Variance for carwash denied

Developer failed to show residential use was infeasible on large Queens site. On December 7, 2004, BSA denied a variance application for an automatic car wash proposed for 34- 11 Rockaway Boulevard at the corner of Sea Girt Boulevard in Queens, a C2- 2(R6) zone. Residential and retail use, but not car washes, would be permitted as-of-right on the site, a 37,255 sq.ft. lot with a 206 ft. street frontage along Far Rockaway Boulevard and 121 ft. frontage on Sea Girt Boulevard. The applicant argued that the lack of direct access to the Rockaway Freeway made both uses economically infeasible. The applicant also claimed that the site’s irregular shape, as it narrowed from 225 ft. to 121 ft., made a residential use unworkable.

At the hearings, BSA requested that the applicant submit economic studies of different residential developments that could be built as-ofright. The applicant submitted an 11- unit scenario for the 37,255 sq.ft. lot, claiming that, with the lack of freeway access and the odd site size, 11 units were the maximum workable unit number. Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan expressed doubt as to the analysis and commented that the applicant failed to submit requested evidence such as a showing that the construction costs were as high as alleged or that the site’s alleged high water table increased development costs.

BSA denied the variance, finding that the applicant failed to show that the odd-shaped site compromised the income that could be generated by an as-of-right development. BSA, noting that a residential use seemed less impacted by the lack of freeway access than retail, found that the developer’s studies did not maximize the potential residential unit number. Further, BSA found the applicant’s site valuation was “impermissibly inflated,” because its $1,125,000 total was arrived at by valuing the land at $250,000 and counting the value of the land again when determining the value of the two buildings. BSA stated that the “double-counting” incorrectly skewed the potential rate of return of a permitted use.

BSA: 34-11 Far Rockaway Boulevard (364- 03-BZ) (December 7, 2004) (Rothkrug Rothkrug, for car wash). CITYADMIN

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