Architect suspended from self-certification program

Architect’s self-certified plans omitted mapped street and did not disclose need for BSA approvals. Between September 2008 and April 2009 architect Jose A. Velasquez self-certified applications to convert two buildings into three-family homes and to build two new three-family homes on a zoning lot at the corner of 103rd Street and Alstyne Avenue in Corona, Queens. The lot was occupied by four unfinished buildings partially within the bed of an unused mapped street.

Buildings audited the plans and determined that they violated zoning regulations. Among the objections, Buildings claimed that the plans did not satisfy rear-yard requirements and increased existing non-compliance. The plans did not indicate that a mapped street went through the lot. Buildings also claimed that the plans violated the multiple dwelling law by including a water closet in the cellar of three buildings and contained error regarding fire-safety requirements. Buildings petitioned to have Velasquez barred from the self-certification program for submitting multiple incorrect self-certified applications within a year.

At a hearing, Velasquez stated that many of the project’s problems stemmed from the unused mapped street and that he was aware of the errors when he submitted the applications. According to Velasquez, he intended to apply to BSA for permission to build in the bed of the mapped street after he received the objections. Velasquez argued the water closets were lawful because they were supplementary to the first floor units and blamed the fire-safety issues on his secretary’s failure to file the applications under the less stringent 1968 building code.

OATH ALJ Kevin F. Casey recommended that Velasquez be suspended from participation in the self-certification program for two years. ALJ Casey noted that in addition to failing to inform Buildings about the mapped street, Velasquez also failed to notify Buildings that the project required BSA approval. According to the ALJ, these omissions along with the other errors demonstrated a failure to exercise a professional standard of care and reflected a lack of understanding of the law.

DOB v. Velasquez, OATH Index No. 1557/10 (Nov. 24, 2010).

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