2018-01-03 / Political Page

I On Politics

VALLONE, KATZ ANNOUNCE RESTRICTIVE DEED FOR EDGESTONE PROPERTY: Council Member Paul Vallone announced on December 26 that the Edgestone Group, owners of the waterfront site located at 151-45 6th Road, have filed a declaration with the City of New York that will permanently bind the development of the site to 52 detached single family homes in accordance with the 2008 special permit that was supported by elected officials, the community and civic leaders. Despite previous announcements and promises by the Edgestone Group to adhere to this development plan, there has been continued concern throughout the community that “as of right” development by Edgestone or the sale of the property would lead to over-development of the site. As a result, Charles Apelian, First Vice Chair of Community Board 7, reached out to Council Member Vallone and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz to obtain stronger protections in the form of deed restrictions.

With this declaration, the site has officially been bound with language stating “that at no time shall the development consist of more than fifty two detached single family houses.” Additionally, every deed that has been filed for the 52 homes includes identical restrictive language stating “that the Subject Property shall be held, sold, transferred, and conveyed, subject to the restrictions and obligations which are for the purpose of protecting the value and desirability of the Subject Property and which shall run with the land, binding the successors and assigns of [the Edgestone Group] so long as they have any right, title or interest in the Subject Property or any part thereof.”

“Our primary focus was to protect and stand with Whitestone with any new residential proposals. The filing by the owner pursuant to the Borough President’s and our request to permanently bind and protect the land as 52 single-family homes is a clear victory for anyone who has stood with us,” said Vallone. “These deed restrictions will last forever whether or not a future downzoning is approved.”

As an additional act of good faith, Edgestone President Anthony Hu has established an escrow account with $272,000 that will be used to pay for the first 10 years of expenses for a homeowners association that will be established for the 52 single-family homes. The homeowners association will be responsible for managing and monitoring compliance with the terms of the remedial program that was developed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“This deed restriction will go a long way toward assuring that future development at the Edgestone Group site will be bound by the original approved plan for this location,” said Katz. “Communities like Whitestone are part of what makes Queens a special place, so it was important for us as public officials to find a solution that stayed true to the original project and fit with the distinctive residential character of the surrounding Whitestone community.”

“The community of Whitestone and Community Board 7 are happy that Council Member Vallone and Borough President Katz were able to intercede and get a deed restriction for the Whitepointe property,” stated Joseph Sweeney, Member of Community Board 7. “This deed restriction will help secure the preservation of the community in Whitestone forever.”

SCHNEIDERMAN SUES TO PROTECT NY FROM OUT-OF-STATE AIR POLLUTION: NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of eight attorneys general, filed a lawsuit on December 26 against the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force action under the Clean Air Act to ensure upwind states adequately control the pollution that blows into New York and other downwind states.

At least one in three New Yorkers breathe air with unhealthy levels of smog pollution, with some analyses placing it as high as two in three New Yorkers (approximately 12.7 million people). The EPA’s own studies demonstrate that pollution from states upwind of New York contributes substantially to the state’s harmful levels of smog.

“Millions of New Yorkers are breathing unhealthy air as smog pollution continues to pour in from other states,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The federal government has a fundamental responsibility to act. Yet the Trump EPA has abandoned its responsibilities – repeatedly failing to act to control smog pollution that jeopardizes New Yorkers’ health. Attorneys general will continue to act to protect those we serve.”

Specifically, the suit challenges the EPA’s denial of a petition that New York and several other states filed in late 2013 for the agency to add nine additional states to the “Ozone Transport Region,” a group of states established under the federal Clean Air Act that must act in concert to reduce smog pollution within the Region.

Joining AG Schneiderman in the suit are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Reducing smog levels is vital to protecting the health of New Yorkers. Elevated levels of smog can cause a host of significant health effects, including coughing, throat irritation, lung tissue damage, and the aggravation of existing medical conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, and emphysema. According to the American Lung Association’s “2017 State of the Air Report,” the New York City metropolitan area ranks as the 9th most smog-polluted city in the nation.

Congress created the Ozone Transport Region to help states address pervasive smog problems in the northeastern United States. By statute, the Region consists of 11 states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont – and the District of Columbia metropolitan area.

In December 2013, New York and other northeastern states submitted a petition under the Clean Air Act asking the EPA to add nine additional states shown or projected through modelling and analysis to contribute to violations of federal smog standards in the Ozone Transport Region. These nine states are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. When the EPA took no action on that petition, a coalition of states led by Schneiderman filed suit against the EPA to compel it to act. Schneiderman and the coalition of states subsequently negotiated a consent decree that required EPA to approve or disapprove the petition no later than October 27, 2017. On that date, Trump EPA Administrator Pruitt denied the states’ Ozone Transport Region petition.

The December 26 suit, which was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asks the court to review Administrator Pruitt’s denial of the petition. The coalition will ask the court to determine that the denial is unlawful and to vacate it.

