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Walgreens pharmacy will be built City approves zoning variance opposed by Queens politicians

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The city has approved plans to allow a Walgreens Pharmacy to open up in College Point, going against the recommendations of two of the borough's most powerful politicians and Community Board 7.

The city Board of Standards and Appeals voted 4-0 to approve a variance needed to construct the pharmacy at 14-01 College Point Blvd. at a Tuesday afternoon meeting.

"I think it's going to be a plus for the community," said Joseph Morsellino, the attorney representing Collpoint Enterprises Inc., the owner of the property. "I think that many people in the community are looking forward to a drugstore the caliber of Walgreens."

Others, however, objected to the vote.

"It's absolutely ridiculous that a site that needs 38 parking spaces can get away with not having one," said Joan Vogt, assistant district manager for state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Whitestone) and a College Point resident. "In College Point we have a traffic nightmare, and this is just adding to it."

The drugstore's plans have angered many in College Point since they were unveiled at a Community Board 7 meeting in January.

Collpoint had sought a variance to allow it to construct the 9,500- square-foot pharmacy without providing parking. Under zoning laws, a store taking up the entire property must have 38 spaces. If the lot was divided into three separate stores, no parking is necessary.

The site is currently home to an empty lot as well as a small stationery store and a gift store, which are slated to be demolished now that the variance has been granted.

The location is across the street from a municipal parking lot with 40 spaces.

At the CB 7 meeting, a parade of College Point community leaders spoke out against the pharmacy. One College Point chiropractor, however, said he supported Walgreens because he expected it would boost his business.

The board voted 43-0 to reject the variance.

After the community board hearing, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall recommended that the city should deny the variance. She contended delivery trucks parked in front of the store would cause a buildup of traffic on College Point Boulevard and 14th Avenue, two of the main roads that lead into College Point.

Padavan wrote to BSA Commissioner James Chin asking the agency to reject the drug store.

"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. 14

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