Applicant claimed that slope, location, and soil contamination necessitated variance. Northern LLC applied to BSA for a variance to build a five-story 40-unit residential building with 63 parking spaces at 241-15 Northern Boulevard, an irregularly-shaped vacant gasoline station in Douglaston, Queens. During the hearing process, Northern modified and reduced its proposal. Northern’s fourth version called for a three-story 24-unit residential building and partial subsurface parking lot with 34 accessory parking spaces and three reservoir spaces. The proposal still required a variance from BSA because the proposed development would exceed dwelling unit number, floor area, use, open space, front/rear yard, and sky exposure plane limitations.
The applicant claimed that because of the lot’s sloping condition, the front windows of a complying single-family residence would be nearly flush with the street level. The applicant further claimed that the expense of environmental monitoring and remediation due to the site’s soil contamination would increase construction costs and make as-of-right development that much more infeasible. The owner also argued that the site’s location, at the busy intersection of Douglaston Parkway and Northern Boulevard, was not a marketable location for a one-family as-of-right development.
Opponents argued that the proposal amounted to an out-of-character development that would increase traffic congestion at an already busy intersection. They also claimed that the soil contamination was a self-created hardship. Council Member Tony Avella, State Senator Frank Padavan, the Douglaston Civic Association, and Queens Community Board 11 were all opposed to the application.
BSA granted the variance, finding that while the site’s location did not produce a unique condition, the site’s topography, irregularity, location and contamination, in the aggregate, created the possibility that a one- or two- family home would not be marketable. BSA also ruled that the proposed development would not alter the character of the neighborhood and would not have a substantial adverse effect on traffic, noting that the applicant would provide more parking spaces than units. BSA also determined that the soil contamination was not a self-created hardship since the contamination predated modern environmental regulations.