Residents crowded City Hall for a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on July 27 to protest a developer’s revised plan to build a five-story apartment building on Shore Road.
The meeting lasted several hours, as lawyers, real estate brokers and architects offered their input, and residents — many of whom live in Parker Deauville, an apartment complex at 522 Shore Road — voiced their concerns about how the project would benefit the city, as well as surrounding buildings. Some said they were worried about parking and traffic, and whether there would be enough room for emergency vehicles and garbage trucks on a one-way street that serves as a snow emergency route.
The developer, Kamran Pourgol, is looking to build on an empty 8,000-square-foot lot on the 500 block of Shore Road that residents said has been empty for about 40 years. Scott Kemins, commissioner of the city’s building department, said that the space is zoned for a two-family dwelling or two one-family homes.
The building would have eight units and include a side yard and rooftop recreational space, according to Janice Shea, an attorney representing the developer. Each unit would measure about 1,300 square feet and would cost $320,000 to build. They would sell for about $500,000, Shea added, and the developer would see a 15 percent profit.
The apartments would sit atop a federally regulated, single-level parking garage with 18 spaces, Shea said — four more spaces than required by the city’s zoning code. She added that the apartments would generate $80,000 in property tax revenue per year.
The meeting came amid a growing movement against perceived overdevelopment in the city. Over the years, residents have referred to the row of high-rise buildings on East Broadway and Shore Road as the “Chinese wall.”
“We don’t want Long Beach to continue to build a wall going across our shorefront,” said Adam Finkelstein, a lawyer representing the residents of Parker Deauville, adding that the development would create privacy issues for them. “This is something that this board should seriously consider rejecting. … You’re going to hear from people who are going to be living with this well after the developer cashes out and leaves us with the remnants of this project.”
Finkelstein and other opponents of the project presented the board with two petitions with a total of about 270 signatures.
Dina Fiore, a resident representing Long Beach Neighbors Against Overdevelopment, said the project would not fit in with the neighborhood, and that anyone who planned to build should comply with existing zoning codes.
“It’s ludicrous to consider this proposal,” said Kevin Leatherman, a real estate broker and a former Parker Deauville resident.
Others echoed his sentiments. “Because our grandfathers could never have anticipated the growth and overpopulation in old zoning applications,” Long Beach resident Susan Greene wrote in a letter to the zoning board, “we are left to deal with the situation as it exists.”
The developer originally submitted a proposal to the board in February, but it was denied because of multiple zoning code violations. “…We went back to the drawing board and revised our plans to try to minimize and take away some variances,” Shea said, adding that her team had not yet submitted the proposal to the building department, and was only presenting it at the meeting for “informational purposes.”
Kemins said he had not seen the revised plans, and didn’t know when the board would vote on the project.
The revised plans request five variances, Shea explained. The first is a reduction of the minimum lot area for a multiple-family dwelling. A second variance focuses on lot coverage: The city code allows a building to cover a maximum of 20 percent of a lot, but the proposed building would covering 37.5 percent.
The third requested variance deals with side yard space. The developer plans to allocate 15 feet on either side of the building for side yards, but city officials said earlier this year that more space would be required. “We’re questioning that determination,” Shea said.
Additionally, city code prohibits parking within 15 feet of a side yard, Shea said, but the proposed parking garage would be right on the property line, similar to two neighboring parking lots.
The developer added a screened recreational area on the roof of the building to comply with city code, a feature that was not included in the original proposal. “We will not be asking for a variance on recreational space if the building inspector agrees that we provide sufficient recreational area,” Shea said.
The project will move forward only if the variances are approved, she added, after zoning board Chairman Rocco Morelli asked about the conditions. “As soon as the plans are finalized,” Shea said, “we’ll be re-submitting.”