-and-forth, the city sold the lot to a construction company which said it is going to build a two-family house on the property. But the community is not sure that Spartacus Construction at 253-24 148th St. will keep up its side of the bargain.

Ron Sommo, a partner in Spartacus Construction, said he has sent letters to the residents, visited the neighborhood with the plans and has met all of the zoning regulations. He said his company has cleaned up the property and is building a two-family home, which complies with the zoning law.

“Everyone is worried about an apartment-type house,” Fallacaro said. “Every time we ask to see the plans, they say it is up to code.”

Sommo said the community does not have anything to worry about. He said he waited three years before starting to build the residence because he wanted to make sure the two-family house would meet all of the city’s building regulations for the area.

The neighbors’ concerns are grounded in uneasiness about a structure which resembles a New York City apartment building that was built on the block a few years back and looks horribly out of place on the tree-lined block of frame homes. Fallacaro said the community would not have a problem if they were sure the new two-family house would comform with the rest of the homes on the block.

“It is not going to be a square house and it will not have a flat top roof,” Sommo said. “We have done nothing wrong and when the community sees the beautiful brick home we are building, they will apologize.”

Fallacaro said the original home planned by Spartacus did not meet the areas zoning laws, and it was only after residents started complaining to the community board and local politicians that the company revised its plans.

“We are acting in good faith,” Sommo said. “We are planning everything to conform with the neighborhood.”

Fallacaro and Manzo also said the construction has caused their property to sag and crack. Manzo said his side alleyway is pulling away from his house because of the excavation on the new home’s property.

“They dug up to my property, which has caused it to fall away,” he said. “It is a big inconvenience because I can’t use my side door, which I used every day.”

Manzo’s side door, like the majority of property in Bellerose and the surrounding communities, opens onto the neighbor’s driveway. Manzo cannot open his door because a wood fence surrounding the construction is in the way.

The fence also has been a problem for the neighbors because until the city Department of Buildings issued a stop-work order, it was shoddily constructed. On Sunday the fence was fixed and restabilized.

Paul Wein, a spokesman for the Department of Buildings, said a stop-work order was issued July 17 because the construction fence was not up to code. He said once the repairs are made, the stop-work order will be lifted.

“The old fence was swaying and it had gaping holes,” Fallacaro said. “There are a lot of kids around here and someone could get hurt.”

Sommo said he has given the neighbors his lawyer’s card and told them to call him if there is a problem. He said he has also told the neighbors that if he causes damage to their property, he will fix it.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:18 pm, October 10, 2011
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