The variance permits the construction of a new floor to accommodate the School’s programmatic needs. On March 22, 2016, the Board of Standards and Appeals conditionally approved a variance to construct an additional floor onto the Bais Yaakov D’ Chasidei Gur religious school, located at 1975 51st Street in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. The four-story building will be expanded into a five-story building to accommodate the School’s existing students and anticipated increase in enrollment.
The Bais Yaakov D’ Chasidei Gur School is a not-for-profit, religious school, which serves the slightly-less-than 700 students enrolled its pre-school, elementary, middle, and high school. The School anticipates its student population to grow considerably within the next five years and sought a zoning variance in order to expand the building’s capacity beyond the maximum floor area permitted under the zoning law.
The Board of Standards and Appeals held a public hearing on the School’s application on June 23, 2015, with continued hearings on January 22, 2016, and February 2, 2016. At the June 23rd hearing, Moshe M. Friedman testified on behalf of the School. Friedman stated that the purpose for constructing an additional floor onto the building is less about accommodating a larger student body and more about accommodating the existing student body. He testified that the School’s classrooms are overcrowded, and due to the building’s odd shape, the only way to increase the student capacity is to build an additional floor onto the top of the building.
On March 22, 2016, the Board voted unanimously to conditionally approve the variance request. Due to the School’s anticipated increase in enrollment, the Board mandated the School to “coordinate bus loading with available curbside space,” and to hire traffic monitors to ensure “No Standing” zones remain clear of obstruction and moving lanes are strictly enforced. The Board cited Cornell v. Bagnardi, 68 NY2d 583 (1986), to support its finding that as an educational institution, the School’s application should be granted unless it would adversely affect the “health, safety, and welfare of the community” and local neighborhood. After conducting a neighborhood study, the Board found this to not be the case and granted the variance.
BSA: 1975 51st Street (101-14-BZ) (March 22, 2016) (Moshe M. Friedman PE, for Bais Yaakov D. Chassidei Gur, owner).
By: Jessica Soultanian-Braunstein (Jessica is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2015)