Jack’s greed didn’t entirely disappear in the suburban setting, however. When the money really started to roll in, the Abramoffs relocated to a residence more appropriate for hosting influential players on the Hill. Looking to make an extra buck, Jack divided his property into two lots for sale: one containing his charming brick home, and another ideally suited for, well, nothing. At a width of roughly 22 yards, just over the 20 required for a residential building permit, the lot is just a few feet from the side of Abramoff’s old house, with little room to spare. Reached by phone, a Maryland zoning official explained that the lot might be suitable for a home, but only if the residence were built perpendicular to the road. (Architectural additions of this sort, said a member of the community’s civic association, are generally “not appreciated.”) Records show that the only building permit approved for the lot since it was sold off in 1999 has been for a chain-link fence, an “eyesore,” complains one neighbor, that meshes imperfectly with the stone or wood variety generally favored in the area. The lot’s present owner, who bought it from Jack for $135,000, said she had “no interest” in talking to The Washington Monthly. Perhaps, like the Coushatta tribe, she’s less than thrilled about having paid something for nothing.
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