The battle between the NYC Buildings Department, the NYC Health Department and neighbors of a senior citizen described as a ‘hoarder’ in Throggs Neck is still ongoing, with no real solution in sight.
The row house at 274 Balcom Avenue, between Harding and Lawton avenues sticks out like a sore thumb.
The poorly maintained property with its debris cluttered driveway stands out in stark contrast to the neighboring neatly kept attached one-family brick homes.
All the other driveways and patios are relatively clean and manicured.
Anyone walking past 274 Balcom Avenue is immediately met with the stench of human urine, feces and piles of junk, buckets of rotting organic matter and overgrown weeds.
After months of complaints and inspections of the property by city agencies, an end to the dilemma appeared close.
A November 17 hearing to clean up of the property has failed to resolve the issue.
According to a Buildings Department spokesperson, the property’s owner, Richard Kehrle, did not show up for the hearing.
Kehrle, who inherited the home from his parents, has lived in the 3-story brick home for over 50 years, but neighbors like Lauren Torres, who lives in an identical home, wants him to clean up his act or get out.
Torres is grateful that the colder weather has given her family a reprieve from the horrid stenches that loom from Kehrle’s property.
“During the winter we get to catch a break because the flies are gone and the smells kind of freeze over,” Torres said. “He’s still bringing out buckets of urine and poop though.”
Torres said Kehrle is also a garbage hoarder, venturing out as early as 8 a.m. to sort through the neighborhood trash for ‘prizes’.
According to the DOH press office, the agency issued a violation for harborage conditions (conducive to rats) back in May 2019.
After two separate failed attempts to gain access to the property to clean it, the DOH issued a COA (Commissioner’s Order to Abate) on September 23, mandating the owner to clean up the property or additional escalating fines would be issued.
There have been two more attempts, one in October and another in December, to help Kehrle clean up his property since the COA was issued, but it was denied access by the home owner.
The Bronx Times Reporter tried to reach Kehrle for a comment, but he has locked his fence to prevent anyone from stepping foot on his property.
Kehrle’s obsession with collecting waste and trash have his neighbors questioning his mental state.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “hoarding can be related to compulsive buying (such as never passing up a bargain), the compulsive acquisition of free items (such as collecting flyers), or the compulsive search for perfect or unique items (which may not appear to others as unique, such as an old container).”