Work on a new synagogue on 60th Street was halted by the city after a neighborhood watchdog group discovered that the developers were planning to build a structure taller than current zoning allows, along with other violations within the building code.
The Department of Buildings blocked construction of the building, Congregation Tefiloh Ledovid, which is rising on a vacant lot near 21st Avenue, in July after neighbors lodged 18 complaints.
The year-old “Neighborhood Preservation Group” claims its members made the calls.
“In this case, the department disapproved the permit application after raising objections over non-compliance with the building code,” said Kate Lindquist, a Buildings Department spokeswoman.
According to Lindquist, the blueprints failed to demonstrate that sprinklers would be installed in the cellar, that exit signs would be put up, that the building would have handicap access, and that the walls would have the correct fire rating.
Also, the synagogue would have been 45 feet, a violation of the 33-foot height limitation.
“They wanted to do a lot of things in that building, but we smoked them out,” said Natalie DeNicola, a resident of 61st Street, and an organizer of the group.
DeNicola says the group, which is comprised of 85 families, wants to prevent illegal construction in Bensonhurst. DeNicola and others say is building outside of code is rampant in the area as builders rush to construct much-sought housing.
She claims that her members made the 311 calls that got the project shut down, though this claim could not be verified because the city’s 311 system is anonymous.
The group, which meets every other month at St. Athanasius, a Bay Parkway church, was also responsible for getting a “stop work” order on four homes along 61st Street, from 18th Avenue to 21st Avenue.
“Quality of life is changing and we don’t want that to happened,” said Joe Oliva, a resident for 61st Street for over 77 years, and avid member of the group.
The owner of the synagogue declined to comment.
©2007 Community News Group
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