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City Lays Down Law To Some Residents: Lose The Stoop

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Imagine spending a fortune to beautify your front yard, only to find out it doesn't belong to you. It belongs to New York City.

That's what's happening in one Brooklyn neighborhood. Residents may be forced to tear down their fences and staircases.

As CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez reports, the city is saying "move it, or lose it."

Veronica Deignan's family has lived in her Monitor Street home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn since 1945.

But the city just informed her that part of her front yard belongs to someone else.

When asked if the city had ever approach her family in the previous 66 years to say it owned the property, Deignan said, "No, this was our property."

The City Department of Design and Construction sent the Deignan's and all their neighbors on Monitor Street letters to inform them their ages-old wrought iron fences and front stoops are on city-owned property.

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Residents must remove them or the city will -- all to make way for sewage and aesthetic improvements. The neighborhood is outraged.

"Why do they want to dig it up again? We have new sewers, catch basins, you name it under this ground already," Deignan said.

"I was really angry. I called the property manager but he wasn't really too forthcoming about anything," neighbor Arlene Reischer added.

Basically the city wants to extend the sidewalk an extra five feet, which would mean one property owner Sanchez met on Wednesday night would have to get rid of an entire staircase landing.

Dozens of residents confronted DDC officials at a meeting Wednesday night.

"The claim of the DDC is that we're encroaching. However, these fence lines have been in place since the homes were built in 1900, 1910, long before the DOT existed," Ricky Carias said.

"You're taking five more feet that give 15 feet. Nassau Avenue, Manhattan Avenue don't even have 15-feet sidewalks. Are we having a parade that we don't know about?" Bob Knapp said.

The DDC said not all residents will be forced to remove their stoops or fences, but as of now, despite the strenuous complaints, the project is a go for the spring.

The Department of Transportation is spearheading the project on Monitor Street, but it did not attend the meeting. Another meeting is being planned so the DOT can address residents' concerns.

Think the people of Greenpoint are getting the short end of the stick on this one? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below?

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