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CB18 approves variance for synagogue expansion

CB18 gives synagogue support as it tries to raise its roof by three stories

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A Nostrand Avenue synagogue and education center got the go-ahead for its plans to add three additional stories to its building from Community Board 18 on Wednesday night, despite the impassioned pleas of nearby residents and a recommendation from Marine Park Civic Association to oppose the synagogue’s expansion.

“I’m very disappoint­ed,” said Marine Parkway resident Jose Salce, who lives directly behind the expanding religious center. “Since we got there, it looked like everybody had already made up their mind.”

The synagogue, Yeshiva Ohr Yisroel, sits between Madison Place and Marine Parkway and is currently seeking variances through the Board of Standards and Appeals that would allow it to build up its facility from two stories to five, and expand its existing floor area from 4,228 square feet to 27,200 square feet.

The third- and fourth-floor expansions will be used as classroom space for roughly 80 students attending grades nine through 12, and the fifth floor will be used as gym and recreation space.

Proponents argue that the synagogue is currently bursting at the seams, and that Nostrand Avenue is already littered with businesses and large apartment buildings, including one directly across the street that, at seven stories, would still dwarf the religious center’s planned expansion.

“This facility happens to be on Nostrand Avenue, where there’s several six or seven story apartment buildings,” said Judah Lieberman, who has a son attending ninth-grade classes at another nearby building affiliated with the synagogue. “Given the large buildings on the other side of the street, I don’t think it’s going to have a negative impact on Marine Park.”

Nearby residents, however, bemoaned the five-story synagogue as a “monstrosity.”

“The plan of an expansion of a 5,000-square-foot building to 27,000 square feet is daunting. When new construction of ‘monstrosity’ size takes place, as some have referred to it, it will affect existing structures around it,” read a letter sent to the community board by Marine Parkway residents Jose and Letizia Salce.

The complaints are myriad, concerning everything from parking and traffic, to air conditioners that will pollute the air and the synagogues towering heights, which opponents say will blot out the sun.

“It would block the sun, I wouldn’t have privacy. I couldn’t go in my back yard and be free to open my doors, and that’s one of the reasons we bought this house, because we feel free there,” said Merina Avsjukevich, who lives behind the synagogue on Marine Parkway. “Instead of hearing birds, you’ll hear air conditioners running all day and there will be additional pollution.”

Lieberman admits that the synagogue’s expansion will affect people living in the nearby vicinity, but he criticized people who live in other parts of the neighborhood coming to protest its plans, likening them to rabble-rousers.

“I think there are people who are concerned about Marine Park as a neighborhood, but who are not in close enough proximity to be impacted by it,” he said. “Someone on Kimball Street shouldn’t be concerned about parking on Nostrand Avenue. It’s good to be concerned about your neighborhood, but not when it comes to rabble-rousing about something that needs to expand.”

“To make an omelet you have to break a few eggs,” he added, “and its just unfortunate when you’re the egg.”

But Avsjukevich says just the opposite, saying the whole neighborhood will be affected by this so called “monstrosity.”

“It was presented like only a handful of people would suffer from it, which is the biggest lie I’ve ever heard,” she said. “It’s not just two families that will be affected, the whole neighborhood will be affected.”

The Board of Standards and Appeals will make its decision whether or not to award the synagogue its variance after it receives the community board’s letter of approval, although it seems likely that they will accede to the synagogue’s request, according to Community Board 18 District Manager Dorothy Turano.

“Basically once these things get passed by BSA to our desk, they’ve basically already approved it,” she said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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Reader Feedback

Shaun from Marine Park from Marine Park says:
Hi, I'm the "rabble-rouser". True, I live on Kimball Street but I am still a resident of Marine Park and have been for over 40 years.

Funny how I'm being viewed as a rabble-rouser when all I was doing AS A MEMBER of the MARINE PARK COMMUNITY was voicing my opinion. I was under the impression that the meeting was being held so that "BOTH SIDES" would be allowed to voice their views either in favor of issuing the "VARIANCE" for the building or not. The VARIANCE is needed because under current guidelines the size of the building construction proposed is not authorized.

The FACT that the discussion about the variance was started with a statement from Dorothy that she is from or knows the area well and that parking was of no concern was absolutely unethical. Dorothy DOSE NOT live in Marine Park, she lives in Mill Basin and has lived there for many years now.

