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Avella seeks halt to work on Whitestone homes

The beast in question is actually two two-family homes under construction on a single-family lot at the intersection of Francis Lewis Boulevard and 16th Avenue in Whitestone. The three-story structure towers above the neighboring homes, most of which are built to scale with existing R3-2 zoning laws, which allows one- and two-family homes.As workers hammered away on the site last Thursday, City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) stood out front with about 30 residents to protest against the large building."If you allow this type of building to go up, you're seriously changing the character of your neighborhood," Avella said.But even with a Department of City Planning proposal to rezone and with construction on the three-story building well underway, stopping construction may not occur in time. Avella said he will attempt to submit a Stop Work Order with the Department of Buildings to review the project."It's never too late, but it makes it that much harder when they're this far along," Avella said.To make matters worse, Avella said the permits for the building define the project as residential units with two community facilities. He said the developer probably wanted to make a place for a business, but zoning would not allow it, so the company likely opted for a community facility."There's no commercial overlay in this area," he said. "But in the plans it's called a community facility, not a commercial facility. It's a loophole."Meanwhile, the next-door neighbor to the project said she is fearful to even leave her home. While Vilma Stepcich was watering her flowers that morning, a piece of plywood fell from the third story of project, over the plywood fence separating her home from the site and landed about 10 feet away from her, taking a chunk out of one of her concrete steps."It could have killed me if it hit me," she said. "It's too big. It's dangerous. They should not be allowed to put it there."Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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