Standing in front of the ugly, paused construction site at 146-10 216 St in Bayside, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) stood with community advocates to protest the building and urged the city to prevent similar eyesores in the future.
“How the city allowed this to proceed to this point is amazing,” Avella said at the press conference. “I’m here to say ‘You know, Mayor de Blasio, step up to the plate because otherwise there’s gonna be a different thing when you come up for re-election.’”
According to the zoning diagram for the building — which is unfinished because of a stop-work order issued by the Department of Buildings for violations — the former semi-attached single-family house will be used for three different units. The owner of the home connected to it sold his property because of the construction.
Because the home at 146-10 216 and other homes next to it are in a high-density R4 zoning district, using the house for multiple units is legal. And though the stop-work order was issued, it was done after much of the construction had been completed.
After learning about it, Avella recommended that the DOB investigate the site. The property had gone unchecked before because of the city’s often abused self-certification rule, which allows licensed professionals to inspect a building instead of city inspectors.
Avella, who criticized the rule as a councilman, introduced a statewide ban of it to the state Legislature in 2013, but it was not passed in Albany.
“There should be some regulation requirement that, when a developer wants to change one half of a semiattached home, that the other property owner has to have some say in this,” Avella said. “I’m calling upon the city to finally do something once and for all about semiattached homes.”
Zoning expert Paul Graziano, who worked on Bayside’s rezoning with Avella when the senator was on the City Council, said, the developer can apply for a variance to the Board of Standards and Appeals to have the work order lifted. “What I have found, particularly in this administration, is that a stop-work order is a three-month delay and then they’re allowed to continue,” he said.
In addition to having to live around the site, neighboring homeowners worry about the inevitable decrease in their property value, traffic and other issues.
“We pay some of the highest property taxes here in the country and I think the homeowners here are entitled to a certain quality of life protection, that they’re safe in their home, that their property value is gonna be maintained,” the state senator said.
Overdevelopment in Northern Queens is considered a pervasive problem by many.
“When you have this type of overdevelopment, you’re possibly messing up the local elementary school if you do too much of this type of thing with overcrowding,” Frank Toner, president of the Rocky Hills Civic Association, said at the conference. “But the big thing is, for the homeowners, they’re losing that peace and quiet and I see in this area here, they probably have parking problems already. Now, there’s gonna be an exacerbation of that.”