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315 12 BZ Resolution

315 12 BZ Resolution

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Published by queenscrapper
Decision by BSA on Astoria nightmare building.
Decision by BSA on Astoria nightmare building.

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Published by: queenscrapper on May 29, 2013
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07/10/2013

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315-12-BZCEQR #13-BSA-057Q
APPLICANT – Akerman Senterfitt, LLP, for PaliRealty LLC, owner.SUBJECT – Application November 20, 2012 – SpecialPermit (§73-50) to allow for a community facilitybuilding, contrary to rear yard requirements (§33-29).C4-3 zoning district.PREMISES AFFECTED – 23-25 31
st
Street, east sideof 31
st
Street, between 23
rd
Avenue and 23
rd
Road,Block 835, Lot 27 & 31, Borough of Queens.
COMMUNITY BOARD #1QACTION OF THE BOARD –
Application granted oncondition.THE VOTE TO GRANT –Affirmative: Chair Srinivasan, Vice Chair Collins,Commissioner Ottley-Brown, Commissioner Hinksonand Commissioner Montanez ..........................................5Negative:...........................................................................0THE RESOLUTION –WHEREAS, the decision of the Queens BoroughCommissioner, dated October 22, 2012, acting onDepartment of Buildings Application No. 420229194,reads in pertinent part:[t]he rear lot line of this zoning lot coincideswith the residential district boundary.Provide 30 ft. rear yard as per ZR 33-292;andWHEREAS, this is an application under ZR §§73-50 and 73-03, to legalize, on a site in a C4-3 zoningdistrict abutting an R5B zoning district, the constructionof an eight-story community facility building with anopen area 23 feet above curb level with a minimumdepth of 20 feet, contrary to ZR § 33-292; andWHEREAS a public hearing was held on thisapplication on February 26, 2013 after due notice bypublication in
The City Record 
, with continued hearingson March 19, 2013 and April 23, 2013, and then todecision on May 21, 2013; andWHEREAS, the premises and surrounding area hadsite and neighborhood examinations by Chair Srinivasan,Vice-Chair Collins, Commissioner Hinkson,Commissioner Montanez, and Commissioner Ottley-Brown; andWHEREAS, Community Board 1, Queens,recommends approval of the application on condition that(1) the rear wall with a height of 23 feet be completelyfinished with stucco; (2) the mechanical equipment on theroof setback at the rear be installed on vibration pads andencased with sound-attenuating materials to reduce noiseand vibrations; (3) the entire parapet wall at the rearsetback be high enough to conceal rooftop mechanicalequipment; (4) the front of the building and setback areabe well-lit when the building is not in operation; and (5)the applicant remedy damages to the adjacent owners on31
st
and 32
nd
streets by agreeing to pay repair costs; andWHEREAS, certain members of the surroundingcommunity provided written and oral testimony insupport of the application; andWHEREAS, certain members of the surroundingcommunity provided written and oral testimony inopposition to the application (“the Opposition”); andWHEREAS, the Opposition’s primary concerns arethat: (1) no grant should be given until all damage toadjacent properties has been repaired and owners’ costsrecouped; (2) the insurance claims process has beenunsatisfactory; (3) the applicant has not providedevidence of the need for the special permit; and (4) thepotential nuisance of light and noise on the adjacentproperties; andWHEREAS, the subject site is an interior zoninglot (comprising Tax Lots 27 and 31) located on the eastside of 31st Street between 23rd Avenue and 23rdRoad, with 125 feet of frontage on 31st Street, a depthof 90 feet, and a total lot area of 11,250 sq. ft.; andWHEREAS, the site is located within a C4-3zoning district that abuts an R5B zoning district to itsrear; andWHEREAS, pursuant to ZR § 33-292, an openarea 23 feet above curb level with a minimum depth of 30 feet is required on a zoning lot within a C4-3 districtwith a rear lot line that abuts the rear lot line of a zoninglot in a residence district; andWHEREAS, the applicant proposes to legalize apartially-constructed eight-story community facilitybuilding that provides an open area along the rear lotline beginning above the roof of the first story (23 feetabove curb level), with a depth of 20 feet (the “20-footyard”), rather than the required 30 feet; andWHEREAS, the applicant represents that thebuilding complies in all other respects with theapplicable provisions of the Zoning Resolution; andWHEREAS, under ZR § 73-50, the Board maygrant a waiver of the rear yard (open area) requirementsset forth in ZR § 33-29 in appropriate cases; andWHEREAS, the applicant states that the instantapplication is an appropriate case for a waiver of therequirements set forth in ZR § 33-29; andWHEREAS, the applicant states that the non-complying 20-foot yard is attributable to a design errorby the project architect and that the error wasdiscovered after approximately 80 percent of thebuilding was completed; andWHEREAS, the applicant states that in order tocomply with ZR § 33-292 at this stage of construction,the rearmost 10-foot portion of the building at the firstseven stories would have to be demolished by hand andreconstructed with a completely redesigned structuralsystem; the applicant represents that such work isinfeasible; andWHEREAS, as to the infeasibility, the applicantrepresents that the line of columns at the rear of thebuilding begin below ground at the foundation andcontinue to the roof level, and cannot practically be
 
