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Broad Channel house work leads to neighborly tension

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Neighbors of the West 16th Road home sent written complaints over the past couple months to the city Department of Buildings about what they believed was illegal construction of a greenhouse/sunroom that John Girdusky was going to build. Girdusky contends his project is completely legal.The complaints led to a Department of Buildings audit, which halted work on the house July 14. Girdusky had begun work on the house by taking apart the deck and beginning to lay the foundation for the addition. He said all of the materials for the construction had already been purchased.But the discrepancies between the sides only begin there. Neighbors have accused Girdusky, a New York Police Department detective, of using his job and status within the city as a way of receiving permits normally viewed as "impossible to receive." Mary and Mike Clarity, who live next door to Girdusky's 66 West 16th Rd. home, said that when they attempted to get a permit to move part of their deck approximately 12 inches, they were only given a leeway of 3 inches, yet somehow Girdusky acquired a permit to build a whole extension which would cover his entire deck.Mike Clarity said he believes Girdusky's position as a chauffeur for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau is the reason for Girdusky's special treatment. The Manhattan DA's office would not comment on Morgenthau's security arrangements but a spokeswoman said "Mr. Morgenthau would do nothing of the such," referring to any attempt on his part to help anyone out on personal matters."That man's record is impeccable," Girdusky said of Morgenthau. "Do you think for one minute he'd even entertain such an idea? In a million years I'd never ask that man for a favor like that. But even if I did, I'd be marched out of his office so fast my head would spin."The permit's standing remains hanging in the balance.The Buildings Department audit, triggered by the complaints, cited several gaps in Girdusky's plans, which were submitted by a hired architect. The audit showed Girdusky needed to further explain how he was going to support the added weight on the soil, which is weaker than normal since his house is built right next to Jamaica Bay.Girdusky was given 10 business days, until July 28, to file amendments to his plans or his permit would be revoked, said Jennifer Givner, a Buildings spokeswoman.Girdusky received an additional 10-day extension and had until Aug. 3 to file his papers, Givner said."I hadn't even heard that," Girdusky said. "My architect takes care of all of that for me. I guess I'll have to check into it."Givner said she had not been made aware of any new submissions as of Tuesday.The Buildings audit said the proposed greenhouse is "contrary to the definition of Ôgreenhouse' because the subject structure does not appear to have a glass or slow-burning plastic enclosure to use for cultivating plants." Slow-burning plastic is another material approved by the Buildings Department for use in greenhouses. In order to have an environment suitable for growing plants, certain materials are required, none of which were listed in Girdusky's plans.Girdusky never made any mention of building a greenhouse. He said the plans were for additional space for his family."I have an infant daughter, two sons from a previous marriage and a mother-in-law who is very sick," Girdusky said. "This would allow us more square feet."When questioned about why his plans called for a greenhouse when he never brought them up, Girdusky said he would have to contact his architect about the matter."I hired someone to do all of that. I didn't hold his hand and follow him down to the Buildings Department," Girdusky said. "The only thing I ever saw was that paper you hang in the window saying I am authorized to do work."But standardized procedures from the Department of Buildings suggest Girdusky had to sign off on the plans on a Plan/Work Approval Application."When you submit plans, even with an architect on your behalf, it's giving your approval," Givner said. "And the (Plan/Work Approval Form) requires the actual applicant's signature on the plans before they are submitted.Girdusky could not be reached for comment about this matter.Mike Clarity said he remains concerned with the extra leeway Girdusky was again granted."I thought when the DOB stepped in, it would be over, but I guess it's not," he said. Girdusky contends his job and contacts have nothing to do with the construction on his house."I never even write my occupation on any of the paperwork. I'm upset my reputation is being dragged through the mud," he said. "My wife and I went through an arduous application process just like everyone else. My wife and I have nothing to hide or I wouldn't be talking."Reach editorial intern Mallory Simon by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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