Board 7 Wants Sanitation Garage Out Of Flushing
Community Board 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty took issue with the city Departments of Sanitation and Citywide Administrative Services, which had filed a joint application to acquire property to allow continued operation of a Sanitation garage and lot cleaning annex in Flushing at Land Use hearings in Borough Hall last week. At the same hearings, an application for a change in use from office space to a restaurant and bakery outlet in Auburndale and another seeking to establish a commercial overlay in a residential district of Bayside drew comments from a member of Community Board 11.
Kelty pointed out that Board 7 had unanimously recommended disapproval of the application submitted by the two city departments at its June meeting. “We appreciate [the Department of] Sanitation’s problems with the Buildings Department and DCAS,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for 12 years to get our offices out of a basement. I know what they’re going through. But in 20 years they can’t find a place for a Sanitation garage?”
The garage is not the property of and is not used to service Board 7 equipment, Kelty pointed out. “It could be located anywhere,” he said. “In Board 7 we already have a salt dome and front-end loaders for the Sanitation Department. We have a marine transfer station for municipal waste. We have a lot of equipment for the borough and [Community] Board 11. We must rezone the area and make it residential so we don’t have an industrial park for Sanitation equipment.”
Kelty also pointed out the impact of traffic on the neighborhood where the garage now stands: 127-45 34th Ave., Flushing. “Sanitation trucks use 32nd Avenue all the time,” he said. “The trucks smell. Then we have congestion from Home Depot and Consolidated Edison. 37th Avenue is a parking lot for trucks now. We don’t need more. DCAS is the problem for letting this happen.”
Alexandra Rosa, chief of staff to Borough President Helen Marshall, said the borough president had scheduled a meeting with the Department of Sanitation and the community board to answer to a thorny issue. Rosa and Queens Director of Planning and Development Irving Poy presided at the hearings.
Also at the hearings, H. Irving Sigman on behalf of Barone Properties, Inc. applied to reopen and amend a previously granted variance to allow a change in use from approved office space to an eating and drinking establishment on the first floor of a building at 189-11 Northern Blvd., Auburndale. Sigman said the building is a three-story structure of brick and plaster with a basement. The eating and drinking establishment, a café with table space for 50 people, would occupy the ground floor and the two upper floors would each hold one apartment. Sigman said the first floor had originally been occupied by an accounting firm, which has vacated the space.
The restaurant which would occupy the space is owned by the operator of a bakery on Francis Lewis Boulevard. “No baking will be done on the premises and no hard liquor will be served,” Sigman said. He added that the restaurant also will not feature music or dancing and will not do catering. The restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Parking will be available across the street at a local shopping mall.
Although Community Board 11 recommended approval of the application by a vote of 35 in favor, five against and one abstention, James Rogers, a board member who is also a member of the Auburndale Civic Association, spoke in opposition to the application. “Barone [owner of Barone Properties] has been the worst landlord in Auburndale for the past 30 years,” he testified. “He and his tenants are bad neighbors. They had a Ryder Truck Rental operating there with no variance. He’ll metamorphose this site into a warehouse and distribution center. They can’t use the parking lot—it has to be dedicated to parking for the Pier 1 at the mall. The Auburndale community is opposed to any application with Barone’s signature on it.”
Sigman spoke in rebuttal of Rogers’ assertions, saying that Barone had hired a traffic consultant to ensure that the restaurant operations would not adversely impact the community. The property owner is also responding to comments and questions made in a letter by the chairman of community Board 11 to the Board of Standards and Appeals. Rosa pointed out that a supposedly abandoned car in a photograph of the site presented by Sigman belonged to Barone and that a fence that constituted a property boundary “is in a total state of disrepair.” She added, “There’s debris next to the fence and the property is poorly maintained. It looks atrocious.” Poy noted also that parking was restricted to patrons of Pier 1 and a neighboring Blockbuster video store. Sigman said he would raise the issues with the BSA and added that the restaurant proprietor had requested use of the parking facilities seven days a week.
Lawrence Avroch testified for himself in the matter of an application for a zoning map amendment establishing a commercial overlay in a residential district in an area bounded by Francis Lewis Boulevard, a line 220 feet northerly of the Horace Harding Expressway, a line 100 feet westerly of 201st Street and a line 150 feet northerly of the Horace Harding Expressway in Bayside. Community Board 11 recommended approval of the application with conditions at its June meeting by a vote of 32 in favor, eight against and one abstention.
The application has had a checkered history, having been withdrawn by the applicant several times. The applicant filed a new application limiting the 60- by 97-foot lot occupied by a medical building. The applicant’s hours will extend from 7 a.m. to midnight, garbage will be picked up between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and deliveries will be made between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Rogers again spoke about the application, saying that his group had found Avroch “very cooperative” and although in 1988 had “defended against the devil” to keep restrictive covenants concerning development in place, the association was willing to work with Avroch and met with developers over the site.
Guy Harding testified at the hearings on behalf of Oscar Franco and Ivan Duque for an application to reopen and extend the term of a special permit allowing an existing eating and drinking establishment with entertainment in a residential district with a commercial overlay at 81-03 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights. Community Board 3 recommended approval of the application by a vote of 36 in favor and two opposed at its June meeting. Objections had been raised concerning sports events broadcast on the establishment’s satellite television screens, Harding noted. “There’s a cabaret next door—it’s hard to keep party-goers away,” he said.
Rosa suggested that extra security be hired when the establishment shows satellite broadcasts of sports events. Harding replied that his clients would send a letter to that effect to the borough president’s office.