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Douglaston Hill landmark vote postponed by Council

"That's a disgrace," said City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who attended the meeting even though he does not sit on the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses.According to Council rules, a quorum is established when four of the seven subcommittee members are present to take a vote. Councilmen Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), G. Oliver Koppell (D-Bronx) and Chairman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) showed up. A Council staff member said the other Council members were either ill or unavailable to attend the meeting. Avella said Perkins was at a news conference at City Hall with the Rev. Jesse Jackson instead of at the hearing, thus delaying the subcommittee meeting until April 18, with a possible full Council vote not likely until April 20. Originally, the proposal was scheduled for a full Council vote Tuesday."It's almost a whole month (delayed) because Perkins had to be at a press conference," he said.Calls placed to Perkins were not returned.A core group of members from the Douglaston Hill/Little Neck Historical Society, who made the trek to Manhattan in support of the landmark designation, expressed disappointment at the delay."It's very difficult for us to get from the far end of Queens," said one member who declined to be named. "It's been an endless ordeal.""We do have lives," she added.The historic district application was sponsored by the historical society, which was formed in 1989 specifically to lobby for the creation of landmarked historic districts in Douglas Manor and Douglaston Hill. While Douglas Manor was designated by the city in 1997, the society has been fighting for 15 years for Douglaston Hill's preservation, which would legally protect 31 turn-of-the-century homes from unseemly alterations or destruction. The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission initially denied the society's application in December 2003. After community outcry, however, the agency made an unprecedented reversal and unanimously passed the application on Dec. 14. Douglaston Hill was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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