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Over two dozen complaints filed

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All is not peaceful on 93rd Street. As neighbors watch the construction at 219, questions fill their mind. Will it really be a one-family house? If it is, will it be in line with the considerably more restrictive revised zoning, which was lowered from R6 to R4-1 when Bay Ridge was rezoned a couple of years back? The level of unease can be measured by the number of complaints reported to the Department of Buildings (DOB). Since work began at the site, a whopping 29 complaints have been recorded by DOB. These complaints have resulted in a number of violations being written, five by DOB (four of which are still open; the other was dismissed), and seven by the Environmental Control Board (five of which are still open; the other two were cured). Indeed, there are currently three open ECB violations at the site for “work without a permit.” Other violations have been issued for work proceeding not in accordance with plans that had been filed with DOB, for a dumpster being left in the street without a permit, and for the lack of a construction fence. To make matters worse, from the residents’ point of view, repeated attempts to look at the plans filed with DOB have been unsuccessful., even though one of them actually hired an abstract company to get them for him, and another spent numerous hours at DOB’s office without success. Not only those who live on the block, but Community Board 10 and City Councilmember Vincent Gentile had been unsuccessful in accessing the plans, though earlier this week Gentile’s office reported that they had been told that the plans would be available for them to look at. So, those who have been pursuing the matter have had to read between the lines on DOB’s Buildings Information System (BIS), looking at such data as the number of washbasins (five) planned for the second floor of what BIS says is a one-family house. The concern, said block resident Mike King, is that, “Every house on that block is a one or two-family house. We don’t want to get a medical facility,” he told members of CB 10 gathered at Shore Hill, 9000 Shore Road, for the board’s January meeting, “and we’re afraid the gentleman who owns it is doing an end run around us.” King also noted that, before the zoning change, the property owner, Amr El Sanduby, had told neighbors that he planned to build a multifamily structure with a medical office on the site. “When there is a void, an absence of data, one thing is sure to result – rumor,” remarked Pamela Mahon, who appeared with King at the board meeting representing the Friends of 93rd Street. “If I were the new Brooklyn deputy commissioner, I would want to wrest control of rumor and make the new zoning code the reality on my watch.” “We’re a nation of rules and codes,” remarked Mahon, who lives next door to the site, in a subsequent interview. “The way we all get along is to keep to the same rule of law. That’s all we’re asking, to abide by the code we all must abide by. It really is distressing to see a beautiful community like Bay Ridge threatened by people who have no respect for the codes and city ordinances that we all must abide by for the sake of peace.” Given the concerns voiced by block residents, CB 10 had asked DOB to do another on site inspection, even before the board meeting. Josephine Beckmann, CB 10’s district manager, said that, at one point, Sanduby had come into the office and told her, “I know the residents are upset, and I’m going to comply with the zoning. “His track record has not been the best,” Beckmann went on. “But, that’s not to say that the building being constructed now is not in compliance. It’s much bigger than what was there before, but that’s not to say it’s not in compliance. Verifying with DOB that the bulk is within the zoning is all we can ask for. It’s reasonable to ask questions, given the track record here.” Sanduby, an anesthesiologist at Victory Memorial Hospital, says he is building within the law and the codes. He told this paper that he is constructing a one-family home. The five sinks on the second floor, he said, include one in a small bathroom, one in a laundry room and three in the master bathroom. He said that he did not need separate demolition permits because, “Once you do an alteration, the demolition permit is considered part of the work.” Sanduby also said that his neighbors “are not making it easy,” by frequently complaining to DOB. “I’m not going to call it harassment,” he went on, “but it’s going to reach that level soon.” He said he had been issued “probably $25,000 in violations without a good cause.” In particular, he mentioned a violation he received for having a container at the curb without a permit. Sanduby also said that he couldn’t understand why his neighbors are so upset by the house he is constructing. “It’s raising the value of everybody’s house on the block, but people are not understanding this,” he contended. According to Kate Lindquist, a spokesperson for DOB, the agency is currently, “Auditing the applicant’s plans to modify the existing building.” Lindquist also said that, “The applicant was originally issued an Alt-2 permit. After receiving complaints of illegal demolition work underway at the site, the department stopped work at the site and issued several violations. It was later determined that the SWO (stop work order) could be lifted.”

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