BSA allows three-story synagogue in Midwood. Merkaz, a nonprofit religious institution, sought a variance from yard, FAR, lot coverage, height and setback zoning regulations in order to construct a three-story synagogue with an accessory pre-school at 1739 Ocean Avenue in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn. The synagogue would serve a 20- family congregation, while the school would offer religious education for children and adults.
Citing concerns over the impact the development would have on neighborhood character, Brooklyn Community Board 14 recommended disapproval of Merkaz’s application. For the same reasons, several members of the community testified against the proposal at the public hearings, which were held last year.
Merkaz argued that the variances would yield a building consistent with the surrounding neighborhood, and provided photographic evidence of nearby buildings comparable in size to its proposed development. Moreover, Merkaz claimed that complying with zoning restrictions would yield a building that is too narrow to accommodate worshippers, and that its congregation currently has no formal place of worship.
BSA granted the variance, noting that as a religious and educational institution, Merkaz is entitled to significant deference under the law when considering zoning issues. BSA further noted that a finding of economic hardship is unnecessary because of Merkaz’s religious and non-profit mission. Finally, BSA found that the variance represented the minimum departure from the zoning restrictions that allowed Merkaz to fulfill its programmatic needs without unduly impacting neighborhood character.
BSA: 1739 Ocean Ave., Brooklyn (315-06-BZ) (Jan. 15, 2008) (Eric Palatnik, for Merkaz). CITYADMIN