IS WELL-KNOWN developer Ori Feibush trying to silence a Point Breeze resident who opposes one of his latest projects?
Feibush wants to build four single-family homes on 20th Street near Annin, including one for himself. Resident Haley Dervinis has planned to express her objection today at a Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing, but she was in tears yesterday over what she said was a "threatening" letter she received from Feibush's attorney, Wally Zimolong.
The letter called for Dervinis to "immediately cease and desist from all wrongful conduct concerning the project," and threatened to sue her for "libel, slander, tortuous interference with contractual relations, tortuous interference with prospective economic advantage and civil conspiracy" for allegedly making written and verbal false statements about Feibush.
"I'm allowed to express my opinion and so are my neighbors," said Dervinis, 31, who has lived on Annin Street since 2006. "To be threatened because we have different feelings is a tough pill to swallow."
Dervinis said she has been acting as the voice of a group of roughly 25 residents who oppose the project because they say it will create congestion, limit parking, possibly cause property taxes to rise and change the look of the block. She said that days after speaking out against the project at community and zoning meetings, her employer notified her that Feibush's attorney had called to discuss the matter.
"He's trying to intimidate me," Dervinis said.
Feibush denied that his attorney called Dervinis' boss or that she was being threatened. Feibush says he's looking to build on a block that has been neglected for decades, and Dervinis, while entitled to her opinion, has made "defamatory" comments that were "hurtful and caused myself and my office a lot of harm."
He contends she has a personal grudge against him and has been "spreading falsehoods" in emails to neighbors and making defamatory comments on Facebook.
The letter, which was obtained by the Daily News, points to comments Dervinis posted on two blogs. In one on NakedPhilly.com, which is owned by Feibush's OCF Realty, she wrote that Feibush has "been painted as a cut throat, shady, crass, money driven developer."
The letter warns Dervinis that she will be under oath at today's ZBA hearing "and any false statement that you make after being placed under oath will have severe consequences. This letter is your one and only warning before we file suit against you."
South Philadelphia Homes Inc., the area's registered community organization, sent the ZBA a letter of nonsupport for the project, according to Councilman Kenyatta Johnson's office.
Dervinis said that although she is concerned, she's not backing down and will be joined by some of her neighbors.
"I can't let this stop me," Dervinis said. "I can't let this stop us."
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