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Residents win round two versus Astor project

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Following a second Board of Stands and Appeals (BSA) public hearing, Astor Avenue community members sound optimistic about the future of 1464 Astor Avenue. On Tuesday, November 10, they joined representatives for Councilman Jimmy Vacca, Senator Jeff Klein, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Community Board 11 and the Allerton Avenue Homeowners and Tenants Association at 40 Rector Street in Manhattan to reiterate concerns about an unspecified medical facility proposed for the empty lot.

“All who spoke on behalf of the residents at the hearing challenged each and every claim the developer was making,” community member Frank Tirabasso said.

Prior to its second hearing, BSA members requested that the developer, Les Lerner of LAL Astor Avenue Management [LAL], alter his plans to include a larger barrier between proposed parking spaces and neighboring homes. BSA members also requested that he perform a traffic study to determine how an increase in traffic would affect the Astor Avenue community.

Lerner agreed to decrease the depth of his proposed building from roughly 154 feet to 107 feet but added a third story. His altered plan lists the facility at 10,000 square feet, the same as before. Lerner added one additional parking spot to the 20 he originally proposed and submitted a traffic study based on an office located on Northern Boulevard in Queens.

“This time around it felt as though the [BSA] commissioners raised a lot of the same concerns that we had regarding the lack of information requested of the applicant,” Eastchester Road resident Anjali Kochar.  “[LAL] tried to compare [1464 Astor Avenue] to a facility on Northern Boulevard.  It was good to see the commissioner raise that as a point of contention.”

BSA members also questioned the proposed facility’s landscaping plan and LAL’s knowledge of a capital project planned for Engine Company 97, the firehouse next door. They asked Lerner why he needed 10,000 square feet. LAL attorney from the firm of Rothkrug Rothkrug & Spector hadn’t responded to requests for comment as of press time. 

Astor Avenue community members will meet again in preparation for a third hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 12. Tirabasso thanked Citicare Ambulette for once again donating a bus to bring residents to the hearing.

“What we saw at the BSA last week was a group of commissioners who saw eye-to-eye with the community when it comes to this project not fitting in with the surrounding neighborhood and potentially having a negative impact,” Vacca said.  “But this fight is far from over, and we’re focused on being just as prepared when we head back to the BSA for round three.”

Updated 5:26 pm, October 21, 2011
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