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Huang's Flushing-based company, which has headed up development of properties in Flushing, Douglaston, Bayside and Elmhurst, is the target of at least two lawsuit and has been cited for a number of buildings violations."What the heck is the matter with New York City?" Avella said. "Where is the city? Who is supposed to be the watchdog?"Avella said that because of the inaction of the city, adjacent property owners are being forced to take action on their own in the form of lawsuits. Attending the news conference outside of his Bell Blvd. office on Friday morning were three property owners who currently have lawsuits pending against Huang. Alvin Toy, who owns the building where his elderly parents live on 51st Avenue in Elmhurst, appeared at the news conference but declined to speak with reporters because of "pending litigation." Toy's father, Jack, made a few comments but was repeatedly asked by his son and his son's attorney not to talk.Toy is seeking $3 million in punitive damages from Huang for a number of alleged violations, including underpinning work that the developer has done on the adjacent property. Underpinning is when cement columns are forced under the foundation of the adjacent home. In their lawsuit, the Toys allege that this work was done without their permission and without the proper permits.According to the Toys' attorney, Huang has counter-sued the Toys for defamation, also in the amount of $3 million.Another neighbor of property owned by Huang, Luz Rodriguez, is also suing the developer. The details of that suit, however, were not made available by her attorney. The same firm, Buchanan Ingersoll, is representing both the Toys and Rodriguez.Rodriguez also owns a home on 51st Avenue in Elmhurst, where Huang has erected a brick building that is located only inches from Rodriguez home.Pictures provided by Rodriguez's attorney show that the two buildings are separated by a gap of about one foot, the width of the eaves of her house."I can't fix nothing on my house," said Rodriguez, who referred all questions to her attorney, Timothy Fierst.Fierst said that the situation is so bad that Huang built a window on his building that faces the bathroom window of his client's home."The windows are parallel with Mrs. Rodriguez's bathroom window," Fierst said.Fierst also said buildings must be at least 10 feet from neighboring buildings unless permission is granted by the homeowner. Because of the many "alter-ego corporations" formed by Huang and his family, it is increasingly difficult to enforce stop-work orders and track violations, Fierst said.In another case, Patricia Martin had her home in Bayside damaged after a retaining wall that separated the property from a site being developed by Huang's company collapsed."I came to the press conference with my attorney to lend some support," said Martin.Avella said he has contacted New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer about the situation and he would like more information on the subject. Avella said he got in touch with the Buildings Department about two months ago to get information on the alleged violations by Huang's many corporations, but has not received so much as a phone call back. He said that he will file a Freedom of Information request if he has to. Buildings Department spokeswoman Jennifer Givner said requests for information about specific developers are difficult because records in the agency's database are organized by address or lot number - not by developers' names. "I can't just type in his name and pull up a list of the violations," she said. "That's a limitation of our current system." The computer system, she said, dates from the early '80s but is slated to be replaced within about two years, she said."At what point as a city do we say 'you can't do business in this city anymore,'" Avella said. "The city should not be relying on civic action."
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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