By Mark Hallum
Construction on the house formerly owned by federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis at 218-15 40th Ave. in Bayside had a stop work order slapped on it in July due to revocation of the owners’ Alt-1 permit after the once stately home was torn down.
A spokesman for the city Department of Buildings said the owners have filed for a permit for an entire new building, but have not yet been approved.
The large home became the object of controversy in April after neighbor Bonnie Skala Kiladitis noticed the renovations taking a turn for the extreme.
The owners of the property were ordered to file for a new work permit in June, a DOB spokesman said. They no longer qualified for an alteration permit and were required to apply for a new building permit if they were approved. But according to a July 14 filing on the DOB website, the department revoked the Alt-1 after an inspection and a stop work order was placed on the site.
The Department of Buildings said the owner, who goes by the name Lisa, had originally filed for an Alt-1 permit restricting renovation to less than 50 percent of the original structure. The plans submitted to the DOB depict an update which would extend the front of the house a few feet. However, neighbors began to worry as the roof was torn off, followed by the top floor of the three-level structure. Finally, the home was reduced to ground level.
Garaufis’ house is believed to have been built circa 1890 and was the one of the personal residences of the Lawrence family, influential members of the early Bayside community. A study conducted by Bayside Historical Society Treasurer Paul Graziano found the Lawrence Estate eligible for the National and State Register of Historic Places. This recognition, however, carries no protection from demolition or alteration.
As the controversy, nurtured by Kiladitis, daughter of late community activist Frank Skala, grew, elected officials became involved in the fate of the house on 40th Avenue and looked to it as an example of a zoning violation epidemic in the community. A spokesman for Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said legislation is being drawn up to be introduced in the fall which will restrict work from continuing during the limbo period between a “notice to revoke” being applied to a work permit and the actual hearing to conclude if owners are in violation of their permit.
“Our community will not stand idly on the sidelines when homeowners and developers come into our neighborhoods and deceitfully try to circumvent building codes,” Vallone said. “This type of blatant disregard of building permit requirements and deliberate overdevelopment will never be accepted in our community.”
Among other elected officials fighting for stronger regulations are state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who each reached out to the Department of Buildings to see that the activity of the current owners of the historic property was stopped in its tracks.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall