St. Albans church gets approval for building

By Juan Soto

The community opposition was not enough to prevent developers, which includes the church that owns the land, from erecting an affordable housing five-story building on Farmers Boulevard in St. Albans.

The city Board of Standards and Appeals approved Tuesday the zoning variances the developers were seeking to build the complex that will also house a community center in the ground floor.

The project had three votes in favor and one abstention. The board member who abstained explained she did not know enough about the proposed plan.

“The board seemed to be supportive of the plan,” said a source familiar with the BSA hearings about the construction plans.

“I believe this is wrong,” said Karen Plummer, president of the St. Albans Civic Improvement Association. “Too many people will move in and the neighborhood can’t sustain it.”

The developers, including the St. Albans Presbyterian Church, needed variances involving maximum building height, maximum dwelling unit and minimum parking.

The project consists of a 67-unit structure of one- and two-bedroom apartments that will be built in two empty lots located on Farmers Boulevard between 118th and 119th avenues.

“This is just too much for us,” Plummer said.

Once the decision becomes public, the people in the community who opposes the project will have 30 days to appeal.

The St. Albans Civic Improvement Association will hold a meeting to decide if it will appeal the decision by the BSA to allow for the 65,000square-foot complex.

Community members said that, besides traffic congestion concerns, the new residents would have a negative impact on PS 15, PS 36 and IS 59 because these schools are already filled to capacity.

The neighborhood is basically made of two-story houses and is zoned for low, residential homes.

Some residents insisted the project “is not compatible” with the landscape of the neighborhood.

During one of the review sessions by the BSA, one member questioned the parking demand study forwarded by the developer, an analysis concluding that “31 percent of the residents of the area commute by subway, but there is no subway in the vicinity.”

Community Board 12 approved the Westchester developer’s project by a 19-9 margin, with eight abstentions.

At a summer rally, neighbors contended traffic congestion on Farmers Boulevard would be “hazardous to pedestrians” if the structure was erected.

They also said that as a result of the new businesses in the neighborhood, the boulevard “is consistently congested and more so at peak travel hours.”

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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