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City issues violations for vacant Flushing lot

Nearly two months after residents demonstrated outside a vacant commercial laundry in Flushing, calling it a blight on the community, the city Department of Health said it inspected the lot and issued several health violations.

"Although I am encouraged by the Department of Health's recent actions, I will not be satisfied until this problem is addressed once and for all," Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Flushing) said in a written statement.

A spokesman for the Health Department, Erich Giebelhaus, said the lot on the corner of 161st Street and 45th Avenue was inspected Sept. 26 and violations were issued for heavy machinery and "conditions conducive to rodents." The owner of the property, Philip Chu, was given two weeks from then to correct the violations.

Although a follow-up visit to check compliance is usually scheduled two weeks after the date when the violations are issued, Giebelhaus said Tuesday the inspection had not yet been done.

The lot and the empty building have stood in a state of neglect for more than 10 years, McLaughlin said. During the 1980s, the assemblyman said, Chu ran the commercial laundry, but after he closed it down in the late 1980s, he allowed the site to devolve into a jungle of heavy machinery.

Community leaders want to see the building demolished, and on June 19, the city Department of Buildings ordered that the building be razed. But then, the department reversed its decision and opted instead to brick up the building, a move that incensed all of the 40 Flushing residents who demonstrated in August.

Giebelhaus added that inspectors had visited the lot between March and April and had issued violations to Chu, which were similar to the ones issued in September for high weeds, debris and heavy machinery.

If the violations are not responded to within a specified time, the Health Department can perform the cleanup itself and bill the owner.

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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