BSA approves large home in natural area district

Undersized Staten Island lot can be developed if trees replanted. Owners of an undersized, 9,733 sq.ft. Staten Island lot at 380 Lighthouse Avenue sought to construct a single-family home that required variance approvals because of the small lot size and because the proposed home failed to meet rear or side-yard requirements.

The lot fell within the Special Natural Area District, a 1974 zoning control passed by the City to protect existing topography, trees, plantings and integral sloping, triggering a separate review. Under the zoning resolution, the Planning Commission normally has jurisdiction over the requirements to protect a lot’s natural features, but with 380 Lighthouse Avenue, only BSA could grant approval because the lot was less than 12,500 sq.ft. and the Planning Commission lacked jurisdiction to vary lot size.

The applicants argued that with the narrow size and extremely steep slope – the lot has a 46 ft. change in grade – a home that complied with the yard requirement would be uninhabitable because it would be only 15 ft. wide. The applicants submitted Sanborn maps to prove that homes in the area were similarly sized and committed to plant 12 new trees to replace the trees lost due to the development. At the BSA hearing, Council Member James Oddo and the Lighthouse Hill Civic Association opposed the development.

BSA approved the development, finding that the proposal met the variance and the natural area district requirements but required that the owners plant 12 trees on the site prior to receipt of the certificate of occupancy. BSA prohibited the use of the cellar for sleeping accommodations and required that restrictive language be added to the certificate of occupancy.

BSA: 380 Lighthouse Avenue (311-04- BZ) (February 8, 2005) (Rothkrug Rothkrug Weinberg & Spector). CITYADMIN

CITYLAND Comment: The City Council passed an amendment to the Special Natural Area District text on February 2, 2005 to strengthen its controls and eliminate a problematic grandfather provision. For the full article, see 2 CityLand 3 (February 15, 2005). The application for 380 Lighthouse Avenue was filed prior to the amendment.


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