Developer proposed unique design to exploit loophole in zoning text. Fred Corono applied for a building permit to add a second building in the rear of his oversized 6,938- square-foot lot in Staten Island. The Department of Buildings denied the application, believing that Corono specifically designed the new building to evade the requirements of the City’s Lower Density Growth Management zoning restrictions. The controls, enacted in 2004, set strict size and yard limits on proposals to build two buildings on one lot. The text in the zoning resolution, however, only covers projects where the rear building’s footprint is more than 50 feet from the street.
With Corono’s building, the bulk of his proposed two-story, two-family building sat beyond 50 feet from the street, but the building included a narrow one-story structure that extended eight feet from the rear of the building to a point past the 50-foot line.
Corono appealed Building’s denial to BSA, arguing that the text clearly did not apply to his building. Buildings countered that Corono’s design thwarted the intention of the lower density controls, and BSA should apply the restrictions since the City intended to restrict development of two buildings on one lot. To support its argument, Buildings submitted a letter from David Karnovsky, General Counsel of City Planning, which outlined the intentions behind the text.
BSA agreed with Corono, noting that from a plain reading of the text, it did not apply to Corono’s design. Buildings failed to provide any reason for a different interpretation, BSA added, noting that the legislative history provided by City Planning did not indicate an intention to apply the text differently than it was written.
BSA: 8 & 12 Reynolds Street (276-06-A) (May 22, 2007) (Adam Rothkrug, for Corono; Janine A. Gaylard, for DOB). CITYADMIN
CITYLAND Comment: City Planning is considering amendments to sections 23-711 and 23-88 of the zoning resolution to address this loophole.