Board 7 and Avella convince owner to adjust variance

Owner agrees to demolish a portion of a garage in order to build a two-story expansion. The owner of a two-story single-family home with a detached garage at 7-12 126th Street sought a variance from rear yard requirements to facilitate construction of a two-story addition. The 1935 home is located in a portion of College Point that the City rezoned from R3-2 to R2A in 2005. 2 CityLand 135 (Oct. 15, 2005).

The owner claimed that a rear yard waiver is required to develop the site because as-of-right development was infeasible due to the lot’s irregular shape and shallow depth— the shallowest among all lots within a 200-foot radius. The owner also argued that the waiver would create a shallower rear yard, which would be compliant under the zoning that existed prior to 2005. In addition to the rear yard waiver, the owner sought a lot coverage waiver that would allow full development of the site.

Queens Community Board 7 recommended disapproval of the application, citing concerns over neighborhood character, while expressing skepticism that the application represented the least intrusive variance. City Council Member Tony Avella, who represents constituents in the area, questioned the applicant’s floor area calculations, which did not include the garage space.

In response to concerns over lot coverage, the owner agreed to reduce the size of the existing detached garage. The owner then amended its application to no longer request a waiver from lot coverage requirements, relying on a determination from the Department of Buildings that does not require floor area calculations to include garage space if the garage is less than 300 sq.ft. in area.

BSA granted the variance, finding that the lot’s narrow width, not the owner’s actions, created the hardship. Complying with all zoning requirements, according to BSA, would not lead to a habitable home. BSA also noted the owner’s willingness to address Board 7’s and Avella’s concerns regarding lot coverage. BSA did not, however, find relevant the owner’s argument regarding prior zoning.

BSA: 7-12 126th St., Queens (48-07-BZ) (Jan. 8, 2008) (Alfonso Duarte, for applicant).

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