East Bronx nabes, fed up with the city Department of Buildings approving developers’ plans for projects that wind up violating local zoning regulations, are finally doing something about it.
After Senator Jeff Klein secured his services, members of the Waterbury LaSalle Community Association and Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s office will be working with a Bronx architect to review select filings from Pelham Bay and Schuylerville, and possibly also from Throggs Neck and around Williamsbridge Road, said WLCA board member Andrew Chirico.
Architect Boaz Golani said that he may soon take a tour of development sites where the community has raised objections in the past.
“Over the years, Waterbury LaSalle residents have raised concerns surrounding overdevelopment in our community,” said Klein.
“Having a licensed architect meet with local leaders and decode prospective building plans can only help inform our community on the possible impact of new developments and help ensure that all new projects are following building guidelines and procedure,” said Klein.
Number of concerns
Golani said that after speaking to community members, it became clear that concerns existed about zero-lot-line building (right on the property line), crowding, desires for back and side yards on new buildings, infrastructure being overloaded, and street parking.
“I think there is a concern here is that there is no provision for infrastructure for a growing population,” he said. “They feel that if they are building two or three family homes, there should be infrastructure provisions for the new population, which I think makes sense.”
Other concerns, like creating incentives for construction of single family houses or an end to lot line building, would require changes in the zoning modifications, he said.
Development of single family homes, instead of multi-family apartment buildings, could shore up the community’s social and economic fabric, indicated Chirico.
Councilman Jimmy Vacca has proposed changes that might ameliorate some of the zero-lot-line building issues. He has a plan to make the side space requirements in different variations of R-5 zones to apply to all R-6 and R-7 zones.
However, there may still be a ‘loophole’ or other rules that allow zero-lot line building in certain circumstances, even in those zones.
Reviewing new DOB filings is key, especially after several slip-ups in Pelham Bay last summer, some discovered by Vacca, where projects had been approved by DOB without parking requirements being satisfied.
Vacca said that he looks at new DOB filings online for the communities he represents about three times a week, and said that he will often flag projects that do not appear to comply with zoning.
He said he has been able to get modifications to building plans that added parking spaces to developments at Buhre Avenue and Bruckner Blvd. in 2013.
“The more people that look into this, the merrier,” he said.
DOB did not comment as of press time.
To look into public filings for projects in your area, go to www.nyc.gov/html/dob/html/bis/bis.shtml and type in the address of the project.