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BSA hears Astor Avenue variance

Dozens of residents were full of excitement and hope as they shuffled onto the buses ready for the fight to preserve their community from the proposed medical facility.

The Board of Standards and Appeals hearing, held at 40 Rector Street in Manhattan on Tuesday, September 22, opened with an address by a representative of the applicant concerning the proposed 9,996 square-foot building.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca, Joe McManus of Community Board 11, and a representative of Senator Jeff Klein joined residents in relaying their concerns and opposition for the project.

“Our main argument was that this development is totally out-of-context with the community,” said Vacca. “We are going to continue to urge the BSA to reject these plans outright.”

Residents spoke of the potential impact additional traffic would have on their community and on Engine 97, the environmental impact, waste management concerns, the need for maintaining green space, and concern for the unknown potential tenants.

After listening to each speaker, the BSA requested clarification on several issues they felt were relevant to the special permit application, including the submission of a traffic study and to explore the possibility of relocating the 20-parking spaces closer to the building to allow for more than the required 4-foot barrier between the lot and adjacent backyards.

“We will provide some traffic information and are also going to look into revising the plan for the parking area to provide more green space. We are looking to make best situation possible,” said Adam Rothkrug, representing LAL Astor Avenue Management LLC, of which les Lerner is the president. “The neighbors probably understand, but may not appreciate, what zoning would permit. It could be a school with no parking four times the size that occupies the entire rear yard. We realize and I think the BSA realized that what we are proposing is not as bad as what could be constructed there.”

The next hearing will is scheduled for Tuesday, November 10. The residents will continue to meet in preparation for round two.

“I felt our concerns were heard by the BSA and they in tern questioned the applicant on several key issues,” said Frank Tirabasso. “We had a brainstorming session and we went over our next steps to respond to boards request for additional information and how we could rebuttal our concerns.”

“The community expresses its gratitude to Citicare for donating buses to take residents down to the hearing,” said Anjali Kochar, Eastchester Avenue resident. “I think it showed the commitment of the entire community on all levels. It shows our commitment to fighting this.”

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