BSA denies challenge to mosque’s building permit

Community group argued that Buildings should require mosque to provide off-street parking. In November 2010, Buildings issued a permit to Allowey Ahmed to develop a three-story mosque at 2812 Voorhies Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The mosque would include a 138-person prayer room on the first floor and a 61-person secondary prayer room on the second floor with interior windows overlooking the main prayer room. The plans did not include off-street parking spaces because the mosque qualified for a parking waiver. Only a house of worship’s largest room of assembly is considered when determining required off-street parking, and because the required parking for a 138-person room in an R4 zoning district was below ten spaces, the mosque was allowed to waive all parking.

Bay People Inc., a neighborhood group opposed to the mosque, challenged the building permit. Bay People claimed that because the secondary prayer room could view the main prayer room during services, the rooms should be considered as a single prayer room when calculating parking requirements. Therefore, Buildings should have required the mosque to provide thirteen parking spaces. Bay People argued that separating the main and secondary prayer rooms was a subterfuge to avoid parking requirements, and that the mosque could remove the secondary room’s non-load bearing wall at a later date without public review. According to Bay People, this would set a precedent for other houses of worship to follow to avoid providing off-street parking. 

BSA denied Bay People’s challenge, ruling that Buildings correctly considered the two prayer rooms separately when determining the amount of required parking. The zoning resolution states that two rooms separated by movable partitions should be considered as a single room, but here the two rooms would be separated by a floor and solid wall. BSA pointed out that Bay People had not argued that the rooms would be separated by a movable partition, and noted that Buildings cannot deny a permit based on speculation that the mosque would combine the rooms in the future.

BSA: 2812-2814 Voorhies Avenue, Brookln (98-11-A) (Nov. 22, 2011) (Howard Goldman, for Bay People).

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