BSA Approves Variance for New Residential Apartment Building in Brooklyn

Marvin Mitzner argues before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

Marvin Mitzner argues before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

The Board found the subject site, polluted by past automotive use, carried unique hardship.  On March 31, 2015 the Board of Standards and Appeals voted to grant Moshe Packman a variance to facilitate construction of a four-story residential building in Marine Park, Brooklyn.  The proposed building is located at 2881 Nostrand Avenue and will contain nineteen dwelling units covering 21,827 square feet.

On August 14, 2013 the Department of Buildings denied the applicant’s request for a building permit because the proposed floor area exceeded the maximum permitted for building, the initially-proposed twenty-six dwelling units exceeded the maximum permitted for the zoning lot, the proposed building exceeded the maximum aggregate street width of one hundred and twenty-five feet, did not have a required front or side yard, and exceeded the maximum permitted height.  On August 30, 2013 the applicant requested a variance to permit the building as proposed.  Brooklyn Community Board 18 recommended disapproval of the variance.

A public hearing was held by the Board on February 11, 2014, with continued hearings on June 10, July 15, September 23, November 18, and December 16.  Marvin Mintzner, counsel for the applicant, argued the development site was used as an automotive repair facility and car wash for sixty-five years.  Because of this extensive prior use, the ground was polluted with hazardous and toxic materials that the applicant must excavate before construction, whether as-of-right or under the proposed scenario.  Mr. Mintzner provided studies demonstrating the applicant would lose money if he constructed as-of-right, given the high cost of rehabilitating the construction site, and only the proposed four-story building would yield a positive return.  The Board raised concerns about the proposed lack of parking, and the applicant responded to modify the proposal by reducing the propose building’s lot coverage to provide parking space.

On March 31, the Board voted 4-0 to approve the variance.  In their report, the Board agreed the hardship of the site was not caused by the applicant or a predecessor in title, but years of industrial use as an auto repair and car wash.  The Board agreed with the applicant that, as modified, the proposal was the minimum necessary to offset the hardship caused by the unique site, and would neither alter the character nor be a detriment to the surrounding neighborhood.

BSA: 2881 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn (254-13-BZ) (Mar. 31, 2015) (Law Office of Marvin B. Mitzner, for Moshe Packman, owner).

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

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