City Island development seeks height waiver

Residents concerned that waiving height requirement would set bad precedent. On August 5, 2009, the City Planning Commission heard testimony on City Island Estates’ proposal to build a residential development at 226 Fordham Place on City Island. The 43-unit project, abutting the eastern shore of Long Island Sound, would be built on a 279,154 sq.ft. site and include 21 two-family detached homes and one single- family detached home. The plan called for building 17 of the 21 two-family homes up to 41.5 feet in height, while the remaining homes would be built to 35 feet.

To facilitate the project, the developer applied for waivers for the height and setback requirements of the Special City Island District. This included modifying the 35-foot height limit for new developments and enlargements. The developer also proposed rezoning the lot from M1-1 to R3A.

At the Commission’s public hearing, attorney Melanie Meyers spoke on behalf of the developer. Meyers pointed out that 17 of the two-family homes would be built on land sloping down towards Long Island Sound and within the floodplain. She said the developer could not provide ground floor living space in these homes due to concerns about flooding. She also said the height waiver would enable the developer to instead provide living space on the second and third floors of the homes in the floodplain and use the ground floor for garage space.

The project’s architect testified that because of the area’s sloping topography, sight lines in the neighborhood would not be affected by the taller homes. He claimed that when standing at Fordham Place and looking south towards the water, the taller homes at the back of the development would appear to be the same height as the 35-foot homes in the front. The architect also said that without the height waiver, the homes would lose important bedroom space on the third floor.

Residents speaking in opposition included Kenneth Kearns, the District Manager of Bronx Community Board 10, who expressed concerns about the proposed height waiver. Kearns acknowledged that the waiver would only apply to the project but said the proposed height would violate City Island’s character and set a bad precedent for future projects in the area.

The Commission is expected to vote on the proposal on September 9, 2009.

CPC: Hearing for On the Sound on City Island (C 060288 ZMX – rezoning); (C 060289 ZMX – spec. perm.) (Aug. 5, 2009).

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