I am pretty sure that he is doing the same thing in the backyard to use part of the cellar as a room, with an opening in the garden, making the basement+ half of the cellar a duplex."
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Carroll Gardens "Eco Brooklyn" House Gets Stop Work Order For Digging Under Publicly-Owned Front Yard
Here is a new twist on the ongoing debate about Carroll Gardens' signature front yards. As New York City is is trying to clarify the rules governing ownership of the court yards, appropriate uses and possible enforcement of the rules, one Carroll Gardens owner is taking the debate to a whole new level.
Gennaro Brooks-Church, director of Eco Brooklyn, has been doing construction on his home at 22 2nd Street house for the last three years. It serves as a green show house for his business, and "highlights best green building practices for brownstone renovations in the NY metropolitan area."
2nd Street residents had become used to the long, drawn-out renovation at this location. However, recently, lots and lots of dirt was being carried out of the house. Almost 60 cubic yards of dirt, in fact. Enough to fill five dumpsters.
And just as everyone was wondering what was up, the work came to an abrupt halt. It turned out that Brooks- Church was in fact excavating an extra space UNDER THE FRONT YARD.
But what is more amazing is that Brooks-Church had gotten a permit from the NYC Department of Buildings for, in part, "underpinning and excavation of cellar w/ extension at front yard for storage purposes."
What the geniuses at DoB forgot to realize before issuing the permit was that the deep front yards in Carroll Gardens are actually the property of New York City and not the homeowner. The property line starts at the building and not at the sidewalk. Most probably Brooks-Church was aware of that, but kept his mouth shut.
When DoB realized the mistake, it issued a violation for "excavation work for an extension beyond front property line. The front property line is at the front wall! The cellar may not be extended onto public property. Construction is contrary to city law."
In addition, the Borough Commissioner has also issued a 15-days Letter of Intent to revoke the original permit.
It will be difficult for the homeowner to prove that he is entitled to the space under the front yard. It was determined beyond a shadow of doubt that the neighborhood courtyards are protected by a decades-old law, that they are public property and NOT the property of the owners.
I guess its time to put all 60 cubic yards of dirt back...
I just received an email from a reader with a link on Eco Brooklyn's web site featuring lots of photos of the excavation. The reader writes:
"Look at these pictures I copied from his site (http://ecobrooklyn.com/photos-of-our-jobs/?shashin_album_key=202 ) . It’s a room underneath the front yard. You can see the mailbox on the wall, next to the current basement window. You can also see the gas & water pipes + the electricity line… It gives an idea of the depth and size.