Cobble Hill

LPC to Fortis: Deck the Wall with Boughs of Holly

Cobble Hill Residents Scoff at ‘Strategically Planted Bush’

January 15, 2019 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved “with modifications” a fence surrounding a landmarked property at 347 Henry St. in Cobble Hill. Neighbors scoffed at the idea that the Japanese Holly must be permanently maintained as part of the approval. Rendering courtesy of Romines Architecture PLC

What started out as a 9-foot high brick wall turned into a 6-ish-foot fence covered with holly.

That’s the proposal the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved “with modifications” on Tuesday for a landmarked property at 347 Henry St. at Amity Street in Cobble Hill.

The property is part of Fortis’ luxury 5 River Park Development, part of the former Long Island College Hospital (LICH) site.

A 15-story tower is being built — as of right — on the part of the lot located outside the historic district. On the portion of the lot located within the historic district (with its 50-foot height restriction), Fortis plans to build a swimming pool, deck, outdoor shower and trellis, with landscaping and lighting.

And though the Commission ordered tweaks to the design — including the mandate that the building’s owner maintain the fence’s “vegetation” blocking the view of the yard — the approval still irritated some Cobble Hill residents, who scoffed at the idea that live holly was a permanent element.

Renderings submitted by Fortis show a solid wall of Japanese Holly blocking the view of the interior yard.

“When I come to you with renovations, I don’t come with a strategically planted bush [obscuring the view],” Cobble Hill resident Franklin Stone testified before the panel. “Future owners may not keep up that hedge.”

LPC staffer Mark Silberman said that “technically” the Commission should look at a street elevation without the hedge, but that wasn’t necessary as the developer agreed to maintain the greenery.

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Cobble Hill Association Corresponding Secretary Josh Vogel read a statement from CHA to the panel.

“The CHA opposes any items, such as the proposed trellis, outdoor kitchen, light poles, or outdoor shower that would be visible from the street. They are not appropriate and out of character for the historic district,” he said.

The final approved design evolved from a nine-foot-high brick wall along 49 feet of Amity Street sidewalk. After the wall was rejected unanimously by Community Board 6, elected officials and the Cobble Hill Association, Fortis went back to the drawing board. While the community pushed for a wrought iron fence as more fitting to the historic neighborhood, the plan architect Douglas Romines presented on Tuesday was for a steel fence.

The LPC told Fortis on Tuesday to substitute wrought iron fencing at the front of the property. They are also requiring the developer to turn a storage shed (shown in the rendering to the left) sideways to minimize its visibility from the street. The Commission didn’t rule on the proposed 10-foot high lighting.

“Really? LPC is going to get in the business of monitoring plantings?” Stone said after the decision to issue a Certificate of Appropriateness was finalized.

Following the decision, CHA said in a statement, “The CHA diligently worked with community members, our elected officials, Fortis, and Community Board 6 to ensure that the proposed perimeter structure on the Amity Street side of ‪347 Henry Street was appropriate for our historic district. A wrought iron fence is consistent with the character of the neighborhood, and we are pleased that both CB6 and the LPC approved it.”

The group added, “We are disappointed that this spirit of cooperation did not extend to the proposed open yard items, which Fortis did not give the CHA advanced notice of in any of our many conversations about today’s hearing. These items, including a trellis, ten foot high light poles and a swimming pool are not appropriate in our landmarked district, and we urge the LPC to reject them.”

Fence OK, Pool Not Certain

According to a letter from Councilmember Brad Lander’s Office to Pacific and Amity Street residents, the Buildings Department intends to revoke permission to build the swimming pool as proposed. An audit uncovered objections including its placement less than 100’ from the lot line. In addition, the proposed skylights and canopy are not permitted obstructions.

Fortis may continue working, but must resolve all objections prior to obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, according to the letter. Any work performed which does not confirm to code or zoning will have to be modified.

Hit Gas Line

A partial stop work order at the site was imposed by the Buildings Department on October 17 when the contractor hit a gas line, endangering workers, and FDNY was called. Fortis has failed to certify that it has corrected the situation, and civil penalties have been imposed, according to DOB.

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