Neighbors in Throggs Neck have endured a ‘little shop of horrors’ growing in the front and back yards of 274 Balcom Avenue for some years now.
Buckets of raw fish, rotten tomatoes, oranges and plastic bottles containing a yellow liquid that emit a urine-like aroma are scattered among piles of wood and scrap metal, reek outside an overgrown property with vines so thick that they would rival Wrigley Field’s ivy.
The 3-story brick 1950s home, which has is attached on both sides, is solely inhabited by 74-year-old Richard Kehrle; a disheveled man who is hard of hearing and suffers from a severe speech impediment. He’s lived on Balcom Avenue for half a century and inherited the modest house from his parents following their passing.
“He’s a hoarder,” said Kehrle’s next door neighbor, Lauren Torres. She and her family has put up with the smell of urine and feces coming from Kehrle’s yard for many years. She claims the odorous fluids run into her property whenever it rains.
“We literally can’t even sit outside in our own yard,” Torres said, adding that Kehrle’s backyard is about two feet higher than ground level because of all the junk he stores there.
She explained that he scours the neighborhood daily with his shopping cart, collecting cartloads of junk to bring into his home.
“Recently he found poles that (hold) a chain link fence that are now in the backyard,” Torres said.
Kehrle downplayed the situation, saying that he “only grows tomatoes to eat,” on Tuesday, October 1.
He also said that the fish and bottles he keeps outside are to deter mosquitoes and that they consist of mostly rainwater.
Many city agencies have inspected Kehrle’s home, such as Adult Protective Services and even the Environmental Protection Agency, he said.
“The FDNY told me that his home is a fire hazard and one spark could make the entire thing catch fire,” Torres said, mentioning that Con Edison can’t even get in to the house to read his gas meter.
Kerhle expressed frustration with his Throggs Neck neighbors who are meddling in his affairs. He’s asking for help to set up a GoFundMe page so that he can “raise $500,000 for his house and move out of the neighborhood for good.”