City fines owner of Lyons Ave. SRO

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Illegal living accommodations recently put one Zerega home in the spotlight. 

According to sources, one house on the normally quiet Lyon Avenue appears to be renting out seven separate spaces in a legal two-family building.

Upon learning of the sketchy situation, which has led to several community complaints, Councilman Jimmy Vacca began his investigation with the Department of Buildings.

“SROs are unsafe and bad for the community,” Vacca said.  “I felt it was important to reach out.”

While the neighbors love the calm, relatively low-density residential Zerega community, they fear such abuses could drastically change the character of the area.

“It’s quiet and everyone here keeps to themselves,” said Gertrude Choischer, who lives down the block in a similar two-family property.  “It sounds like there’s too many people living over there.”

Local residents know little about the property’s status, though some have seen many different individuals walking in and out of the building. 

On April 28, around noon, a resident said he saw someone walk up to the home’s door, and upon noticing only two unmarked doorbells, proceeded to yell up at the windows, unsure of where his friend lived. 

 “The house has been a problem for a while,” a spokesperson from Vacca’s office said. 

Upon reviewing the property, Department of Buildings and Environmental Control Board violations were issued.

The ECB report cites the property as a “residence altered for occupancy as a dwelling for more than the legally approved number of families.”

A second violation referred to the illegal conversion process, stating the building must either obtain the proper reconstruction permit or restore the home to its original layout.

While there is evidence of past inquiries as to the status of the property, the overcrowding appears to be a recent occurrence. 

In March 2006, a DOB citation stated, “No evidence of SRO noted, and 2nd floor is vacant at time of inspection.”

The house was most recently inspected on April 10, and revealed five illegal conversions on the second floor as well as one in the  basement.

The property owner, believed to be Nazir Khan, is currently accruing daily penalties unless he can bring the building up to code, which would require the removal of the illegal apartments.

Vacca suggested the occupants refer to housing programs during their temporary displacement. 

“This is a good victory for Zerega,” Vacca stated.

Khan, could not be reached for comment, as of press time. 

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