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Building on the Entire Lot

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Building on the Entire Lot

Postby Cranky Tenant » Thu Sep 19, 2002 1:41 pm

For the past two years or so, they've been putting up a new eight story building that faces my apartment in the rear. Neighbors complained several times when they violated their work permits - beginning work at dawn and working on weekends. It's created an incredible amount of noise and filth, and my apartment seems to have less ventilation since construction began. The building occupies two lots.

I didn't think too much of it when they first began constructing what appeared to be a wall in the rear but I began to wonder when the "wall" got to be two stories high. Now it seems the "wall" is some kind of enclosure, with a roof, so that the structure occupies the entire lot.

Is it legal to build on the entire lot? I was under the impression that something like 20% had to be left open for ventilation. Is this worth persuing with the DOB?
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Re: Building on the Entire Lot

Postby peter » Thu Sep 19, 2002 5:12 pm

Whether the building can cover the entire lot or not depends on the zoning. In some zoning districts it is allowed.
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Re: Building on the Entire Lot

Postby Cranky Tenant » Thu Sep 19, 2002 9:33 pm

The two lots were previously a rowhouse and a parking lot, and there are both residential and commercial spaces. All of the buildings at this end of the block have backyard areas. Further up the block, there are buildings that may occupy most of the lot, but they seem to have alleyways so there's some airspace.

The new building is a bit strange because they've kept the facade covered for most of the time it's been under construction.
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Re: Building on the Entire Lot

Postby lappert » Wed Dec 04, 2002 8:18 pm

It does depend on the zoning. For example, if the underlying zoning is R8 (very common), if the street is on an avenue or on some cross streets it might have a C1-5 overlay, meaning the first floor can be commercial. In situations like this -- even with a rear yard or open space requirement -- they can often cover the entire rear lot up to 23 feet above grade. It's what known as a 'permitted obstruction.' The Buildings Dept uses this as a fiction. They claim the rear yard is still there, but it has a permitted obstruction. The idea is that the residents in the building above the commercial establishment have sufficient rear "yard" space -- the area above the permitted obstruction for things like egress, light and air. They all have to be above the 23 foot obstruction. As for distance between the obstruction and your building, generally a distance of about 12 feet might be sufficient. It's an undermining of the zoning/building rules, but they do seem to allow it. The real problem is when they put a HVAC system on top of the permitted obstruction. There are provisions that such systems must be reasonably quiet and a certain distance from adjacent windows.
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Re: Building on the Entire Lot

Postby Cranky Tenant » Thu Dec 05, 2002 1:26 pm

This is a relatively small sidestreet,. It's probably zoned for mixed use because it's primarily residential with a few small stores and restaurants.

The enclosure does appear to be around 23 feet high, or wo stories. It's black, takes up the entire ground floor, and there are no visible windows or doors. Maybe it's a garage?

Anyway, now that's it's almost winter and I can close the windows it's less annoying.
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