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Douglaston Mattone home sparks neighborly strife

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The two neighbors on Regatta Place in Douglaston are feuding over Mattone's construction of a two-story, 7,900-square-foot house on a lot that wraps partly around Soni's home, while the city Department of Buildings conducts an audit of the architectural plans. "I would not do that to a neighbor," Soni said in a recent telephone interview. "I would not build a monstrous house in front of someone else and block their view."Repeated calls to Mattone were not returned. Soni, who lives at 37-25 Regatta Place, has retained a lawyer to pursue possible legal action, and he lodged a formal complaint with the city Department of Buildings on Feb. 22 that the house at 37-19 Regatta Place 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."Before I could see the complete bay, the whole bay," said Soni, who owns the Corona-based import company House of Spices. "Now it's completely gone."Carl Mattone, part of the Mattone family's construction, real estate and legal empire, bought the original house at 37-19 Regatta Place in September 2003, according to property records. That house, a two-story building similar to the others in the neighborhood, was torn down to make way for the new construction, Soni said.Joseph Mattone, a well-known developer in Whitestone and Carl Mattone's father, has lived in the neighborhood since 1971, according to city records.Soni said he and his family, after moving to Douglaston in 1975, had been friendly with the Mattones through the years."We had met them during the parties in the neighborhood," he said. "(Joseph Mattone) had been to my home before."And before the construction on the new house began in October 2004, the Soni family enjoyed an unimpeded view of the bay from the picture windows in their two-story brick house, and three years ago spent $300,000 on renovations, including a balcony, to capitalize on the spectacular scenery. But thanks to the irregular shape of the Mattone lot, the new house appears to be completely blocking the Soni family's view of the water and cutting off natural light. Moreover, the new house is positioned so close to Soni's house that he is worried that "they can see into our living room," he said. "And I surely do not want to see into the neighbor's bedroom."The city is reviewing the application for the house, according to a Department of Buildings representative. "The application is under audit, based on objections" from the community, said Jennifer Givner, spokeswoman for the Buildings Department. Mattone has to adjust his original architectural designs, but "since the beginning of December they have not returned with revised plans," Givner said. Because the audit is ongoing, Givner could not specify what Mattone is required to revise, but she noted that the house's overall size will have to be reduced."The building's footprint will change from the original design, though based on the zoning, it won't change too much," she said.Soni's wife Sobhana said her family had been assured their views would not be blocked when construction on the Mattone house began."They said they were building a swimming pool" in the area adjacent to their balcony, she said. But the Sonis became suspicious when they saw foundation being poured in front of their balcony."Two months ago we realized this is no swimming pool," G. L. Soni said. "We feel they were trying to misguide us right from the beginning."Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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