2006-10-13 / Community

DEC Stops Wetland Home Build

By Brian Magoolaghan

The DEC has stopped work at this site in Bayswater where a new home was under construction.
The DEC has stopped work at this site in Bayswater where a new home was under construction.

The Department of Environmental Conservation shut down the construction of a new home in Bayswater last week because building on the small site, located on the Jamaica Bay waterfront, violates tidal wetland restrictions.

Environmental Conservation Officers inspected the site at 1412 Point Breeze Place on October 2 and determined that "illegal construction activity had taken place," according to Thomas V. Panzone, a spokesperson for the agency.

"The area has been cleared and graded and a concrete foundation has been poured within close proximity to the tidal wetlands boundary line," Panzone said. "No DEC permit was issued for this work."

Construction at the site began in September, when dump trucks started bringing fill to the site. The DEC took soil samples to determine the origin of the fill and whether it is contaminated.

The owner of the property, Aurohom Shoop, told The Wave he's confident he will be able to continue building the home, where, he says, he will eventually reside.

Anthony Kwar sits in the dining room of his Bayswater home, which has stunning views of Jamaica Bay that will be obstructed if a new home is built on an adjacent lot.Anthony Kwar sits in the dining room of his Bayswater home, which has stunning views of Jamaica Bay that will be obstructed if a new home is built on an adjacent lot. "All of my plans conform with the waterfront regulations," Shoop said in a telephone interview with The Wave. "My architect is working on obtaining those [DEC] permits," he added.

According to the DEC's website, the agency regulates activities in tidal wetlands and adjacent areas under the Tidal Wetlands Act. Tidal wetlands are described as "all the salt marshes, non vegetated as well as vegetated flats and shorelines subject to tides." Areas in New York City, such as Jamaica Bay, are considered adjacent if they are up to 150 feet inland.

All of Shoop's land falls within a 75-foot distance from Jamaica Bay and the foundation of his home is only about 30 feet from the water's edge, a Wave reporter noted on a recent visit. Until earlier this year, Shoop owned the property at 1412 Point Breeze Place, which was an undeveloped yard adjacent to the home located at 1416 Point Breeze Place, which he also owned. Shoop sold the house to Anthony Kwar and his mother, Annette Superville, in May, but retained the adjacent yard property.

Kwar said he and his mother paid $700,000 for the two-family house - largely because of its sweeping view of the bay and Edgemere Park. Kwar is visually impaired and requires the assistance of an aide but also owns a boat and enjoys fishing and being close to the bay. "The view is the selling point of this house," he said. "The front of this house is what faces the bay."

Kwar, who has gathered signatures on a petition and is fighting Shoop's effort to build, says Shoop promised that he wouldn't build on the site and then went back on his word. "We had a verbal agreement but he didn't stick to his word," Kwar said. "It was my mistake for not putting it in a contract."

Shoop maintains Kwar was "100 percent aware" of his intent to build a new home there.

The sale agreement for 1416 Point Breeze Place reveals that Shoop reserved a 10-foot by 40-foot easement over Kwar's property for a "driveway/ frontage space."

Meanwhile, Kwar says Shoop offered to sell him 1412 Point Breeze Place for an additional $200,000 but he's waiting because the land will fetch far less if it can't be developed.

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