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315-12-BZCEQR #13-BSA-057Q
moved without the construction of new footings and theremoval of the parking ramps; andWHEREAS, additionally, the roof water tankswould have to be relocated to a different portion of theroof and such portion would have to be structurallyreinforced to carry the additional loads, at significantdesign and construction costs; andWHEREAS, lastly, the removal of 10 feet of building depth would result in a building depth of 45feet at the fourth through eighth stories, which theapplicant asserts is inadequate to provide an efficientfloor plate for a modern medical office use; andWHEREAS, the applicant asserts that the waiverwill not have an adverse effect on the surrounding area;andWHEREAS, the applicant represents that of theseven other zoning lots located on the 31st Streetfrontage, six extend to the rear lot line; andWHEREAS, the applicant also notes that prior tothe construction of the subject building, Lot 27 wasoccupied by a one-story commercial building thatextended to its rear lot line and Lot 31 was occupied bya three-story residential building that provided anapproximately 20-foot rear yard consistent with theproposed; andWHEREAS, the applicant notes that there is alack of adequate medical facilities in the neighborhoodand states that the proposed facility is desired by thecommunity at large; andWHEREAS, the applicant notes that the proposedtenants include University Orthopedics of NYC,Metropolitan Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Centerof Queens; andWHEREAS, the applicant notes that if thebuilding were redesigned to comply with ZR § 33-292,the building height would be increased from 158 feet to182 feet; such increase in height would be as of rightand result in longer shadows being cast on neighboringbuildings; further, the decreased floor plates would bedetrimental to the proposed medical use, which theapplicant states requires large floor plates so as tominimize the movement of patients from floor to floor;andWHEREAS, the applicant submitted a shadowstudy demonstrating the increased neighborhood impactof a taller building; andWHEREAS, during the public review and hearingprocess, the Opposition raised concerns about theimpact of the building on the residences directlyabutting the site; specifically, the Opposition raisedconcerns regarding: (1) the visibility, noise andpotential contamination from exhaust and intake ventsand stair pressurization fans at the rear first story roof;(2) glass blocks within the rear wall at the first storyand basement, which would allow light to transferoutside the building; (3) open violations from theDepartment of Buildings (“DOB”); and (4) damagesallegedly sustained by the adjacent properties during thecourse of construction of the subject building andrelated DOB violations; andWHEREAS, accordingly, the Board directed theapplicant to (1) redesign the exhaust and vent system sothat it was further from the adjacent residents at therear; (2) remove the glass blocks in the rear wall andreplace with concrete block and stucco that will beopaque; (3) describe the nature of any outstandingviolations; and (4) address the Opposition’s concernsabout property damage; andWHEREAS, in response, the applicant: (1)relocated exhaust vents from the rear of the building tothe front setback; (2) relocated intake vents and stairpressurization fans to be as far as functionally possiblefrom the rear parapet; (3) provided a detailed statementfrom the project engineer certifying the make, model,size, functionality and necessity of the intake vents andstair pressurization fans; (4) submitted a visibility studyindicating that the intake vents and stair pressurizationfans will not be visible from the tallest of the residencesabutting the rear lot line (23-26 32nd Street); (5)amended the plans to show the replacement of glassblocks with solid masonry; and (6) submitted evidenceof a request from the project architect to the QueensDOB Commissioner for permission to perform work inorder to remove the conditions that gave rise to theviolations; andWHEREAS, as to the damages allegedlysustained by the adjacent properties during the courseof construction at the subject building and related DOBviolations, the applicant asserts that such matters areunder the purview of the general contractor and itsinsurance company and that it is prohibited, by contract,from intervening in the insurance negotiations; andWHEREAS, further, the applicant represents thatthe violations were all issued in response to theneighbors’ complaints and, thus, cannot be resolvedabsent the neighbors’ cooperation, particularly giventhat a number of the violations are not actually issued tothe subject lot, but to the neighbors’, and that otherviolations require access to the neighbors’ property; andWHEREAS, a search of the BuildingsInformation System reflects that there are threeoutstanding violations on the site: (1) ECB ViolationNo. 34959031Y was issued on September 18, 2012 andalleged a failure to safeguard persons and propertyaffected by construction operations, contrary to NewYork City Building Code § 3301.2; the respondent wasfound in violation on January 22, 2013, and nocertificate of correction has been approved by DOB; (2)ECB Violation No. 34959207Z was issued on January15, 2013 and alleged a failure to safeguard persons andproperty affected by construction operations, contraryto BC § 3301.2; the respondent was found in violation
 
