BSA Continues Case For Bayswater Yeshiva Variances
The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals has once again put off making a decision on the application for several variances that would allow a developer to build a yeshiva in Bayswater. This continuance comes less than a month after the Borough President’s office recommended against the variances and two months after Community Board 14 made the same recommendation.
“Once again it’s continuing,” said Enid Glabman, the president of the Bayswater Civic Association, who attended the December 6 BSA hearing.
According to Glabman, the BSA has asked that the law firm of Frederick Becker, which represented the developer USA Outreach Corporation at all the hearings on the issue, supply more information.
“We keep thinking it’s the end [but it’s not],” Glabman told The Wave after Monday’s hearing. “We’ve met with Helen Marshall and [Councilman James] Sanders and they agree with us.”
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall’s office issued a recommendation on November 30 objecting to granting bulk variances to allow construction of a three-story yeshiva with dormitories in an R2 district located at 1213 Bay 25 Street in Bayswater.
At the October 27 hearing at Borough Hall, the proposed site was described as a 55-foot-tall building with a cellar and sub-cellar. It would house a gymnasium, swimming pool, locker room, dining area, kitchen, synagogue, classrooms, library, study hall, dormitory rooms and administrative offices. According to the borough president’s recommendation papers, it would have a student body of 220 and 45 staff and faculty. According to Glabman, it was announced at the BSA hearing that the building would now be 51 feet tall.
Modifications were made to the application between the time of the hearings at CB 14 and the borough president’s office. Twenty-five parking spaces have replaced a proposed 13, and the proposed footprint of the building was reduced to allow a landscaped buffer lowering the proposed FAR (Floor to Area Ratio) from 1.1 to 1.08. The side yard setback was also changed to lessen the degree of noncompliance.
Despite this, Marshall followed the recommendations of CB 14 and residents who testified at her hearing. Among the reasons given by Marshall for recommending against the variances were: The increased amounts of vehicular and pedestrian traffic generated by such a large community facility would not be appropriate in this single family detached home neighborhood; the proposed community facility is out of character and scale with the surrounding neighborhood. The building as proposed, while three stories, is 55 feet in height, which would still make it the tallest and densest structure on its block and blocks around it.
Marshall did point out that, “the community facility proposed in this application is allowed [due to community facility text amendments that were approved in late 2004] – however, not at the proposed scale and density.”
“We’re very apprehensive and they’re very determined. We’re not opposed to the Yeshiva, just to the variances,” continued Glabman, who said the size of the building is much too big for the area. “We fought for the change in zoning. We believe that any change will lead to more [requests] for variances.”
Glabman said the BSA announced a date of January 24 for the next hearing on the issue.