Seeing as the meeting was started with a statement that dismissed "some residents" concerns was just the beginning of what turned out to be a sham of a meeting. Dorothy's bias against the opponents of the building continued throughout the meeting. She without any regard for decorum, decency and fairness interrupted opponents of the plan on numerous occasions.

To call someone a rabble-rouser because they disagree with you is a joke. By ignoring the opponents of the plans concerns in such a rude, disrespectful and unethical manner in what was suppose to be an open meeting I'm afraide had created quite a rift in the community.

For I truly believe that had both parties been allowed to voice their concerns, listen to one another's concerns and be treated fairly that a compromise could have been made.

Not everyone would have been happy but at the very least members from both sides could have agreed to something. Why would the Rabbi or any of his congregation sit down and compromise after they heard the "OPENING STATEMENT" of the CB 18 lady Dorothy dismissing one of the major concerns of the argument.

Thank you,

"the Rabble-Rouser" Shaun from Marine Park
March 23, 2013, 12:24 pm
Jose Salce from Marine Park says:
As a first time attendant to the Community Board 18, I felt blind-sided by Dorothy Turano opening statement. She started by supporting the variance to the BSA to allow a construction of a 5 story, 27000 sq. ft and 934 occupancy building on Marine Park. She went saying that even though the current zoning does not allow such construction, many others like her do support it in our neighborhood. To my disbelief she does not live in our Marine Park community, which explains her indifference and disregard of statements made by REAL Marine Park residents. I thought the board was supposed to be objective and impartial instead of bias. And I thought Dorothy was supposed to take minutes instead of taking sides.
March 25, 2013, 11:57 am
The truth is from Marine Park says:
The truth is that it is intended to be a 5 story addition to the existing structure which explains the "monstrosity" concern of all neighbors not only a 3 story as it states in the article's title. How does this affect houses in the vicinity? Houses foundations and ground sinking in, which already happened to houses behind a similar project on Madison Place. Not to mention, the effects on underground pipes, air (dust and asbestos particles) and ground pollution (rodents, roaches yuck!), noise and traffic increase leading to an accident prone area that is already dangerous for pedestrians as it is. All of the above (and more) will be affecting quality of life and if we are to preserve life then let's reach a consensus! The truth is we live in a democracy where that
should not be an issue.
March 26, 2013, 5:26 pm
Andrew from MarinePark says:
“Yes” to all the above comments! Change in zoning was off the agenda, even though it’s a critical point! This change will make the residential area open to tall structures (please correct me if it’s wrong) that will completely reshape our neighborhood in a few years!
The Board decision really seemed predetermined, with MPCA recommendations completely disregarded. It was announced that opinions of people living beyond the radius of 400 feet, don’t matter at all, because they live “too far.” Close neighbors don’t count since they are considered to be the “unfortunate eggs” (see the article). What a sophisticated way to silence the people! Do you really believe that beyond that radius of 400 feet people will stop inhaling the polluted air? Will not face piles of garbage, clogged sewer systems, lack of parking? Do you really believe that the residents of the neighborhood will love to see Marine Parkway turning into a highly trafficked and dirty street, since it is not cleaned by the city? Do you believe that change in zoning will not bring adverse irreversible changes to the entire neighborhood? What a myopic vision of the situation!
March 30, 2013, 7:48 pm
Kristine from MarinePark says:
This is quite disturbing. I’d like to add an aspect that has not been touched upon. It’s amazing to me how the project management tries to manipulate numbers, stating that it will be for only 80 students when in fact the building will have occupancy of 934! These boys obviously need education. However, they already have two facilities!) why should there be the necessity of the extensive construction, changing zoning rules, and making other people’s lives miserable? There is already a dorm, a Synagogue, and three Yeshivas within two blocks of Nostrand Avenue. None of them violate zoning requirements, yet most of them worsen the quality of life, as mentioned by aggravated residents living close to those institutions.
The priority should be given to the people who LIVE HERE, PAY TAXES, AND REALLY CARE about the surroundings, instead of a handful of students who will spend only a fraction of their time in this area. The community board is here to support interest of all groups of people living in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, as it appeared in the meeting, although both sides spoke, only one was actually “heard”. We do not want to exercise our freedom of speech for the sake of speaking. We need our voices to be heard and lives respected.
March 31, 2013, 2:51 pm
Greg from Mp says:
Any updates?
Jan. 13, 2014, 2:45 pm

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