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Flushing neighbors blast new house on block

The new house has been built on a block of townhouses, which were constructed in the 1930s. Photo by Alex Robinson
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Flushing neighbors are fuming over a large house they say dwarfs the small homes around it and completely changes the character of their block.

The two-story house, which has been under construction since the fall at 146-15 56th Road, will replace a one-story dwelling that was built in 1935 in a row of townhouses.

“It has destroyed the neighborho­od,” said Jose Fernandes, who has lived next door to the site of the new house for more than 22 years. “If they got permits to do that, what stops others?”

A number of community leaders and civic organizations have joined the residents to speak out against the building, which they say is one example of a wider problem that affects the whole borough.

“It’s getting more and more egregious,” Don Capalbi, president of the Queensboro Hill civic Association, told Community Board 7 at a February meeting. “If it’s not addressed now with the new City Council and new mayor, it won’t happen in the next 10 years.”

After the frustrated neighbors contacted him, Capalbi alerted CB 7, which forwarded the complaints to the city Department of Buildings. The agency said the development was completely legal and there was nothing it could do to prevent it from being built.

The new house’s owner, Min Lin, who bought the property in August, said her home’s construction has followed all city rules and zoning laws.

“I wish we could be on the same page. I think at this time there’s nothing I can do to change,” she said. “I think the neighborhood is changing anyway. There are many houses like this.”

Once finished, the 2,290-square-foot house will be more than double the previous home’s size of 899 square feet former size, according to DOB permits.

Lin said she needed to rebuild the home because she has a large family to accommodate. She said she expects construction to be done in the spring.

Apart from changing the character of the neighborhood, Fernandes said the front of the new house blocks off his sunlight for a large part of the day.

“I am planning seriously on moving out of here,” he said. “I already had plans to move away to be closer to my daughter in Nassau County, but not as fast as I’m thinking now.”

Fernandes said he is not alone, as the development has triggered what he described as a mass exodus from the block. The neighbor on the other side of the development, Jacek Taper, who has lived in his house for 10 years, is also considering putting his house up for sale.

“The neighborhood I moved into now looks completely different,” he said. “I can’t do anything. My only option right now is to sell the house and move out.”

Two other houses have been put up for sale since the building’s construction started, Taper said.

Councilman Peter Koo’s (D-Flushing) office will be bringing the issue to the Department of City Planning in the hope of getting a rezoning approved.

“I will not stand idly by while the character of our neighborhood is threatened by out-of-scale development,” Koo said. “I will be meeting with the Department of City Planning soon to discuss this issue and to explore all possible options, including rezoning, to prevent instances like this from becoming unsightly patterns in our community.”

Koo’s chief of staff, Jonathan Chung, worked on a similar situation when he was employed at then-Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.’s office. A number of large developments in Astoria prompted Vallone’s office to seek a special rezoning for the neighborhood in 2010.

The rezoning for the neighborhood was approved by the City Council in May 2010 and would “preserve the existing scale and character of the area while allowing for a modest increase in residential and commercial density in appropriate limited locations,” according to the City Planning website.

Chung said Koo’s office might push for a similar change in order to dissuade developments that are out of character with the neighborhood.

“If we let another 10 years go by until the next census, God knows what damage will be done,” Capalbi said. “From a developer’s point of view, one successful project opens the door to the next.”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

