Heights couple locked in fight with developer over land neighboring their home


For close to 40 years, Petra and Soltero Reyes have called 730 Lawrence Street home.

"All of their life, wasted their money to buy a house for a better life for us," said homeowner Diana Reyes.

Diana says she grew up in that home. She contacted Eyewitness News after the man developing the property right next door tore down their fence and said he wanted to rip out their air conditioning unit and water heater to relocate it elsewhere on their property.

Reyes said, "He even told us, 'I have more money than you do. You can take me to court, I will always win.'"

Reyes admits part of her home, the house her parents live in, sits on the property now owned by developer Joe Petruzzi.

"It's not just the fence line, but the house itself is eight feet on my property," Petruzzi said.

Petruzzi showed us the plat. He says the house is on his side of the property line. He claims all the properties on Lawrence Street were built incorrectly. He spent at least the last six months trying to reach some agreement with the Reyes family and claims he offered to even to build them a new house that is actually on their property. He says he offered to move the AC and water heater at his expense. All this he claims they refused.

"I'm within my right to do what I'm doing. I really could cut their house in half if I wanted to and then they could sue me for that, but I would never do that," said Petruzzi.

But our legal analyst disagrees.

"A developer can't come in and rewrite everything basically the way he thinks it should be written," said KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy. "A court's not gonna make you move your house if you've been living on the property or living in a location adversely to the correct ownership of the property."

The Reyes' say they would take the developer to court if they could afford it but they can't.

Petruzzi admits he wants the Reyes family to take him to court.

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