Vacca to builder: park this!

Vacca to builder: park this!
Building looks like it could be right to the property line on one side of the project at 3064 Buhre Avenue. On Buhre Avenue, the project is zoned R-7, allowing “zero-lot-line” building. On Jarvis Avenue, the zoning is R-5, which requires space between buildings. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Some zoning giveth, and some taketh away.

In this case, a developer who plans to erect an apartment building up against a private home – as of right – will still have to make room for ten parking spaces.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca got the Department of Buildings to make a U-turn and make sure that the Pelham Bay developer provides the spaces for a six-story 20-unit building at Jarvis and Buhre avenues.

The developer of the building at 3064 Buhre Avenue also has plans for a medical treatment “community facility” on the first floor, according to DOB documents.

Vacca said that Paulin Lumaj tried to skirt putting in any parking spaces, since under Pelham Bay’s Lower Density Growth Management zoning, they are not required for the medical facility.

DOB, however, changed its initial waiver, said Vacca, and ruled that the parking spaces are required for the residential portion of the building.

“He can only use that waiver once for the same building, which is what we maintained,” said Vacca. “He now has to provide 10 parking spaces and he has got to redesign the project.”

After weeks of wrangling, Vacca was able to get the DOB to put the project “on hold” as of Friday, June 28 after it was initially approved by the DOB on Tuesday, June 4. Then on Monday, July 1, a DOB audit resulted in a Notice to Revoke the permit for the construction.

A man answering a phone at Lumaj’s listed office said he had no comment on DOB actions.

During an earlier site visit while work was underway, a man who said he was the developer told a reporter that he wanted to make it “like in Manhattan.”

The project also joins a growing list of new construction in Pelham Bay using zero-lot-line building.

This can put an apartment building literally against a private house, blocking in windows and exhaust systems.

A woman at 3066 Buhre Avenue, next door to a similar situation, declined to comment.

Patty Justiniano, owner of a house at 3525 Bruckner Blvd. that had 10 windows walled-in because of a neighboring property lot-line development, was aghast when told of the Buhre Avenue project.

“I just don’t understand how they are letting this happen,” she said.

Community Board 10 chairman John Marano is now calling for a zoning amendment requiring at least three feet of space between any existing building and new construction.

Currently, in an R-7 zone, a builder is within his rights to build up to the property line, he said, adding that parking spaces in the community are already scarce.

“The parking is disastrous over there, just like anywhere in the community,” said Marano. “The problem is that we have all these agencies handing out permits like water.

“They don’t reach out to the community board and elected officials to see if there are issues in the neighborhood,” he added.

The 3064 Buhre Avenue project should be made smaller if that is what it takes to accommodate 10 spaces, said Anita Valenti, president of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association.

Lucian Sperta, who has lived across the street for 13 years, said that it was an “awkward spot” to build a 20-unit building.

“Just look at all the buildings we have already,” he said. “It would have been better to put a row of houses there because it would match a row of houses down the block on Jarvis Avenue.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3393

More from Around NYC