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City wins order to remove College Pt. park billboard

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Queens Supreme Court Judge Allan Weiss ruled last week that T.C. Foods Import and Export Co. in the College Point Corporate...

By Cynthia Koons

In a city where advertising is as ubiquitous as the atmosphere, one government agency put up a fight against a billboard and won.

Queens Supreme Court Judge Allan Weiss ruled last week that T.C. Foods Import and Export Co. in the College Point Corporate Park must remove its large sign from the Whitestone Expressway because it was in violation of the city’s urban renewal plan for that area.

The Economic Development Corp., the agency responsible for the creation and growth of the College Point Corporate Park, led the fight against the sign. The billboard was erected in 1999, and the EDC began what ended up being a four-year legal battle against the advertisement in 2000.

The billboard has Bronx Zoo and Delta Airline advertisements on either side of it and had not been taken down as of Tuesday.

“We were trying to negotiate with them to take it down voluntarily,” said James Aldag, the assistant corporation counsel with the Affirmative Legal Division of the New York City Law Department. “The property owner, they really took the backseat, they let the sign company take the lead in the defense.”

Attorneys for T.C. Foods Import and Export Co., located on College Point Boulevard in Flushing, and the sign company, PNE Media, did not return calls for comment.

Aldag said the highway was already blanketed with billboards and T.C. Foods Import and Export Co. had not changed the landscape of the area.

But according to the urban renewal plan for that area, advertising signs are not permitted in the College Point Corporate Park.

The other billboards that Aldag referred to were outside the area that is governed by the College Point Corporate Park’s urban renewal plan.

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said the urban renewal plan clearly spells out the regulations for the Corporate Park including where open space is required, how large buffer zones should be and what type of signage is allowed.

Michael Cardozo, the corporation counsel for the city, said the business park had wrongfully permitted the building of the sign.

“The Corporate Park business had improperly allowed the construction of the billboard, and the billboard company refused to stop construction and remove the billboard,” Cardozo said in a statement. “Legal action was accordingly required. The victory is another example of the rule of law being applied equally to all businesses for the good of the city of New York.”

EDC President Andrew Alper said the court’s decision would allow the Corporate Park to develop accordingly.

“The College Point Corporate Park promotes economic development, creates jobs and serves as a good neighbor to the residents of the College Point community,” Alper said in a statement. “The court order permits us to continue our efforts to maintain the College Point Corporate Park to everyone’s benefit.”

Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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