Further backstory. My parents have owned this house for over ten years. In that time there has never been anything next door but an empty lot. Often, for a number of years, THEY were the ones who took care of that land, mowing and trimming trees and such. When the lot went up for sale they expressed interest in buying but the guy selling was asking a very, VERY steep price.
The empty lot remained.
The rest is a little grey. My impression is that the owner wanted to build (no doubt an atrocious condo or something as is the general trend here) but couldn’t get the city to allow him (issue permits, pass building codes, whatever, I don’t know). He then tried to sell but asked an enormously high price so as to sue the city for something (devaluation of land???) because they were getting in the way of his master plan. Apparently it worked.
The sign for a Rockaway Beach building company went up probably almost two months ago now. It took a few weeks for us to drop by their office and see what was up. We were familiar with the couple that owns the business on a professional level. The husband told us he was building a duplex there and that the permits should be through the city in a couple weeks. As previously mentioned, I almost cried.
And for so many reasons! My first thoughts were the construction process. Above you can see our house, the property line (staked out and marked with string), the tree on "their" property and the branches trimmed in October on ours, but you can’t see the window of Ali’s bedroom, hidden by the tree. Not to mention OUR bedroom directly below her’s. Us, I’m not worried about. We’re rarely asleep between the hours of 8am and 8pm. Which, the contractor informed us, was the city ordinance on when construction can happen. But Ali is. Daily. Twice. At least!
Also, a DUPLEX?!?! Ugh. How revolting. How HUGE (God knows the lot isn’t). And everything that entails (neighbors? renters? weekenders? partiers? TIMES TWO!). Best case scenario is a duplex that sits empty until the economy picks up (or longer) like so many other recently completed eyesores around here. And what about the aesthetics of our house? The feeling of openness? The property value?!?!?! What about the fact that, had we not been living here, there is a good chance my family would have shown up to find construction going on mere feet from their house while they were none the wiser. Seriously.
The contractor promised he’d "keep us in mind." And I quote. Whatever that means. I hoped maybe it meant some warning, some discussions, you know, some common courtesy. Then I may have found it hard to be mad. I know the contractors are just doing their job. I know they are only the messenger. But I don’t know who for. All I can go by is the sign still standing next door. Anyway, thus far I see no sign of our being kept in mind. Yesterday morning I awoke from a state of almost sleep when I realized the incessant beeping was NOT the garbage man and could very well be the beginning of…well, not the end, but something that kind of feels like it has a resemblance. Sure enough there was a tractor outside. I bolted to see what time it was.
I stood in the window and watched. Crossed my arms. Glared. No acknowledgment. When Tony woke up he went outside to take some pictures. Again, for so many reasons. Acknowledgment for sure. Intimidation? Maybe. Definitely documentation. And a feeling of control, a sense of power. What else can we do?* This next part is hearsay, as I was not there. According to Tony, the guy immediately came over and asked him,
"Are we going to have a problem here?"
Tony answered something about how he was just taking pictures, to make sure everything was "above board." After which Mr. Contractor (as he will henceforth be referred to as) made it clear his permission was not given to appear in any of the pictures. Which I’m not sure is even necessary unless they are being sold or something but, you know, I’m feeling charitable. Keeping him in mind, I’ve altered the above photo. Mr. Contractor also went on to tell Tony that he was on the Rockaway Beach Planning Commission (feel free to visit link for past meeting minutes and such). Um, and that is supposed to make anyone feel better?!?! Riiiiiight. Also, he told Tony that he better stop taking pictures (or something in that regard) because that was harassment and he…
"Knew the law."
Whatever. I’m getting tired. And fired up all over again. Which is just not a pleasant combination. Yesterday everyone left by about ten. Today they were back between nine and ten for an hour or more (talking in very loud, male voices VERY close to our house while Ali was napping which prompted me to open the side door, interrupt my laundering, and have a arms-crossed glare). All day long people stopped by marking the utility locations. It looks like kids went crazy with sidewalk chalk. Except very unsure children, as there are a worrying amount of question marks in florescent colors (i.e. DEPTH???). Sure hope our water or phone doesn’t get screwed up.
So this is the scene. All those trees will be gone shortly. And who knows what else is going to happen. Of course we won’t know anything until it’s been done but you can bet you’ll hear about it. *Because this is all we can do. Document, in a very public fashion how all this transgresses. And if someone types Rockaway Beach Contractors into Google and come across our blog (try it), well I sure hope they like what they find.