Avella slams developer of Bayside Hills lot

State Sen. Tony Avella protests a variance with Bayside Hills residents. Photo courtesy Avella's office
By rich bockmann

Residents of Bayside Hills stood on the lawn of a small corner lot at 50-20 216th St. Sunday to protest a variance application that if approved by the city Board of Standards & Appeals, would allow for a second home to be built on the property.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) were united with the dozens of assembled homeowners in their message to the BSA that the proposal would significantly alter the low-density characteristic of the neighborhood.

Community Board 11 voted unanimously to oppose the variance and Borough President Helen Marshall spoke out against it as well, although both arms of the Queens government have only an advisory relationship with the BSA.

Paul Bonfilio, the architect whose name is on the BSA application, is requesting relief from the side- and rear-lot setbacks required by the area’s zoning. After subdividing the existing lot, he will attempt to claim that the new lot is too small to accommodate the setbacks. Prior to Sunday’s demonstration, Bonfilio had characterized the neighborhood’s reaction the his proposal as “bizarre.”

In his former role as the area’s councilman, Avella worked to rezone the neighborhood under the highly restrictive residential R2-A zoning — what he called the “anti-McMansion” zone.

In a phone interview from Albany Monday, he said he does not believe the application meets the BSA’s criterion for approval.

For one, he believes the application’s claim of “practical difficulties or unnecessary hardship” was self-imposed by the decision to subdivide the lot.

Avella said he also believes a second home is not the “minimum variance necessary to afford relief.” Avella said that an addition would be more in line with this requirement.

“On paper you know it’s wrong, and when you see how small the yard is, you see how ridiculous it is. All you could fit there is a tree house,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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