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City Island community hiring lawyer over proposed assisted living facility

Bronx Times

Community leaders on City Island are weighing legal action against a developer who plans a 190-unit assisted living and senior housing facility in the quiet, island community.

They charge the four-story, 190-unit violates local zoning law.

The project has been turned down by Community Board 10 and the Department of City Planning, but the developer plans to push an appeal with the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals.

The proposed facility would rise on a vacant lot at Schofield Street and City Island Avenue, and is being pushed by the Yonkers-based Italian Hospital Society.

A BSA hearing date has not been set, but a lawyer for the developer is scheduled to address CB 10’s November housing and zoning committee meeting, said Barbara Dolensek, vice-president of the City Island Civic Association.

“The structure being proposed is way too big and out of the tenor and the tone of City Island,” said City Island Civic Association president Bill Stanton.

He said he believes having such a large building standing could turn into a problem if the state health department ultimately rejects a license for the assisted living and housing facility for people over age 55.

Fundraising for a lawyer

At a community meeting at Grace Episcopal Church on Friday, September 14, Stanton called on neighbors to commit $100 per household to hire a lawyer to represent the community’s interests before the BSA.

Stanton believes the building as proposed in preliminary plans would lower property values on City Island.

The building would sit in a manufacturing zone as part of special zoning for the island. The special zoning, however, limits the height of buildings to 35 feet. A BSA waiver might apply even if the building is not used for assisted living, said Dolensek.

The main concern is that there is no other building as big on City Island Avenue, and that the plan as proposed is out of character with the surrounding community, said Dolensek.

“We obviously have to raise money (for an attorney),” said Dolensek. “We are going to do an island-wide campaign to raise money to pay for an expert land use lawyer who is familiar with the BSA.”

The Italian Hospital Society was formerly the fundraising arm of the now closed Cabrini Hospital in Manhattan, said CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns. It has a long and venerable history assisting Italian immigrants, he said.

The society is currently led by Doctor Domenico Mignone, who did not respond to repeated calls for comment.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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