A Corona man’s family members are fighting the construction of a building next door, at 34-57 107 St., which they say blocks his apartment.
Jose Tavarez and his wife, Dinah, made an impassioned plea against the building at Community Board 3’s meeting last week, urging members to vote against owner Eran Yousfan’s Board of Standards and Appeals application, which would allow him to continue construction at the site.
“It’s a cell in there,” Dinah Tavarez said of the apartment her father-in-law, Thomas Tavarez, lives in next door to the construction, at 34-61 107 St. The new house is being built so close to the existing one that there is “literally no space” between the two structures, according to his son.
Thomas Tavarez, who turns 70 this year, has lived in the house for over 30 years, Jose Tavarez said.
“The pictures, they speak for themselves,” Dinah Tavarez said through tears at the meeting, passing around photos of her father-in-law’s apartment, which show how his windows have been completely walled in by the new building.
But according to Hamlett Wallace, chairman of CB 3’s Land Use Committee and an area architect, the building is technically legal — Yousfan purchased the site in 2006, when the lot was under R6B zoning, a designation that allows for the construction.
In 2009, the area was downzoned to R5, but Yousfan’s lawyer, Eric Palatnik, explained the project’s foundation had already been laid, allowing it to be grandfathered under the old zoning designation.
Jose Tavarez countered that the building received a two-year permit to continue work in 2009, which expired in 2011. The Department of Buildings issued Yousfan a stop-work order on June 24, 2011.
Wallace said that Yousfan’s building has the right to appeal the stop order and move forward.
“They were abiding by the law as far as the building is concerned,” he said. Yousfan failed to complete the building’s construction in time because of “hard economic times,” a situation that is not unusual.
Despite Wallace’s recommendation, CB 3 voted to deny Yousfan’s BSA application. It will go to the Borough President’s office before heading to the BSA for a final decision.