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The Klein Farm, the last family-owned farm in Queens, cannot be commercially developed without approval from the Department of City Planning and a land-use review process, the agency said.
Approval of a variance would be far from guaranteed and vigorously opposed by the community.
What we heard is a developer would like to build two- and three- family homes, said Maria Dinnocentis, a Community Board 8 member who chairs Area 6, where the farm is located. We would really not like to see that happen. We want to maintain the open space and character of Fresh Meadows.
The family of John Klein, the owner of the farm, has indicated he planned to sell it to an unidentified buyer.
But any plans to sell the two-acre property to a developer who it is believed wants to build two- and three-family homes, would have to be put on hold because the farm is in a special district created by Met Life in the 1940s. The farm itself is more than 70 years old and has been in the Klein family for generations.
Earlier this month, before Klein and the Department of City Planning had a meeting, Kleins son, John Jr., told the TimesLedger it looks like a done deal and quoted a tentative sale date of Dec. 15.
On a Tuesday afternoon earlier this month as Klein Jr. prepared to open the annual farm market, he said his father had plans to sell the property on 73rd Avenue and 195th Street.
Any sale would mark the end of an era of family farming in Queens County.
The farm is recessed off 73rd Avenue and 195th Street. On the spacious front lawn, the farm stand is set up near the sidewalk. A large, two-story red brick house sits toward the rear of the two-acre property. Crop fields are on its right, adjacent to a school playground and behind a rear shed.
If I was a betting man, Id say this is the last season at this location, said Klein Jr., 36, as he gave instructions to some of the hired help on where to find some parsley seeds in the van to plant.
Jennifer Chait, a spokeswoman for the Department of City planning said her agency had informed John Klein Sr. that in order for a developer to be able to use the land, a uniform land-use review process by the agency would have to be conducted before development could be approved.
The younger Klein was optimistic, however, that a seasoned developer could pull strings to smooth the way toward approval of a zoning variance for the property.
Klein said he has been working on the farm on and off since he was 10 and full time for 15 years since he was 21. The farm and its spring harvest sales stand have been a neighborhood fixture since 1930, when it was owned by his great great grandfather.
Many customers come to the front lawn market during the summer, when it is open seven days a week. It remains open until the day before Thanksgiving, Klein Jr. said.
Its the last family-owned farm in the city, Klein Jr. said. I dont like whats happening, but I understand. The amount of money offered would take years for the farm to earn.
The farm grows basil, scallions, beats, parsley, radishes and cucumbers. A larger farm owned by the family in Riverhead, L.I. grows tomatoes, corn, lettuce, and other produce.
Klein has two children Cody, 5, and Veronica, 3.
They love it here, he said.
Reach reporter Daniel Arimborgo by e-mail at email@example.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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