City council candidate David Weprin has asked that New York Citys last working family farm receive landmark designation to prevent a buyer from building apartments on the Fresh Meadows site in a move he contends could jeopardize the neighborhood.
Weprin, a Democrat running for the council seat now held by Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis), said Klein Farm at 194-15 73rd Ave. is a Queens institution and has been a farm since the Revolutionary War.
The Klein family, which has farmed at the location for more than a century, has yet to sell, although John Klein Jr., son of the owner, told the TimesLedger Newspapers this summer the sale looks like a done deal and gave a tentative sale date as Dec. 15.
Why all the excitement then over the sale of the Klein property to build, supposedly, 22 two-family homes? asked Weprin.
He said the area designated by the city as Klein Block 7117, Lot 730 is zoned R-4. He said it means that eventually mass clustered apartment buildings could be built on the lot, which he suggested would destabilize the neighborhood of small homes surrounding the property.
The Klein farm is linked with the Fresh Meadows apartment complex, which was developed by New York Life Insurance Co. in the late 1940s. Viewed as a model by urban planners, the complex now has nearly 14,000 tenants who live in 3,285 apartments in some 145 buildings.
Despite the vastness of the Fresh Meadows apartment complex, Weprin said apartments make up only 20 percent of Fresh Meadows residential housing.
He pointed out that since the Fresh Meadows apartment complex was declared a Special Planned Community Preservation District in 1974, the Klein farm cannot be sold or its property changed without full public review from the community board to the City Council.
Weprin warned that the open spaces within the Fresh Meadows apartment complex could be turned over to developers if not protected by the City Planning Department and the Landmarks Commission.
Since the property has yet to be sold, neither the City Planning Department nor the Landmarks Commission as yet can act on the matter, said David Gotlieb, Weprins campaign manager.
In the event of such a sale, we expect petitions of protest from neighborhood activists in Fresh Meadows, Gotlieb said.
The effect of this action on the rest of the Fresh Meadows population and Hillcrest is incalculable, Weprin said.
The farm was bought by Adam Klein in 1898 and grew to more than 93 acres by the 1930s. The land was then gradually sold off after World War II, leaving the present two acres.
The father and son raise tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, string beans, eggplant, carrots, cabbage, beets, scallions, celery, radishes, corn, peppers, pumpkins, melons and many types of herbs. Much of the produce is raised on the family farm, but a great deal is brought from the other family farm near Riverhead, L.I., and brought to the farm stand in Fresh Meadows.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2001 Community News Group
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