Sunday, January 07, 2007


The house next door to mine was torn down and is being replaced by a huge "McMansion", the biggest in the neighborhood. I live in NYC, where the plots of land in my neighborhood are only 60 ft by 100 ft, so the houses are small. This house has an extra 20 ft of land and the new owners have used every inch that the law allows. Although I don't like the house, I respect their right to do with their property as they wish. They seem to think, that because they have all this money to build, they have the right to do anything else they want, no matter whose rights it impinges on.

We tried to be good, welcoming neighbors. Weeks went by and the lawn was unmowed. When the grass was almost up to my waist, and we were still getting promises that it will be mowed soon, we were forced to call the city and complain. They must have received a notice of this because very soon afterwards they were out mowing in the pouring rain. A few hours after they left, a huge old tree in their back yard fell onto my property, barely missing my car and screen room and knocked some of the siding off my garage. We notified them immediately, thinking it was an accident. Although I couldn't use the garage for a few days, we waited until the tree surgeon they hired could come clear the mess. We didn't even bother them about the garage. My husband and I thought this was just an act of nature. My other neighbor swears the new owner probably tried to cut the tree down on his own and caused the damage.

Construction continued. Although it was noisy and dirty, we kept to ourselves. After all, these people were going to be our neighbors and we wanted to get along. While they were doing demolition, they asked us to move our car out of our driveway every day, just in case some debris fell. We obliged, even though it meant getting up early every day. While putting the roof on the house, the roofer dropped a 2 by 4 from the roof on the hood of my new car. The car was in the driveway--it was a Sunday morning. No work is allowed to be done then. The neighbor said he didn't want any trouble and didn't even want to go through insurance (he is probably using unlicensed contractors). He volunteered to pay for the repair and a car rental while the work was being done. Of course when he found out how much the work would actually cost, he was quite upset, but paid anyway. He offered us a little extra money to make sure the car was not in the driveway while they were working and promised to use licensed contractors from now on. Of course this did not happen.

Every time my husband speaks to him about the dirt on my property, he gets abusive. The other day, someone was throwing debris over the fence, into my yard. It only stopped when we threatened and did call the police. It turns out that the child of a worker was doing this. All he had to do was own up to the truth and stop, but he wouldn't do that.

About 2 months ago, we had some very heavy rainstorms. When I got home from work, my husband told me that water was pouring into the basement through the electrical box. A big part of my basement was ruined. It took Con Ed days to show up but when they finally did, we were told it was my neighbor's doing. He illegally cut the electrical line from his house to mine and left an open pipe in the ground. The pipe was working as a conduit for the water. We now must take him to court and once again, he is threatening us.

Today, Sunday, he is building the roof to his garage. It is illegal to work on Sunday. We called the city and made him stop. I listen to his banging six days a week, I will take my peace and quiet on Sunday, as the law allows. His workers also saw fit to use my garage roof to lean on while building his. We also stopped that.

I cried when the house next door to mine was ripped down. It was a great old house (same as mine), built in 1927 with stained glass windows and cathedral ceilings in the living room. Great mahogony beams crossed this ceiling. The people that sold it (were forced to move to Florida because of a job) loved the house. They spent tons modernizing and adding charm before they left. I cried, but I understood. Now I cry because of the people I will now have to call neighbor. My neighborhood consisted of teachers, nurses, police, fireman, etc, hard working people who got along and respected each other. Although we aren't all friends, we are all civil, have long conversations when we pass each other in the street and would generally do anything to help one another. If I could have one wish now, it would be for the family building this house to sell it to someone else. No one on my block has been royalty before. No one thinks they are royalty. There is no reason for this family to think they are any better than anyone else.

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