Hunt Ave. home loses its sunshine

Joan Porteus (above) stands outside of the Hunt Avenue home her family has occupied since the 1940s. A developer has altered her lifestyle by attaching another home to her house, sealing up several windows abutting the property line. - Photo by Walter Pofeldt

A longtime Hunt Avenue resident is angered with the developer of a property next door to her home that has stolen her sunshine…literally.

Unfortunately, the developer appears to be within his rights.

Joan Porteus, of 1941 Hunt Avenue, has lived in her home since her family purchased it shortly after the end of World War II.

The house next door previously had an extra lot, which was sold off to a developer. The developer attached a new home at 1945 Hunt Avenue against Porteus’, sealing up all the windows on one side of her house.

According to local community leaders, it seems like the developer did not violate any laws in building to the property line, leaving Porteus heartbroken, and without sunlight on one side of her home.

Porteus was shocked when the developer sealed her side windows, in an attempt to properly insulate the new home.

“He poured cement and closed off my windows,” said Porteus, standing next to a former window that now faces a wall. “He screwed Styrofoam into my siding to insulate the houses. There used to be a space separating the two properties.” 

Porteus is even more upset that the developer built up against the chimney of her home, which was previously freestanding on the property line.

Porteus went to the Department of Buildings, said his complaint was a civil matter, and if she felt that some sort of injustice was done, she would have to take it to court.

“I didn’t know that they were going to fill up the entire side of my house and my windows,” Porteus stated, “and then cement a wall to the property line.”

Porteus said she does not want to fight in court, and likely wouldn’t have the resources to do so at any rate.

Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta visited the site, and while he expressed his sympathy about Porteus’ plight, there wasn’t much he could do.

“It is unfortunately a civil matter, that would have to be settled in court,” Fratta reiterated with sympathy. “Even a DOB inspector in an official report, which can be viewed online, called it a civil matter. There is nothing else that can be done.” 

The developer declined to comment on the matter.

Porteus misses the sunlight, but also the little distance from her next-door neighbor that once existed, and which she considered essemtoa; to living in the home.

“There was once a space with a fence between my stoop and the adjacent property,” Porteus remembered.  “Now, it’s gone.”


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