Board 7 Residents Decry Plans for Houses
“Our neighborhood has been desecrated and overcrowded,” Beverly McDermott, a resident of Community Board 7 and president of the Kissena Park Civic Association declared at land use hearings in Borough Hall last week. What brought McDermott and 10 other area residents to the hearings was an application by Eric Palatnik on behalf of Rushikesh Trivedi for variances from use, bulk and side yard regulations in order to build a two-family house at 147-08 48th Ave./48-05 Parsons Blvd., Flushing. McDermott and other residents claim that the corner on which the house is proposed to be built is in a neighborhood laden with community facilities—churches and schools—that make building any kind of residential structure on the lot impractical and dangerous.
Palatnik said Trivedi had originally sought to put a medical office on the site, but was prevented from doing so by a zoning change. A one-family house was then designed for the lot, but plans were once again quashed by zoning changes. Palatnik presented a plan for a two-family house to consist of two floors and a basement. A garage would be incorporated into the design, but would be used more for storage.
The area residents who attended the hearings would have none of the idea. “That’s the second busiest corner in the area,” resident Jim O’Donnell said. O’Donnell said the corner is “at a tipping point for safety” and other residents said that getting out of the driveway would be impossible on Sundays and difficult on weekdays. “A two-family house won’t relieve the congestion—it will add to it,” resident Robert Tucker said. Another resident claimed that a two-family house would strain an already overloaded infrastructure in the area.
Many of the area residents attending the hearings expressed similar views about an application by Alfonso Duarte on behalf of Bel Homes to extend the time of construction for six months to build two two-family homes in a district also zoned R2 at 143-53/55 Poplar Ave., Flushing. Duarte said the present owner of the property had started constructing the house and then been issued a stop-work order by the Department of Buildings after the area was rezoned because, the DOB maintained, the foundation had not been poured. Duarte claimed that the footings, which had been poured prior to the stop-work order, constituted the foundation. Representatives of Board 7 disputed this assertion. “The community is upset,” Duarte said. “They had 40 years to change this rule and now they’re taking it out on the builder.”
Alexandra Rosa, who with Irving Poy, Queens director of planning and development, presided at the hearings, asked if the basements of each house would have a separate outside entrance. Duarte responded in the affirmative. “There are a lot of powder rooms for a house,” Poy noted. Plans call for a powder room in each cellar and on the first floor of each house and a full bath on each second floor. Several area residents said that the presence of powder rooms on the basement level, along with outside entrances to the basement space, meant that the houses could accommodate more residents than the original plans allowed.
The major objective voiced by McDermott and other residents was that the neighborhood consists almost entirely of single-family houses and the proposed two-family houses do not fit the context of the area. “We ask that the law be upheld,” Joe Amoroso said. “It’s not just a question of hardship. We have a right to a better quality of life.” Theresa Higgins agreed. “We want to keep the area one-family so future generations can come to Flushing and share in the beauty of the neighborhood,” she said. “Every day there are complaints about illegal rebuilding,” Dorothy Wah said. “We have to stop this. The builder should have complied with the zoning.”
Rosa noted that Borough President Helen Marshall has taken a very active role in zoning issues throughout the borough and would continue to follow the matter closely before making recommendations as to the approval or disapproval of the applications for both projects. Community Board 7 recommended disapproval of both applications at its September and October meetings.
An application for another two-family dwelling, this one at 78-20 67th Rd., Middle Village, also came to land use hearings with a recommendation for disapproval, in this case by Community Board 5. Frederick A. Becker applied on behalf of Salvatore and Vincenza Porretto for variances from lot area and side yard regulations to construct a three-story two-family house. The variances were sought because the lot is undersized and narrow, Becker said, and if constricted as of right without the variances would be 12 feet wide with 2-foot-wide side yards. “Everything else meets the requirements for this zoning district,” he said. “The lot area and the side yards are the only problems.”