G. L. Soni, owner of the Corona import company the House of Spices, has lived at 37-25 Regatta Place for 30 years. Last fall the house next door at 37-19 Regatta Place was torn down by its new owner, Carl Mattone of the Mattone construction and legal empire. In place of the original two-story home, Mattone started building a 7,900-square-foot mansion that Soni says is cutting off light and blocking his view of Little Neck Bay."I'm looking at the chimney here," Soni said while standing in his living room one day, gazing out the picture windows that used to show him Little Neck Bay but now frame the solid mass of the Mattone house.Mattone did not return phone calls for comment.The Mattone land is an L-shaped lot that partially wraps around the Sonis' home. When work began on the house a few months ago, Soni said a Mattone relative told his family that a swimming pool was being built next to their balcony and that the new house would not block their view of the bay. But Soni contends the plans were to build a wing of the house in front of their balcony instead. "If we had known from the beginning, we would have stopped it," Soni said. Three other neighbors, while declining to be quoted, said their views of the water had been affected as well, and one resident cited fears that her house's value would depreciate.Soni has registered a complaint with the city Department of Buildings that the Mattone house was being constructed too close to the lot line as well as being too tall for the area's zoning designation for one-family detached housing.In addition, Soni said he has not been able to conduct his own review of the Mattone house's architectural plans.Stuart Klein, a lawyer that Soni has retained and the former general counsel for the Department of Buildings from 1978-1984, said he has been unable to locate the plans, which by law are required to be on file with the city agency."We did a search and were not able to find the plans for the new building. They are missing, and there is no explanation," Klein said.The city agency had issued a stop-work order May 18 because the construction permits for the Mattone house had expired April 1 and the agency found that ongoing work did not conform to the approved architectural plans on file, according to Department of Buildings spokeswoman Ilyse Fink.While the construction permits were renewed Monday, the stop-work order was still in effect Wednesday, according to the Department of Buildings. It was unclear whether Mattone had adjusted his original architectural designs and filed them with the city, Fink said.In the time between the original permits' expiration April 1 and the renewal Monday, Soni said he still heard the sounds of hammering and drilling coming from next door."They've been working all along very feverishly," he said. "It's rather fascinating how they got the permits without having the plans on file," Klein said."The Bible tells you to love your neighbor," Soni said. "This is no way to love a neighbor."Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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