It’s back to the drawing board – for a fourth time – for the developer of a controversial City Island senior housing facility.
The city Board of Standards and Appeals recently told the Italian Hospital Society it yet again needs to reduce the intensity of its proposed facility at Schofield Street and City Island Avenue.
The board previously forced the developer to reduce the project in both size and scope from a 214-unit assisted living facility to a 54-unit senior housing building in the latest plans that will still require a zoning variance to conform to City Island’s stringent codes.
The board specifically asked that the Floor Area Ratio, often cited as a measure of the “intensity” of the development, be reduced from 0.8 to 0.5 FAR, the average for residential structures on the island. That request came at a BSA hearing Tuesday, Feb. 25.
“I know that he is not commenting on this,” said an assistant to Dr. Domenico Mignone, IHS president, when asked about the board’s latest request.
The City Island Civic Association has hired its own lawyer to contest the developer’s plans, arguing that granting a variance for the large development would be a mistake because it would not be in keeping with the low-density context of the rest of the island.
“The BSA did not turn down their plan,” said Barbara Dolensek, CICA second vice-president who attended the hearing and testified in Manhattan before the board, which grants zoning variances.
“They said that the FAR is still to high at 0.8 and to go back to 0.5,” she added. “If they do that, there will be another hearing in May. So we are presuming that they are back to the drawing board.”
Bill Stanton, CICA president who also spoke at the hearing, indicated that the project has virtually no grass roots support on the island.
“The only senior citizen on the island that Mignone put forward just happens to be the real estate broker on it,” said Stanton. “There’s a little bit of a conflict there.”
Community Board 10 is also opposed to the variance, citing the size of the building in relation to other residential buildings on the island. It also has argued it would put frail seniors in a floodplain, should it come to having to evacuate them.
“We felt it was unconscionable to put senior citizens in an apartment building in a flood zone,” said CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns.