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Civics want work stopped on 94th Rd. lot

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The request was unanimously voted down by Community Board 13 and is being considered by the Board of Standards and Appeals. The next hearing was scheduled for Tuesday at 40 Rector St. in Manhattan, and opponents of the proposal plan to attend.

Their complaints echo those of other homeowners fighting similar development projects in the borough: concern that their neighborhood will become more crowded, that the new houses will not meld with local aesthetics and that their utilities will be overburdened.

"It's going to overtax everything - schools, sanitation, parking, fire, police," said Ram Ramgarib, who as the president of the Queens Village Civic Association, is leading the fight.

The property, from 211-41 to 211-54 94th Rd. near Jamaica Avenue, is composed of two lots in an area roughly 200 feet by 300 feet that sit at the end of a short cul-de-sac. The site is enclosed by the backyards of surrounding homes and contains piles of garbage on its edges.

A maximum of nine single-family homes can be built on the two lots, according to local zoning regulations, but 211 Building Corp., the Holliswood developer, is seeking permission to construct 12 two-family homes.

211 Building Corp. has asked for the variance on the grounds of economic hardship, saying that developing the site will be too expensive with only nine homes since utilities must be brought in.

"To do all that really adds to the cost of development," said Richard Lobel, a lawyer with a firm representing the developer. He said the houses would look similar to other homes in the area, with the developer providing more than the required number of parking spaces.

"It's basically kind of a knee-jerk reaction that we don't want any more development in our area," Lobel said. "We've reached out to the community board. We're trying to work with them."

Ramgarib said the community faces an uphill battle, that the BSA usually rules in favor of developers and that his group simply does not have as many resources as the other side.

"We as a community are short-changed," Ramgarib said. "We're not on a level playing field."

Ramgarib did, however, hire a financial consultant, who he said determined that enough of a profit could be made by only building nine homes. He said he has brought together a group of neighborhood investors willing to buy the land at a premium and then develop it on a smaller scale.

But so far the developer does not seem interested.

Ask for his purchase proposal, Ramgarib said "they haven't said anything."

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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