St. Albans fights affordable housing on Farmers

By Juan Soto

Some community members in St. Albans are not giving up, at least not yet.

After the Board of Standards and Appeals approved the zoning variances allowing for a five-story affordable housing building on Farmers Boulevard, the neighbors are still trying to prevent the church that owns the land from erecting the unit in partnership with a developer from Westchester County.

They filed an appeal in State Supreme Court against the city and the Board of Standards and Appeals.

They went to the Sutphin Boulevard courthouse Jan. 28.

“It was postponed because the city was not ready for arguments,” said Karen Plummer, president of the St. Albans Civic Improvement Association.

Both sides are due back in court March 18.

“The city has to answer for us,” Plummer said. “We are waiting to hear why they approved the construction of this building.”

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

Neighbors said they opposed the structure because, besides traffic congestion, the new residents would have a negative impact on PS 15, PS 36 and IS 59. They said the schools are already filled to capacity.

To help pay for the legal fees, the St. Albans Civic Improvement Association held a fund-raiser Jan. 23 at the Linden House.

“It went very well,” said Sharon Johnson, a member of the association, pointing out that about 75 people showed up.

“We are getting support from the community,” she noted.

Johnson said the civic association is coming up with new ideas to raise funds and amass even more community support against the project.

“We are thinking about new ideas to organize more events,” Johnson said.

The community organization claimed the building is “not compatible” with an area made up of two-story houses and zoned for low, residential homes.

The Board of Standards and Appeals approved the zoning variances that the developers, including the St. Albans Presbyterian Church, needed involving maximum building height, maximum dwelling unit and minimum parking.

“I believe this is wrong,” Plummer said when the building got the approval from the Board of Standards and Appeals.

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

During the summer, neighbors held several rallies to show their opposition to the project. They said the building, if built, would be “hazardous to pedestrians.”

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

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