Building permit reinstated

Tenant’s reliance on past front yard requirements tops Buildings’ new policy. Thomas E. Carroll applied to Buildings for demolition and construction permits to build a single-family home on his designated plot at 607 Bayside Drive in Breezy Point, Queens, a 403-acre private community owned by Breezy Point Cooperative. Carroll leased his plot from the Cooperative in 1960, the same year the Cooperative incorporated. Carroll’s plot, like other individual plots in the Cooperative, had been historically treated as a separate zoning lot by Buildings.

Buildings’ practice in Breezy Point was to measure a zoning lot’s front yard footage starting at the center line of an adjacent service road. Carroll’s front lot line was located on the center line of a service road adjacent to the plot. Though the service road was unmapped, it was open, used by residents and emergency vehicles, and accepted by Buildings as a functioning street.

Applying this practice, Buildings granted both permits, but later revoked the construction permit because the proposed design did not provide for a 10-foot deep front yard starting from the service road’s street line. Buildings had changed its interpretation of R4 front yard setback requirements as they applied to the Cooperative, and now ruled that when a street was open and in use within a zoning lot, the line separating the open service road from the rest of the zoning lot (“the street line”) was the correct line to begin measuring the plot’s front yard footage.

Carroll appealed the permit revocation to BSA, claiming that the proposed home met the front yard setback requirements since the distance between his home and the center line of the service road exceeded 10 feet. Carroll cited to recent decisions from the Queens Borough Commissioner which noted that, within the Cooperative, Buildings had recognized the center line of the adjacent service road as the proper starting point for measuring the front yard.

Buildings conceded that it had previously accepted the center line of the service road as the line from which to measure the front yard, but stated that it had changed its policy. It now believed that starting the front yard measurement at the line that separated the open service road from the developable land on the zoning lot was appropriate since the street was open and in use.

BSA agreed with Buildings that the proper measurement of the front yard began at the street line and not at the center line of the service road, but granted Carroll’s request to have the building permit reinstated given Carroll’s substantial and reasonable reliance on Buildings’ previous longstanding interpretation of front yard setback requirements as applied to the Cooperative.

BSA: 607 Bayside Drive (140-07-A) (Jan. 13, 2009). CITYADMIN

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