BSA sustains permits on Queens waterfront site

Buildings granted permits for developer’s personal home on Little Neck Bay waterfront. On January 20, 2006, Buildings issued a certificate of occupancy to developer Carl Mattone, the President of Mattone Group LLC, for his personal home, a two-story, 5,369-square-foot house at 37-19 Regatta Place in Douglaston, Queens. The seven-sided, 11,801-square-foot lot lies within a residential district (R1-2) along the south side of Little Neck Bay’s waterfront. The lot is partially underwater with 10,756 sq.ft. of developable upland property, as measured from the shoreline.

During the home’s construction, Gordhandas Soni, owner of the adjoining lot, protested the issuance of a construction permit. She disputed the amount of upland property, the size of which determines floor area and lot coverage limits. Buildings issued a stop-work order, corrected the calculations and allowed construction to continue, issuing a final determination in 2005 and a C of O in 2006.

Soni, represented by Stuart A. Klein, challenged Buildings’ calculation of upland property. According to Soni, the shoreline was an incorrect reference point for measuring the upland property boundary. She argued that under the zoning code, a wall built on Mattone’s lot, not the shoreline, was the proper reference point because the wall was a bulkhead built to prevent erosion. Measuring from the wall, the amount of developable upland property was only 9,020 sq.ft., making the home’s floor area and lot coverage noncompliant. Additionally, Soni claimed that the rear yard, opposite the waterfront yard, failed to comply with a 1982 Buildings memo since it was less than 20-feet long. Finally, Soni argued that the home’s waterfront yard, chimneys and side yards were noncompliant. Neighborhood residents and State Senator Frank Padavan provided testimony in favor of Soni.

Buildings attorney Angelina Martinez-Rubio appeared at the hearing, arguing that the shoreline was the appropriate reference point. The house complied with zoning because the wall was a retaining wall, not a bulkhead. In response to Soni’s rear yard argument, Buildings argued that due to the lot’s irregular shape, the yard was a side yard under the code, not a rear yard. Buildings alternatively argued that, even if it were considered a rear yard, the rear yard requirements did not apply to waterfront zoning lots. Buildings also argued that Soni’s claims of noncompliant chimneys, side yards and waterfront yard were without merit.

After reviewing five land surveys, BSA agreed with Buildings and Mattone, determining that the shoreline was the proper reference point since no surveys or records characterized the wall as a bulkhead and because there was no evidence that the wall was built to prevent erosion. BSA also determined that the home’s rear yard, side yards, waterfront yard and chimneys were compliant.

BSA: 37-19 Regatta Place (12-06-A) (Sept. 12, 2006) (Stuart A. Klein, for Soni; Angelina Martinez-Rubio, for Buildings). CITYADMIN

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