Mega-Developer Rybak Approved To Extend His Manhattan Beach Home With Special Zoning Permit

Photo screenshot from Google Maps.
Photo screenshot from Google Maps.

The big-name developer Sergey Rybak’s Manhattan Beach home, at 239 Beaumont St, was the center of debate at the Community Board 15 meeting last night.

Rybak filed for a special permit to go beyond the zoning variance of the floor ratio of the property. What he hopes to do is increase the floor ratio to .908, nearly double the permitted maximum floor area ratio, which is .50. In other words, he is hoping to take 5,449 square feet of a 6,000 square foot lot.

The house won’t be extending forwards or backward, a new floor will be added to the top. The property will still be under the city’s zoning limit for height in that area, according to Rybak’s lawyer, Eric Palatnik.

“You’re not asking for a variance, you’re asking for an ovation. You want to kill the zoning laws that we have in place and build a new neighborhood. This is a developer,” said an angry woman who lives in the area at the meeting. “A developer knows the laws and knows the zoning ordinances. Had he wanted to build a property of 6,000 feet, he should have bought a 120×100 house and built what he wanted. Why is he changing the character of my neighborhood?”

Her livid monologue incited applause from the packed crowd. She angrily stormed out of the meeting after the board approved the special permit with a 34-3 vote.

“One of the things that unfortunately has not been considered is that zoning requirements may need to evolve,” said Maurice Kolodin at the meeting. “The character of a neighborhood is very important but the question is what character from each neighborhood are we really looking at. Are we looking from yesterday? Today? Or tomorrow?”

“Everything isn’t just static. In the case of the homeowner, it is someone [Rybak] who has shown a great interest in our district and has tried to be positive for the district,” said Kolodin. “It doesn’t mean he gets a free pass but these things need to be considered.”

Other than the floor area ratio, everything else is per zoning requirements, according to the permit application, and Palatnik.

“The special permit is like a driver’s license. Your driver’s license is actually called a special permit; when you get it, it’s called a learner’s permit. It’s actually a special permit,” said Palatnik. “Just because I get my license, doesn’t mean that you’re not entitled to your license.”

He continued to flesh out the driver’s license analogy, which incited groans from the audience.

“Just because I have a car and my daughter gets her license doesn’t mean I’m changing America’s roadways,” said Palatnik. “Mr. Rybak, you, and everyone in district 15 is entitled to make this request.”

The concerns kept getting hurled at Palatnik, causing him to take a firm stance in defending Rybak and the plans for his home.

“Let’s be clear. I’m taking a little offense, only because you’re characterizing him as if he’s trying to defy a law or do something improper when he’s probably one of the most law-abiding developers and builders in the city of New York,” said Palatnik before the permit went to a board vote.

After the vote of approval, the woman who originally voiced her hard-fought objection to the permit interrupted the meeting with another angry outburst.

“Every single person in here, some of which don’t live in Manhattan Beach, are voting for us and disregarding our input. They had their decisions made before I made my objection,” she said. “So explain to me why I took a half hour out of my day, thinking, stupidly, that my position counts.”

Ronald Tawll, the first vice-chairperson of the board, then explained to her that this is the process of the community board and that each member was appointed by the borough president or members of the city council. She then asked who the city council member of the district is, before leaving.

Rybak is the developer behind many developments happening in and around Sheepshead Bay such as the large condominium building that is going up on Emmons Avenue.

[Correction, 1:00pm, October 27]: It was previously stated in the headline that Rybak is going beyond zoning laws. With the special permit that was approved by CB15 last night, however, he is within the law. We don’t want to make him out to be a criminal. Also, it was previously stated that the vote was unanimous. However, the vote was 34-3. Changes have been made to reflect this.


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