anon from queens says:
Koo..... all of your fellow Asians are doing the same thing all over the place. These flushing residents obviously haven't been to bayside. This Lin person said she has "a big family " to accommodate.....in other words "my family is coming here from China and they will be 4 different families and I'm going to stick them in this claim to be "two family house"" ........blame ins and Obama for not tightening the amount of visas they hand out!
Feb. 21, 2014, 6:07 am
P from from merrick blvd says:
people are losers wwith nothing else to do with their time then to complain a bout a house on the block that doesnt match the rest smh...they obviously dont have jobs..theres ppl with crime and drugs on their blocks and these ppl complain about a house because its bigger than theirs..WTF!? joe moretti whats your thoughts on it?
Feb. 21, 2014, 9:38 am
Kim Ohanian from Queensboro Hill says:
As someone who worked on the re-zoning of this neighborhood for many years, I am very disturbed that this can still happen. City Planning promised us years ago that they would close the loopholes that the rezoning created, but they still have not. Larger density homes in small residential areas create numerous problems such as; sanitaion, traffic congestion, parking, pollution, overcrowded schools, etc. People work hard to buy and maintian homes in an area that they want to live in. No one, should be allowed to threaten and destroy anyone's elses quality of life.
Feb. 21, 2014, 1:15 pm
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
Why not just wait till all the damage is done before doing anything, because that is how it seems Queens is handling this BS.

When Queens had a chance to stop this nonsense the leaders choose to do nothing. Now the majority of destruction has already been done and NOW you want to do something. Makes no sense to me.

This issue is way more than a house not matching other houses, this is serious issue with zoning, that allows this to happen. I have seen this happen way too often and more than likely this will be more than a 1 family house no doubt, which causes overcrowding of communities, burdens on infrastructure, parking issues, garbage issues, etc. If this person wanted a big house for the family, then buy a big house instead of buying a small one family house, tearing it down and building something that destroys the esthetics of the community.

It is this careless type of zoning that allows a thug auto body shop in a residential area (http://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/st-albans-thug-auto-chop-shop-takes-over-streets-and-threatens-residents/).

So P from from merrick blvd, I do have a big issue with this, because I have seen what has happened when this was allowed all in several blocks of community and the many problems that have been created by this. And of course people when then move from that block and then what happens is more crap like that gets built and a once nice community is destroyed and problems arise, quality of life problems.

http://cleanupjamaicaqueens.wordpress.com/
Feb. 22, 2014, 11:59 am
Nils from Queensboro Hill says:
That lady is going to rent out the whole house and basement claiming that's her family. Just like most houses in the neighborhood rent out basements and garages for illegal immigrants. And then we all need to suffer with traffic, garbage and overcrowded schools.
Feb. 22, 2014, 3:47 pm
noneyas from UES says:
Looks like a good neighborhood for buy and tear down renovation filps. Thanks for the heads up.
Feb. 24, 2014, 5:40 pm
Nick from Queensboro Hill says:
Last year there was a movie scene shot on this particular block. It resembled the move plot form 1950s with single family houses and beautiful front lawns. The damage is done. I blame the NYC Department of Planning and DOB. There is no plan. How they can build something like this legally???
Nobody in their right mind would give permission for something like this. The building should be demolished and the architect who designed it should be stripped from his license.
This is sad.
https://www.google.com/maps/@40.745651,-73.820392,3a,75y,25.5h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sB_T-mkGocWq_kJFstLAcWg!2e0
Feb. 25, 2014, 11:47 am
GY from Flushing, NY says:
What is the review process for permits, this house has been altered to protrude farther out than its attached neighbors. Such an alteration on this block does not conform to the alignment of the neighboring units, recess distance from the street and sidewalk, and the protection of sunlight for the neighboring units, as well as consideration of entrance / front lawn clearance for neighboring housing units. There is no question that the change is inappropriate for this group and this block on a residential street.
How are such permits being approved, and what is the criteria for this approval, that is the question that needs to be answered.
March 4, 2014, 3:16 pm
Vladmir from Flushing says:
P from from merrick blvd,

If you think architecture has no meaning, and does not have an effect on the lives of the people living in a neighborhood, you should move to Russia - Putin has suitable housing avalable for you. You deserve to live there.

I am proud to live in America now - seems to mean nothing to you.
March 7, 2014, 1:33 am
Jayson from NYC says:
It's not just the Chinese but the Jews as well who build these mini mansions.
Aug. 21, 2015, 5:53 pm

Comments closed.

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