BSA Approves Restaurant Expansion Into Residential Area in Astoria

Frank St. Jacques testifies before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

Frank St. Jacques testifies before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

Approval corrects an erroneously-granted permit in 2011.  On May 19, 2015 the Board of Standards and Appeals voted to grant a special permit to the applicant, 22-32 31st Street LLC, for expanding an existing Use Group 6 restaurant at 22-32 31st Street in Astoria, Queens, into an adjacent residential zoning district..  The restaurant sits on a lot that is partially zoned as C2-4A with the remainder zoned as R5B.  The permit is needed to allow outdoor accessory dining in the R5B portion.

On February 15, 2011 the applicant received a BSA permit to extend commercial use twenty-five feet into the residential area for a period of three years.  At the time of the 2011 permit application, the commercial area of the lot extended 150 feet from 31st Street.  However, the 2011 permit was granted in error, as the Astoria Rezoning of 2010 had shrunk the existing commercial area of the lot to 125 feet from 31st Street.  On November 6, 2014 the applicant filed for a permit to extend commercial use forty-seven and a half feet into the current residential area of the lot.

A public hearing was held on March 3, 2015 with a continued hearing on April 14.  At the hearing, Queens Community Board 1 recommended approval of the permit on condition the permit was limited to a term of five years, that outdoor use not exceed eighteen tables and seventy-four seats, that the applicant not use the outdoor space in winter, and that noise attenuation is provided for.  Frank St. Jacques for the applicant testified several buffering measures were to be installed around the outdoor space to protect neighboring residential areas, including a solid seven-foot-high fence with sound attenuation construction, limited hours of usage, lighting directed away from residential areas, and bans on smoking, outdoor music, and winter usage.

On May 19, 2015 the Board voted 4-0 to approve the permit for a period of five years from the date of approval.  In its final report, the Board noted any hazard or disadvantage to the community at large from the expansion was outweighed by the advantages the community would derive.  The Board also found the expansion would not alter the essential character of the surrounding neighborhood, impair the use or development of adjacent properties, or be detrimental to the public welfare.

BSA:  22-32/36 31st Street (289-14-BZ) (May 19, 2015) (Sheldon Lobel, P.C., for 22-32 31st Street LLC, owner.)

By:  Michael Twomey (Michael is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2014).

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