Monster house blocks neighbors' sunlight
Posted at: 09/24/2012 9:50 PM
| Updated at: 09/25/2012 8:08 AM
By: Gadi Schwartz and Peter St. Cyr, 4 On Your Side
Johnny Robinson has spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars building his dream home near Del Norte High School. But construction came to a halt after the city red-tagged it.
Robinson had been adding a second story and building a third garage, but not long after Robinson began construction, his neighbors cried foul. They claim Robinson’s plans violate city building codes, and contend the 5,400 foot home both blocks the sun and invades their privacy.
After neighbors complained to the city they learned Robinson's designs had the stamp of approval -- from the City of Albuquerque.
Robinson said construction should not have come as a surprise to anyone -- especially after showing his blueprints to neighbors. He claims no one protested the project before it started.
“I talked to all my neighbors in this neighborhood before I even got started,” Robinson told KOB's 4 On Your Side Team.
But after seeing the second story rise and garage creep closer and closer to their own property lines, many neighbors have changed their minds.
‘It's over the top,” Bob Garger told 4OYS. “It's obtuse. It's just too much for our neighborhood.”
With 50-percent of Garger’s solar access now blocked, he and his wife, Kitty McKeown, have decided to move out of their own dream home.
“I love this place, but not enough to live like this,” Garger said. “I built my yard for me. My hot tub, my infrared sauna, my lawn, all that's for me, but now it's ours, because he has literally taken it from me for no reason.”
Irene Magallanez said it’s even worse on her side of the house.
“We've lost sun,” she said. “The height of the building is blocking the sun.”
Robinson’s new garage is built just 22 inches from Magallanez’s block wall.
She said the shade it cast onto her yard ended up killing her grape vines. She also thinks the narrow gap between her wall and the garage could become a fire hazard.
Robinson denies his corner house is blocking anyone’s view. The heating and air condition contractor, who moved here with his son from Georgia, said he did everything by the book.
Along with other neighbors, Magallanez and her husband filed complaints with the City. A hearing office rejected Robinson's request for another variance and he appealed.
The City has admitted it made an error approving Robinson’s renovation plans.
“Clearly, we wouldn’t be here today talking about this if that permit was issued appropriately,” Deputy Chief City Administrator John Soladay said.
Now, neighbors fear their property values will decrease if the building is allowed to be finished. They want it torn down.
For now, Robinson said he has no plans to tear down what he’s spent over $150,000 building.
“I built this house myself, okay,” Robinson said. “The city approved it.”
The entire case is headed to court.