The Village of Mastic Beach and its former administrator, Tim Brojer, are facing a housing lawsuit from an African-American homeowner who says he was unfairly blocked from moving into his newly built house.
The civil suit that Douglas Jorif, 71, filed in State Supreme Court in Riverhead on Nov. 20, alleges village officials at first allowed him to build his home, but then barred him from moving into it because mistakes were made in the construction process.
Jorif does not allege discrimination in the lawsuit, but he said in an interview that he believed he was discriminated against because he is black. Earlier this year, eight black tenants and landlords in the village filed a federal lawsuit against Mastic Beach, alleging they were illegally evicted.
Jorif, a retired senior consultant with the New York City Department of Health who lives in Beverly Hills, Florida, said, "Everything was going well when nobody knew I was black."
In an interview, Brojer, who lives in Mastic Beach, said his department mistakenly issued Jorif's building permit on Aug. 19, 2013. He said he didn't know who the homeowner was. "I'm not a racist. I didn't have any clue who was moving into the house," he said.
Mastic Beach Mayor Bill Biondi said in response to Jorif's suit: "If it turns out the village made a mistake, then the village will own up to its responsibilities."
Jorif said he had a modular home built on a plot he's owned in the village for 14 years at Corn Court and Washington Drive. The home was to be for family vacations and for his seven grandchildren, he said. Jorif said he borrowed $165,000 for the project and has spent a total of $250,000 on the home and legal fees.
"I had no indication of any kind that there was any problem with the building of my home," he said.
In court documents, he said he would suffer tremendous hardship if the house has to be torn down. "I would still be obligated to the bank for the building loan. My property would be worthless," he said.
Brojer held several positions in the village, including as administrator and part time senior code enforcer. He was fired from that position last month for what village officials said was misconduct and miscommunication. Village officials have declined to say what the misconduct was, but said he did not communicate well with Biondi.
Ian Milligan, a trustee in Northport, where Brojer has been an administrator since August, defended Brojer.
"That's Mastic Beach, this is Northport. He works under our direct supervision, and he's doing a great job. It does raise an eyebrow, but I'm judging off of what I've experienced. We're satisfied with his performance; he's been a great asset."
Mastic Beach's building department inspected, surveyed and allowed the foundation to be laid, and then issued a permit to build the residence on Aug. 19, 2013, records show.
Brojer said the village code enforcement department, which is also named in the suit, issued the stop-work order in May 2014, saying the home was two feet too close to the neighboring home.
On June 20, Brojer rescinded the order, but the village zoning board of appeals declined to grant a variance, effectively barring Jorif from moving in.
Central Islip attorney Vincent Messina Jr., representing the village zoning board of appeals, said the house needs several variances because it is too close to a neighboring home and the plot needs to be bigger. "A building permit issued in error can always be revoked," he said.
In an Aug. 28 letter to the zoning board, Brojer wrote that "The hardship was created by the Mastic Beach Village [Building] Department."
However, Jorif's attorney, Nesconset-based Richard Scheyer, said no one in village government posed questions about the home until Jorif's family from New Jersey checked up on it.