Each state within the Ozone Transport Region must develop and implement plans that achieve controls on pollutants that contribute to the formation of smog. However, despite enacting stringent in-state controls on sources of these pollutants, many states within the Region – including New York – are not able to meet federal health-based air quality standards for smog, significantly due to upwind smog pollution.

Modeling and analysis performed by EPA, as well as by states, has shown that interstate transport of air pollution from upwind states outside of the Ozone Transport Region –including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia – contributes significantly to violations of the 2008 federal smog standard within the Ozone Transport Region. In addition, preliminary modeling demonstrates that emissions in these states, as well as North Carolina, are projected to contribute to violations of the recently updated 2015 federal smog standard in the Region.

States outside and upwind of the Region are not required to – and generally do not – impose controls as stringent as those required of those within the Region. However, the federal Clean Air Act provides for states to petition the EPA to add states to the Ozone Transport Region, and for the EPA to add states when the agency has reason to believe that the interstate transport of air pollution from them significantly contributes to exceedances of the federal standards for smog in the Region.

FINANCING YOUR EDUCATION: The New York State Department of Financial Services in conjunction with Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato, Channel View PTA, and the Scholars’ Academy Parents Association presents: “Financing Your Education” on January 10, 6:00 p.m. at the Channel View High School Auditorium. This one-hour workshop includes a presentation, Q&A session and helpful brochures and takeaways on the following subjects: Filling out the FAFSA, grants, scholarship, types of loans, determining the amount of aid you qualify for, and helpful New York State programs. If you need immediate help with any financial question, call the DPS Consumer hotline at 800-342-3736 (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday). You can also find more information or file a complaint online at www.dfs.ny.gov.

MALONEY TO TRUMP: ALLOW FEDERAL EMPLOYEE OVERSIGHT BOARD TO OPERATE AT FULL CAPACITY: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) urged President Trump on December 20 to nominate individuals to fill the two vacancies on the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB primarily hears federal civil service employees’ appeals of administrative judge decisions in cases involving merit-based personnel decisions. The Congress Member, in her letter to the President, highlighted that the current backlog of 660 pending cases cannot currently be processed with two members missing from the three-member Board. “We owe it to all federal workers to ensure that the civil service protections we have established are thoroughly and fully enforced, and to do this, we need a working MSPB,” said Maloney. “I hope the President will put forward nominees swiftly to fill these open seats. It is in the best interest of both the government and employees to have a fully operational MSPB as soon as possible.” Maloney explained in her letter to Trump that the backlog dates back nearly three years, according to a recent Washington Post article, adding, “Yet, with only one board member, the appeals process is frozen, and none can be heard or resolved. Federal employees who have merit-based complaints against agency actions can run into a dead end trying to seek justice and damages. The Board also plays a role in ensuring whistleblower protections, which I believe are critically important to our work as government officials. “At a time when employees from every employment sector are coming forward with allegations of egregious workplace misconduct, it is essential that the federal government ensures that the civil service protections we have established are thoroughly and fully enforced. Filling the two vacancies at the Merit Services Protection Board is an important step in achieving the status the federal government can and should have as a model employer,” Maloney concluded.

GILLIBRAND URGES GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO HELP DEPORT NAZI-ERA GUARD: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter urging German Ambassador Peter Wittig to work with the U.S. Department of State to immediately resolve the long-standing issue of the Nazi-era guard, Jakiw Palij, currently living in Jackson Heights. Palij was allowed to enter the United States because he concealed his prior service to the Nazi regime. After determining that he had lied in order to enter the country, Palij’s American citizenship was stripped in 2003 and it was ordered that he be deported. However, since then, his deportation case has stalled because Germany, Poland and Ukraine refuse to accept him. Recently, Gillibrand led a letter with every member of the bicameral New York delegation in Congress to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressing deep concern over this issue. Gillibrand wrote in her letter to Ambassador Wittig, “This letter is to add my strong support for the State Department’s efforts to press on this issue, and to ensure that the voices of my constituents are heard. My constituents have made clear that Mr. Palij is not welcome in our state. They agree that he lost his right to remain here when the brutal past he tried so hard to hide was revealed in an American courtroom. They have no doubt that Mr. Palij must be deported immediately. Together, the United States and Germany can show the world that Mr. Palij’s crimes have not been forgotten. We can show that we have learned from the past and stand together today against anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hatred in all forms.”

CITY NEEDS BETTER RESPONSE TIMES FOR FERRY INCIDENTS: After an NYC Ferry collided with a sandbar just off the Rockaways on Wednesday, December 27, dozens of passengers and crew — 27 in all — were stranded on the boat in freezing waters for hours before help could arrive.

“We are glad that no one was seriously injured during this incident,” said NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. “However, the city needs to seriously improve their response time in situations like this, where 27 people were stuck out on the water in sub-freezing conditions for hours before rescue boats could arrive. This is the second time since November 27 that an NYC Ferry boat crashed into a submerged object, and measures need to be taken to prevent accidents like this from occurring if people are expected to trust and use the city’s ferry system. The city has been lucky that over the recent incidents on the ferry nobody was seriously injured. I’m hopeful that improved safety measures can be implemented before the city’s luck runs out.”

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