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Dispute over firewall heads for court

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After years of wrangling, it appears a dispute between a Gifford Avenue homeowner and a developer is heading for the courts.

The Fliegelmans, Elix and Dave, of 2745 Gifford Avenue, believe their property was compromised when local contractor Alfonso Angelisi constructed a new 3-story, 2-family against their home in 2004.

The brick house was one of three the developer built on a lot formerly occupied by a single one-family house. The controversial project went through several zoning challenges, but was eventually certified by the NYC Department of Buildings and completed.

Because the Fliegelmans’ 100-plus-year-old wooden framed house sits on the property line, the building code allows a new structure to be built up against the old one.

According to the couple, the developer forced the Fliegelmans to close up the windows on one side of their house. They also accused the contractor of sending workers on their roof to waterproof a parapet wall without their permission.

The Fliegelmans have opposed the development at 2747 Gifford Avenue from day one because it would have impacted their quality of life they say.

In an attempt at mediation, Angelisi met with the Fliegelmans, but a truce could not be worked out.  Threats of legal action led to another, more recent attempt at a compromise, but that also failed. Now, both sides are as hardened as ever.

At the heart of the dispute is the firewall, built by Shannon Brothers’ construction, that the family does not feel will protect them, considering the obvious dangers of living in an old wood-frame house.

The couple feels the wall leaves them vulnerable to a fire from next door.

“Bronx FDNY commander James Esposito visited my home,” Elix continued, “And he noted that the firewall would not protect my home from fire.”

Many who have seen the wall wonder if it would stop the spread of fire for five minutes.  “You can stick a broom through the holes in the firewall,” Mary Jane Musano, of the Waterbury-LaSalle Community Association said. 

The Department of Buildings, which sent a flurry of investigators over to the property to examine the wall, have not yet certified it as an appropriate FDNY-approved, fire-rated wall.

 “The owner of the building at 2747 Gifford Avenue needs to submit a structural report from a licensed engineer, to Buildings stating that the construction and fire rating of the shared wall is in accordance with the building code,” said DOB deputy press secretary Caroline Sullivan. “The report has not yet been submitted.”

 “Not only did Angelisi and Shannon Brothers create a situation that is dangerous for my family, and three others that will occupy his home, he has also turned my house into a coffin,” said David.

Angelisi referred questions about his property to his lawyer, who did not return calls as of press time. 

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