Locust Point community fights proposed zoning variance for five new homes

This vacant land, on an undeveloped section of Longstreet Avenue, could see 5 two-family homes if a developer gets the variance it seeks.
Community News Group / Photo by Patrick Rocchio

The Locust Point community is preparing to oppose a zoning variance for a planned new development.

The developer with a waterview site on Longstreet Avenue is seeking a variance to allow the construction of 5 two-family homes on five lots that under normal circumstances would only allow 2 two-family homes under the area’s current R3-1 zoning, residents said.

After hearing about the plans, the Locust Point Community Association has mobilized to fight the proposed variance at Community Board 10, sources from within the association said.

The planned development sits next to an undeveloped portion of Longstreet Avenue between Glennon and Hatting places.

The developer is maintaining that because the lots are odd shaped, and the build-out of the street and the utilities in front, he will face financial hardships that will make it more difficult to make a profit if he is restricted to only what is allowable.

LPCA president Al Belfiore said that after hearing about the plans from the owner and developer John Comer, the organization simply cannot support the variance for many reasons.

These include an already overburdened sewer line servicing the community and the relatively high proposed pricing for the houses, from $900,000 to $1.1 million, that many in his group believe will make it difficult for the houses to sell.

“We cannot just indiscriminately support over-development of property in our area,” said Belfiore, adding of the hardship, “the owner says it is a big drain on his family, and I am sure it is.”

But, he added, the community should not have to make sacrifices because of the hardship.

Many of his views were echoed by fellow LPCA board member Chrys Napolitano, who said she believes that the developer should have done due diligence when purchasing the property. She also raised environmental concerns.

“If you know anything about storms and the history of the area, these homes would be a bad investment,” she said.

John Marano, first vice-chairman of CB 10, said the request for a variance will first go before the Housing and Zoning Committee meeting on Tuesday, January 6 at 7:30 p.m..

Since the individual lots are not very wide, Marano questions if they will offer enough amenities to attract buyers, he said.

Comer’s land-use attorney, Jon Popin of Duane Morris, said that each of the lots has a range of widths, from 30 to 60 feet, far smaller than is normally the case.

He said that his client is merely following city regulations that allow property owners to get relief, and make a reasonable return when the site is too expensive to develop.

“We are doing what any property owner would do,” he said, adding that they are reaching out to the community as much as they can and hope to gain their support.

Five houses are needed for the developer to earn even a modest profit because of the circumstances, he added.

Belfiore urges all concerned community members to come to the community board meeting and make their voices heard.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procc‌hio@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Community News Group / Photo by Patrick Rocchio

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