By Rich Bockmann
A bus packed with members of the Bayside Hills community left the corner of 216th Street and 51st Avenue around noon Tuesday en route to downtown Manhattan, where the city Board of Standards and Appeals held a hearing on a controversial variance that has had the neighborhood in an uproar.
After both sides submitted testimony, the BSA decided to adjourn the hearing until July 26.
Community Board 11, Borough President Helen Marshall, the Bayside Hills Civic Association and a number of northeast Queens elected officials have all expressed their opposition to the proposal to place a second house next to an existing one at 50-20 216th St. The home’s owner had divided his tax lot into two smaller lots and needs a variance in order to fit the second house on the smaller lot.
“We don’t want to build another house in this garden here,” said BHCA President Michael Feiner, referring to the small, triangular piece of property tucked into the corner of the street where the house would be placed.
“If one would take a look at the property and its surrounding area, it wouldn’t be difficult to notice that it is inappropriate to build another home on the lot so close to the already-existing residence. All this is an arduous task for folks such as us who shouldn’t be dealing with this anymore. Still, we must continue to battle against these developers or before we know it, our entire neighborhood will look ridiculous,” he told the nearly 30 people gathered outside the house waiting to board the bus.
Feiner said he could have easily gathered two or three times as many people to bring to the hearing if he so chose to.
“In 25 years, I’ve never received more phone calls or letters of complaint or seen more bipartisan support,” he said.
Feiner thanked state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who held a rally at the site in March, for obtaining the bus. He also thanked representatives for the senator and state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck), as well as City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) for testifying at the hearing.
“We have the support of the Queens Civic Congress. That’s quite impressive,” he said, explaining this was a case of setting a precedent. “It’s not just Bayside Hills we’re worried about, it’s the entire borough of Queens.”
Despite the overwhelming support for his cause, Feiner said he was worried because the BSA had a tendency to side with developers.
He characterized the attitude of the property owner’s architect, Paul Bonfilio, as smug.
“They’re very palsy-walsy over there,” he said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.