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CB 10 okays CI rezone; but denies height waiver

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Developer Tony Errico got what he wanted, almost. On Thursday, June 18, members of Community Board 10 voted to approve a rezone of 226 Fordham Street, where Errico plans to build a 5.4-acre condo community. His current plan calls for 22 houses – 43 residential units. The vote was unanimous with three abstentions.

CB10 opposed Errico’s request for a special height waiver, however. There is a height limit of 35 feet on City Island; Errico wants to build houses beyond the limit. It was a tight vote; 13 members voted no and 11 yes. There were three abstentions.

“A lot of people are concerned about the height limit,” Barbara Dolensek of the City Island Civic Association said. “[Errico] didn’t give a reason for [exceeding] it other than wanting to make more money.”

The advisory vote – the City Planning Commission will render an absolute decision – came on the heels of a packed public hearing at the City Island public library on Tuesday, June 2 and a tense CB10 committee meeting on Tuesday, June 9. At the committee meeting, Errico promised to include a 43-unit cap in the deed to 226 Fordham Street. Housing and Zoning chair Pete Sullivan and other committee members were concerned that Errico could flip the property to another developer after obtaining the variance.

Errico wants to rezone the property R3A, which would allow up to 76 residential units. He will only include the 43-unit cap if his request for a height waiver is approved, lawyer Melanie Meyers said. The deed amendment does not mention the height waiver, Sullivan countered.

“We were happy to gain the general support of CB10 but the height waiver is a necessity,” Meyers said.

226 Fordham Street is bounded by Fordham Street, Fordham Place and the Long Island Sound. Errico wants to build five houses at 35 feet and 17 houses at 41½ feet. The 35-foot houses would face Fordham Place. The 41½-foot houses would appear shorter because the property is on a downward slope, Meyers said. Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. will consider the plan next; the City Council will issue a recommendation as well.

CB10 members suggested that Errico chuck an attic to meet the 35-foot limit but peaked roofs are required on City Island; he would need to scrap a full floor instead. Errico acquired 226 Fordham Street in 2001. At the June 2 public hearing, City Island residents asked about parking. Errico will offer condo residents 86 on-site parking spots, Meyers said. Residents are worried that the condo dwellers will hog on-street parking.

A number of CB10 members questioned Errico’s planned waterfront promenade, open to the public as required by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Only eight feet separate the promenade pavilion and a house. Errico has developed a number of condo communities in New Jersey. City Island Estates is his first New York venture. Meyers thanked Sullivan and CB10. She expects Diaz Jr. to hold a public hearing on 226 Fordham Street in July.

At the committee meeting, one topic of concern was a sale ad for the property. Broker Massey Knakal listed 226 Fordham Place for $8 million in May. On June 9, Errico apologized for the ad. He engaged real estate broker Massey Knakal in an attempt to attract a national builder, Errico said. Lawyer Stanley Schlein promised to admonish the broker, but the property was still listed on Monday, June 22.

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