Thisclose zoning squeeze

Giovanni Osso’s elderly mother has seen her quality of life diminish because of zero-lot-line building, but he doesn’t blame the builder who constructed a new apartment house less than a foot from his home.

He does however take issue with the expected value dropping on the home she’s lived in for the 50 years, and is now pretty much walled off on one side by the neighboring development on Edison Avenue in Pelham Bay.

The builder is just taking advantage of what the area’s R-7 zoning allows, he said, building right to (or almost to) the property line, even if windows and ventilation systems on one side of his house are now sitting eight to nine inches from the 12-unit apartment building next door.

“My issue with this is it is not the first time this has happened in the Bronx,” said Osso. “It has happened before on Bruckner Blvd., and I heard it is happening again in Morris Park.”

He blames “politicians” who did not act to change zoning rules when it became apparent zero-lot-line building was causing problems for east Bronx homeowners.

Osso hired his own architect to look at the plans for 1816 Edison Ave., and was told that they were up to code. He also noted that the city Department of Buildings raised some initial objections to the plan.

DOB spokeswoman Kelly Magee said that it was not uncommon for objections to be raised internally in the department during application review process for a new building. Those raised for the project, she noted, were minor.

Osso said he is upset because his mother Ida, 86, has spent the better part of her life in the house in 1820 Edison Ave., and now will have to deal with facing a wall through her windows.

“I am unhappy because my mother is unhappy,” he said. “The house has been changed from the way it has been for the past 50 years. I believe in progress, but I would like to see it happen in a way where people are not affected this way.’

He also said that developer Paul Durgaj had told him that his building was to be six inches from the property line, and that he would leave another six inches on his own side, making a foot of space between the two buildings. But, he says, only two inches were left on the builder’s side.

Durgaj said he initially thought he could leave more space between the two buildings, but had to leave less when his surveyor determined that there was less space on Osso’s property than he originally understood.

“I was willing to leave my side with six inches, but I thought he had six inches on his side,” said Durgaj, adding that his architect told him that if he left any more than a few inches from the property line, he would not get a certificate of occupancy for the building.

“I know he is not happy,” the builder said of Osso, adding that he had tried, and that he was not aware of the problems when he purchased the lots next door.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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