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Marshall, Padavan oppose Walgreens

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Two of the borough's most powerful politicians have asked the city to reject a variance necessary to build a Walgreens Pharmacy in College Point.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Whitestone) have come out against the proposed drugstore at 14-01 College Point Blvd. at the corner of 14th Avenue in the heart of College Point.

Collpoint Enterprises Inc. needs a variance to construct the 9,500-square-foot store. Under zoning laws, 38 parking spots are required for the site, but the plan includes no spaces.

"The mini-municipal lot, across from 14-01 College Point Blvd., would bear the brunt of the ... 38 parking spaces for this building, which would undoubtedly create a chronic lack of available parking at a location that serves as a needed alternative parking location for several businesses," Padavan wrote to city Board of Standards and Appeals Commissioner James Chin at the beginning of March.

The BSA, which has the ultimate say in the matter, is in the midst of conducting hearings on the issue.

The site currently is home to a vacant lot and a three-story building that houses a stationery store and apartments, which would be knocked down under the plan.

In January, Community Board 7 voted 43-0 to reject the variance. Most who spoke at the meeting were concerned about the lack of parking and deliveries to the store clogging up streets, although some said they thought another drugstore would help boost business along College Point Boulevard.

At the time, Joseph Morsellino, an attorney representing the developer, argued that smaller stores would spring up at the location if Walgreens was denied the variance, and those stores would also add to the parking problem.

Morsellino could not be reached for comment for this story.

In her February recommendation to the BSA against the variance, Marshall agreed with the members of Community Board 7.

"Off-street parking should be provided to accommodate the number of patrons that may be drawn to a store of that size," she wrote. "Additionally, an off-street parking area would provide space to accept deliveries for the store and remove any potential traffic congestion that may be caused by trucks and vans double-parked on 14th Avenue."

The planned Walgreens is one of several drugstores that have come under fire in northeast Queens, which some residents contend is oversaturated with corporate pharmacies. A Walgreens in Whitestone has been criticized for strictly enforcing a towing policy for its parking lot, and a CVS Pharmacy in Whitestone was the target of three protests because it replaced a supermarket.

In his letter, Padavan noted the Walgreens would be the third drug store on a relatively short stretch of College Point Boulevard.

"Not only is a business of this type not needed in downtown College Point, but also it would certainly thwart the balance that the business community has been seeking to create in order to remain viable in these terribly difficult economic times," Padavan said.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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