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But both the breeze and their view were about to be compromised before the city Department of Buildings stepped in July 14 to put a stop to their next door neighbor's new construction project.
"We have traditions here in Broad Channel to maintain this beautiful view," Mary Clarity said. "You just don't do things like this to hurt your neighbors."
John Girdusky had intended to build a sunroom/greenhouse extension onto his house directly next to the bay. Neighborhood opposition, including four complaints to the Buildings Department and letters to the Department of Environmental Conservation, led to a DOB audit which halted Girdusky's work.
"We sent (the DEC) all kinds of letters citing rules he was violating and they just ignored us," Michael Clarity said. "Every time we inquired they just told us they were still reviewing. It was like they didn't want to be bothered. Then he still got his permit."
Girdusky's home at 66 West 16th Rd. sits on wooden planks and the proposed project would be placed over his existing deck, completely blocking out the view of the bay enjoyed by the Claritys as well as other neighbors.
While attempts to contact Girdusky at his home were unsuccessful, Department of Buildings documents show he hired a private contractor to certify his job as legal and within guidelines set by the the two city agencies, the DOB and the DEC.
Buildings Department spokeswoman Jennifer Givner said her agency ordered an audit be done after numerous complaints arose from neighbors.
Givner said that because of the area and type of land Girdusky was attempting to build on a more detailed explanation of how he would support the addition was required.
The audit said Girdusky had not filed all of the appropriate paperwork in order to comply with regulations and was given until July 24 to respond with amendments before his project was shut down.
Neighbors wondered how Girdusky was even granted a DEC permit to begin with, given how hard it is to obtain one, particularly in their environmentally sensitive area.
"I wanted to extend our part of the porch, which extends into the water, and all the DEC gave us was about three inches," Mary Clarity said. "Our other neighbor was denied extension plans. too. We wanted a couple of inches and couldn't do it, yet (Girdusky) can build a whole new structure. It's very strange."
Neighbors speculated that Girdusky had connections in the city government which enabled him to obtain a Department of Environmental Conservation permit.
"He boasted to me over the side of the deck how he paid a contractor $15,000," Michael Clarity said. "I called the DEC at one point to see if they had done a survey which was required for the permit. They told me they had a contractor do the survey, who then turned out to be the same contractor Girdusky had paid on his own."
A spokesman for the DEC could not be reached for comment.
Members of the community outraged over Girdusky's plans said they thought there was "something off" with whole construction project.
Copies of Girdusky's construction plans filed with the Department of Buildings showed support beams under the deck that residents contend never existed.
Neighbors said Girdusky simply removed a couple of the top planks to begin building and never added any extra support for the new structure.
The Claritys and their neighbors hope the Buildings Department will see through what they believe are fictitious construction plans.
Michael Clarity warned in his original letter to the city that if Girdusky were allowed to continue construction, he and his neighbors were "prepared to litigate."
As they talked with pride about how wonderful their property is, the Clarity's said they were told their property value could decrease by $75,000 to $100,000 if the construction was allowed to continue.
Both husband and wife said if what Girdusky had done was legal, they would have no choice but to accept their loss, but their hopes remained high that they would prevail and the neighbor's project will be be permanently halted.
"It's looking good," Mary Clarity said as she looked out onto her deck. "But we just don't feel like it's over yet."
Reach editorial assistant Mallory Simon by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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