The family, who own a home on 33rd Avenue off Union Avenue, filed upwards of 40 complaints with the city against the construction site, for reasons ranging from sink holes, a cracked foundation under their garage, and incessant pounding as early as 7 a.m.
The pounding harassed their mother as she fought cancer until her recent passing, the Joza family said.
“She would beg us and ask us to please go over there and ask them to tone it down,” Linda Hernandez, a family member, said at the rally outside their home on Thursday, May 3. “She understood they were constructing, but sometimes it was just too overbearing. It was just all day.”
But the construction workers told them no, she said.
“The quality of our life is just down the drain, we can't even open our windows,” she said. “And we can't even come out and enjoy our yard.”
State Senator Tony Avella joined the family last week, calling on the city to conduct a full audit of the construction site.
“This is one of the worst examples I've ever seen of a developer just taking advantage of a neighboring property owner,” Avella said, pointing to the scaffolding that stretches across the Joza family's yard.
“What are we doing with construction in this city, that we have a one-family house and then we have this huge monstrosity next to it,” he said. “How would you like to live under this?”
The Joza family pointed out numerous sink holes around their garage, which they said were filled by either someone walking into their yard without permission, or pouring dirt over the side of their fence.
“Here's a situation where a developer just doesn't believe what the rights are in this country, that they can just literally extend the scaffolding over their property without their permission or without notification,” Avella said.
The family filed a private lawsuit against the developer, but Avella said that shouldn't be necessary.
“There's something very wrong with how the city operates in these situations,” he said. “The city should be protecting individuals who are victims.”
Although the community board voted down the construction three years ago, and was originally told that what is now a seven-story apartment building would be a church, the developer still received a permit from the Board of Standards and Appeals.
A representative from the Buildings Department said a developer does not need permission from adjoining property owners to build up to the property line. However questions regarding whether permission is needed to construct scaffolding over an adjacent property, or if the department will conduct an audit of the construction site, were not answered as of press time.
Ling Zhang, a city-certified superintendent overseeing the construction project, said after the rally that the building is four to seven feet from the property line.
He said the construction company, Horizon 33 Management LLC, would repair damage done to the Joza property. In addition, Zhang said he would take the scaffolding down in about a month.
“This protection is temporary, after I'm finished I'll take it out,” he said of the scaffolding.
But the Joza family said the damage is already done.
“It's really a nightmare,” Sonia Joza said. “I don't know why the city's allowing this.”