BSA denies variance for retail development

Developer sought to convert site formerly occupied by a gas station. The owner of a site located in an R3-2 zoning district sought a use variance to construct a one-story retail building. The site, located at 146-93 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, is currently occupied by a former gas station/auto repair facility that was subject to a use variance that expired in 1997.

The owner argued that it could not develop the site for residential use because it is located on a busy intersection, has a history of commercial use, and once stored underground fuel tanks. Both Queens Community Board 13 and Borough President Helen Marshal, however, recommended that BSA disapprove the variance, citing their concerns over the impact the proposed retail establishment would have on adjacent homes to the east of the site.

BSA agreed and ruled against the owner. It noted that the owner did not supply evidence that the intersection at 147th Avenue and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard is significantly more congested with traffic than others in the area. Moreover, even if the owner did provide such evidence, BSA ruled that traffic, in and of itself, does not constitute a unique physical condition. BSA also rejected the owner’s argument regarding the site’s history, noting that a site’s prior use does not necessitate a variance unless an owner could supply proof that such past use created physical impediments at the site. Lastly, BSA noted that the underground fuel tanks no longer existed at the site, and that the owner did not provide any proof of impending remediation costs from the tanks formerly located at the site.

BSA: 146-93 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, Queens (65-07-BZ) (Feb. 5, 2008) (Sheldon Lobel PC, for owner).

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