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315-12-BZCEQR #13-BSA-057Q
on April 30, 2013, and no certificate of correction hasbeen approved by DOB; and (3) DOB Violation No.073112C0101SA was issued on July 31, 2012 andalleged that the borough commissioner had issued anintent to revoke the permit and approval for Job No.420229194 and a Stop Work Order, pursuant to NewYork City Administrative Code § 28-207.2; andWHEREAS, the Board notes that disputesbetween neighbors and the resolution of propertydamage caused by construction are beyond its purviewand it cannot get involved in such disputes; however, itstrongly encourages the parties to work together toachieve a resolution fairly and expeditiously; andWHEREAS, the applicant represents that thenegotiations between the contractor’s insurancecompany and the neighbors’ insurance companies areongoing; andWHEREAS, the applicant also notes that, onApril 15, 2013, one of the neighbors has commenced anaction in New York State Supreme Court, Sesumi v.Pali Realty, LLC et al., Index No. 7428/13, QueensCounty, for alleged property damages; andWHEREAS, the Opposition also raised additionalconcerns regarding light pollution from the building, thesufficiency of the roof drains, the functioning of theelectrical and mechanical systems and equipment, thegeneral contractor’s means and methods of construction, and the completeness of plans submittedin connection with this application; andWHEREAS, as to these concerns, the Board findsthat the applicant adequately addressed them and thatall construction methods and plans are subject to DOBreview and approval; andWHEREAS, the Board notes that the constructionactivities have given rise to certain damage to propertyand disputes with adjacent property owners, but thatsuch effects are the result of physical
 
construction workand not the land use and planning effects that the Boardconsiders in determining whether or not the open arearequired by ZR § 33-292 must be provided; andWHEREAS, further, the Board notes that the useand building are permitted as of right but for the rearten feet of building depth above a height of 23 feet; andWHEREAS, the Board notes that the portion of the new building which appears to have created themost conflict with the adjacent property owners isactually the portion of the building (and its rear wall)within the rear yard
below
23 feet, which is permittedas-of-right pursuant to ZR § 33-292; andWHEREAS, the Board finds that the extra ten feetof building depth at the rear above a height of 23 feethas not led to the adjacent property owners’ concerns inthe short-term and is compatible with the adjacent usesin the long-term, pursuant to ZR §§ 73-03 and 73-50;however, the impact of the physical construction workupon adjacent properties may be considered by theBoard in determining the appropriate conditions andsafeguards to impose along with the grant of a specialpermit pursuant to ZR § 73-03; andWHEREAS, the Board notes that the applicant hassatisfied all of the Community Board’s requests related tobuilding design and site conditions, in that: (1) the rearwall will be completely finished with stucco; (2) themechanical equipment on the roof setback at the rear willbe installed on vibration pads and encased with sound-attenuating materials to reduce noise and vibrations; (3)the entire parapet wall at the rear setback is high enoughto conceal rooftop mechanical equipment; and (4) thefront of the building and setback area will be well-litwhen the building is not in operation; andWHEREAS, as to the Community Board’sadditional request that the applicant remedy damages tothe adjacent owners on 31st and 32nd streets, the Boardnotes that both parties have testified that there areongoing negotiations between the property owners’ andcontractor’s insurance companies to resolve the damages;andWHEREAS, based on the record, the Board findsthat the application meets the requirements of ZR § 73-03(a) in that the disadvantages to the community atlarge are outweighed by the advantages derived fromsuch special permit; and that the adverse effect, if any,will be minimized by appropriate conditions; andWHEREAS, the proposed project will notinterfere with any pending public improvement projectand therefore satisfies the requirements of ZR § 73-03(b); andWHEREAS, therefore, the Board has determinedthat the evidence in the record supports the findingsrequired to be made under ZR §§ 73-50 and 73-03.
Therefore it is resolved,
that the Board of Standards and Appeals issues a Type II determinationunder 6 N.Y.C.R.R. Part 617.5 and 617.3 and §§
 
5-02(a), 5-02(b)(2) and 6-15 of the Rules of Procedurefor City Environmental Quality Review, and makes therequired findings under ZR §§ 73-50 and 73-03, topermit, on a site in a C4-3 zoning district abutting anR5B zoning district, the construction of an eight-storycommunity facility building with an open area 23 feetabove curb level with a minimum depth of 20 feet,contrary to ZR § 33-292,
on condition
that all work shallsubstantially conform to drawings as they apply to theobjection above-noted, filed with this application marked“Received April 2, 2013” – sixteen (16) sheets; and
on further condition
;THAT the vents atop the rear first story roof willbe for intake only;THAT the stair pressurization fans atop the rearfirst story roof will be operated only in an emergency;THAT all lighting will be directed away fromadjacent residences, as reflected on the plans;THAT the glass blocks at the rear wall will be

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