Developer withdraws variance requests after rezoning

Developer sought variance to build additional 2-family home in flood zone. The developer of three lots located on 130th Street in College Point, Queens, applied to BSA for a variance to construct three, two-family homes on property formerly occupied by the Ariel Rowing and Tennis Club. The developer’s applications represented that a hardship existed due to the lots’ location within a flood zone, which would require that the buildings be constructed on piles and without cellars.

On June 14, 2004, Community Board 7 unanimously disapproved, arguing that a reasonable rate of return could be obtained with an as-of-right use, and the proposed variance would alter the neighborhood character. Borough President Helen Marshall also disapproved, stating that the proposal required three curb cuts, which created a potentially dangerous traffic condition. Marshall recommended that the developer construct two, two-family homes.

The developer reduced the project to two, three-family homes, and restated its hardship argument, adding that BSA did not usually require a financial analysis for a residential variance application. In addition, the developer asked BSA to deny the community board’s request to postpone BSA’s public hearing until after the September 12, 2005 meeting of the full community board.

Council Member Tony Avella, by letter to BSA, stated that he had tried to negotiate with the developers to reach an agreement that would allow the public to have access to the waterfront by using part of the property. Avella claimed that the developer no longer appeared to be interested in negotiating with the community. Avella also stated that the developer was aware of the site’s characteristics when it purchased the property and therefore created the hardship about which it now complained.

On September 28, 2005, the City Council rezoned College Point. 2 CityLand 135 (Oct. 15, 2005). The lots’ zoning was changed from R3-2 to R3-1, permitting only detached or semidetached, one or two-family homes. The developer subsequently withdrew the applications prior to the November 1, 2005 BSA hearing.

BSA: 7-05, 7-09, 7-13 130th Street (175- 04-BZ – 177-04-BZ) (Joseph P. Morsellino, for applicant). CITYADMIN

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