A Whitestone corner is off-limits to overdevelopment, Community Board 7 declared at its meeting on Monday night in Flushing.
Board members turned down construction variances that would permit the construction of a two-family home on a vacant corner lot on 22nd Avenue. The vote was the result of concerns about maintaining the character of the neighborhood’s housing stock.
The owner of the 25-foot-wide vacant corner lot at 146-45 22nd Ave. requested permission to construct a two-story, two-family house with a thinner front yard, larger floor area and smaller size per dwelling unit than currently mandated by zoning law. The house would contain two dwellings and a cellar area. The proposal also included plans for a two-car garage, which does not require a variance.
“We’re trying to show and send a signal that we’re just trying to build a decent-sized dwelling. That’s all we’re trying to do,” said Eric Palatnik, attorney representing the land owner.
A neighbor to the property was present to recommend that the board accept the variances.
“I live on the left-hand side of the property…and it’s going to be very nice to see a house built there,” the resident said. The neighbor said that he has personally cleared the lot of garbage over the years. He also stated that the proposed dwelling would not alter the character of the neighborhood, which was a concern brought up by board members.
One board member agreed with the resident’s statements.
“I am also familiar with what a vacant lot looks like. And I would tend to agree; it’s probably a garbage dump over there,” one board member said. “I would think that a dwelling there — especially with a two-car garage — would be better than if we just leave a vacant lot.”
Still, board members felt granting the variances may cause issues down the line. In the end, the advisory body voted 25-6 recommending denial of the variances. The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals has the final say over zoning variances.
“I believe we have zoning for a reason,” said Frank Macchio, member of the board’s zoning committee. “Zoning is there to protect the neighborhood. What we do by approving is we set precedent for the rest of the neighborhood.”