Bullet Points: CB15 Says “No” To Brown Street Enlargement

BEFORE AND AFTER: 2801 Brown before construction began (Source: Google maps; 2801 Brown in a recent photo (Source: Community Board 15)
BEFORE AND AFTER: 2801 Brown before construction began (Source: Google maps; 2801 Brown in a recent photo (Source: Community Board 15)

Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Bunga-no! Community Board 15 voted last night to deny an application for a special permit to enlarge a single-family, one-story bungalow on Brown Street into a two-story residence, although much of the work appears to have already been completed.

According to the attorney representing the property, Alexander Levkovich, the owners of 2801 Brown Street are seeking to elevate the bungalow to comply with FEMA flood map recommendations. To do so, the attorney said, they’d have to see an increase in the permitted floor-area-ratio (FAR) – the formula used to determine how much square footage can be constructed on a given property.

But the attorney let slip seemingly contradictory statements that soured the Board’s opinion of the project.

A photo of the property was shared with the Board showing the property, which has already been elevated and a second story added. The lawyer stated that work “up until what’s been approved by the Department of Buildings” was completed, leaving boardmembers to wonder why a FAR waiver was needed since the building has already been raised.

Plans for the completed building (Source: Community Board 15) - Click to enlarge
Plans for the completed building (Source: Community Board 15) – Click to enlarge

Moreover, plans submitted with the application show more work adding height to the property. A diagram showed roof extensions yet to be added to the building.

Boardmember Ira Tepper questioned the attorney on whether the additional work, and thus the FAR waiver, was really being done to comply with FEMA recommendations or to allow for more living space.

“The construction that’s going on now is strictly for the FEMA code? Or is there also construction going on for what you’re asking for now?” asked Tepper.

“I’m not an expert in construction, but the building is being elevated to comply with FEMA,” reiterated Levkovich, the attorney.

“It’s a simple question: if you’re raising it to comply with FEMA, it’s all well and good,” Tepper said. “But in order to do all this work that you want to do, that would have to be done before you raise the building. So what’s going on there?”

The attorney could not answer.

The board voted 19-to-7 to reject the project, with two abstentions.

Boardmember Lenny Markh, who voted against the project, said the attorney appeared less than forthcoming about the purpose of the application.

“He had an entrance at grade level drawn into his plans, which is contrary to every flood resiliency design and doesn’t appear compliant [with FEMA guidelines],” Markh said, implying that compliance with FEMA recommendations was not the purpose of the enlargement.

Other zoning items:

  • 1807 East 22nd Street: The board voted unanimously to approve a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family home. The property owner sought to nearly double the house’s square footage, from 2,364 to 4,135 by bulking out the side and rear while shrinking those yards. At the same time, they plan to increase the size of its front yard.
  • 1824 East 22nd Street: This application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family home was approved by a vote of 26-to-1 with one abstention. The owner seeks to build a wraparound extension on the side and rear, increasing the square footage to 4,016, more than double the amount permitted by zoning. They will also add an attic.
  • 145 Girard Street: The Board approved a proposal to enlarge this Manhattan Beach home with a vote of 26-to-3. The enlarged home will occupy the same footprint on the lot, but all floors will be expanded to match that footprint, enlarging the total square footage to 6,234. The maximum permitted is 3,120 square feet, although the current structure measures 4,431 square feet.

Other notable information:

  • The Board voted to give a green light to Land o’ Fun, an arcade and amusement establishment slated for Coney Island Avenue that sought the Board’s support. Although the majority voted to give its blessing, a handful objected. Boardmember and Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association executive boardmember Al Smaldone asked if there would be metal detectors.
  • New York Rising will host its Sheepshead Bay / Gerritsen Beach presentation and public hearing at Amity School (3867 Shore Parkway) on February 27 at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will show off many of the projects planned for area resiliency.
The 61st Precinct saw only five less crimes in 2013 than in 2012, with an uptick in domestic violence incidents hampering reduction efforts. So far in 2014, crime is up, particularly for grand larceny, identity theft, auto break-ins, purse snatching and other property crimes.
  • The Board voted to support a request to do construction on sewer lines on Knapp Street.
  • Sunday, March 9, is daylight savings time and clocks should be set an hour forward. Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • There will be parking restrictions beginning on February 28 on Ocean Avenue and Avenue P, as the DOT begins construction on pedestrian safety measures.
  • The Board voted to send a letter of objection to various city agencies for their response to the Board’s stated budget priorities, including various infrastructure maintenance and improvement programs. Many of the agency’s responses did not address the concern, while others were simply dismissive. The Board is required to submit a list of district priorities annually, but Board leadership said the agencies regularly deny the requests made.
  • A representative for the Rider’s Alliance announced that they will soon host strategy meetings in the Sheepshead Bay area to help residents lobby the MTA for better mass transit service.


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