CB7 nixes basement apartments

By Alex Robinson

Community Board 7 gave a resounding no to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to consider looking at legalizing basement apartments at a meeting Monday night.

The board unanimously voted to support a non-binding resolution declaring its opposition to the idea.

“This is out in the forefront right now,” board member Tyler Cassell said at the meeting. “We have to let them know we strongly oppose this.”

CB 7’s neighbor to the east, CB 11 passed its own resolution denouncing the possible legalization of basement apartments in April. CB covers Flushing, Whitestone, College Point and Bay Terrace, while CB 11 covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck and part of Auburndale.

De Blasio included the policy as part of his plan to build 200,000 units of affordable housing. His Housing Department commissioner, Vicki Been, recently stressed to a Queens Borough Board meeting the administration has not committed to anything concerning legalizing basement apartments other than taking a look at the possibility.

Board members scoffed at the idea, saying it would do nothing to address affordable housing problems and that it would lead to violations of the neighborhood’s zoning laws.

“The reason you can’t rent out [your basement] is the same reason you bought the house in the first place: It’s a single-family detached house,” CB 7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian said.

CB 7 also voted 38-0, with one abstention, to approve an application by the city Department of Transportation to rehabilitate the Roosevelt Avenue bridge, which runs over Flushing Creek and was constructed in 1927.

The bridge has four lanes of traffic, a sidewalk on either side and the No. 7 train on top.

The application requested approval for temporary construction, which DOT officials said will not disrupt No. 7 train service.

The rehab will reconstruct the deteriorated roadway and replace some of the bridge’s overstressed steel beams. New lighting will be installed on the bridge and sidewalks will be widened, DOT officials said.

The bridge will be rehabbed in three stages. The first and third stages will have two lanes and one sidewalk closed down while both sidewalks will be open during the second phase.

CB 7 also voted to pass a resolution that would encourage developers to have units in their buildings where smoking was not permitted.

The board passed the resolution 18-17 after a lengthy discussion.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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