Wallace Court project under construction


On a quiet street of residential houses at Wallace Court and Payan Avenue, there once stood a neglected house at Wallace Court 1—a sad sight for residents and neighbors alike. Windows were smashed, plywood was torn off and leaned against the house, fallen tree branches strewn across the lawn. But the dilapidated property has since been razed to make room for construction of an altogether different neighborhood outlier: two twin apartment complexes with 12 townhouses, developed by the Cedarhurst-based Paramount Construction.
With framing construction now under way, the skeleton of the building, known as Parkside, casts a towery presence on the house next door. Tammy Taylor, the next-door neighbor to the property, does not “anticipate any issues” or problems short of coping with the inconvenience of the loud construction noises. But nearby residents have voiced their concerns against the alteration of their neighborhood.
“I think they’ve known all along what they’ve wanted to do there,” Wallace Court resident Michael Fucello told the Herald in a phone interview. “I don’t mind apartment buildings here and there, but it’s the wrong block for it. Not just because it’s my block.”
 The village board of trustees first voted to change the lot’s zoning in April 2017 to allow for a commercial parking expansion — a change from RA to CX zoning. A public hearing was subsequently scheduled in November that year to review the proposal for the construction of what was initially planned to be a 28-unit apartment complex on the property and a possible zoning change from a CX to a CA zone, or parcels with multiple-family townhouses, condominiums, cooperatives and apartments.
After public outcry at a public hearing in January 2018, the developers agreed to downsize the project from 28 to its current 12 units and change them from apartments to townhouses. In May 2018, after village officials listened to more than two hours of residents’ concerns about the project, the board unanimously approved a zoning variance from CX to CA.

Resident Michael Belfiore, who served a single term on the village board in the 1990s, sparred with the village over questions of spot zoning. It’s a term that refers to the practice of singling out small parcels of land for purposes different than that of the neighboring area, often to the benefit of the developer at the cost of the public. Belfiore contended that it was the intention of the village to turn the property from an RA to CA floating zone from day one when in June 2016 the developer requested the zoning change. And by October of that year, according to Belfiore, all relevant parties realized they had to first change the zoning from an RA to CX zone before changing it to an CA in order to receive the village’s OK. But the zoning property chosen by developers, he said he believes, was never intended to accommodate high-density apartments.
Mayor Ed Fare has repeatedly rejected charges of spot zoning, arguing that the proposal was not at odds with the current zoning restrictions, since the Wallace Court property abuts commercial property and is near two other apartment complexes — the Charles J. Monica Senior Village and the Ballard Avenue apartments.
“Spot zoning is like if we decided to bulldoze four houses and put an apartment,” he told the Herald. “Not the case.”
Construction of the Parkside complexes will continue throughout the year.