• September 20, 2014
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Queens Chronicle

House renovation called excessive

Whitestone neighbors complain that project is illegal for location

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Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:13 am, Thu Mar 27, 2014.

Neighbors in Whitestone say a renovation project on 24th Avenue has gotten out of hand and wonder why the city hasn’t taken action.

Tom Casey, who lives on the block, and other nearby residents have watched in disbelief the remodeling of a one-family semi-attached house at 147-37 24 Ave. It was supposed to be converted to a two-family.

“But the work looked too aggressive,” Casey said. “They added two stories and extended the house 14 feet.”

Concerned that the project wasn’t following zoning restrictions for the one- and two-family residential area, neighbors visited the Department of Buildings last summer to express their concern.

Casey said the building permit was re-evaluated by the agency, approved again and construction continued in the fall.

Now, he said, the renovation is almost complete and concerns continue. The exterior of the house shows four doorbells and eight air exhaust vents.

“A neighbor who had an opportunity to see inside reports lavatory facilities in a warren of bedrooms,” Casey added.

He noted that the DOB has not yet issued a certificate of occupancy for the house and reached out to city officials for help. Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7, said she will bring up the issue Friday to Anthony Iuliano, a Queens DOB representative, at a pre-arranged meeting.

“It is a sad fact that the quality of life in Queens is being eroded by landlords, absent or otherwise, who have no regard for zoning restrictions,” Casey said.

Attempts to reach the contractor, Lin Construction Co., were not successful.

According to Kelly Magee, DOBspokeswoman, the job was audited by the agency last April, which means the full scope of work was reviewed to ensure that the work being done was in compliance with approved drawings.

Magee said the audit was accepted and no issues were found. When the department goes out for the final construction inspection, “we will again ensure that work was done in accordance with approved plans. A CO cannot be issued until the final construction sign off is completed,” she said.

In addition, a bathroom was also added to the cellar with the following restrictions: “the three-fixture bathroom located in the cellar shall be used solely in connection with the dwelling unit above. No living, sleeping or cooking is permitted ... and in no case shall the cellar be rented independent of the dwelling.”

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