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CB 11 gives nod to new area business projects

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The board members ended their last scheduled meeting for the season by voting on two commercial proposals for Auburndale and a residential project in Little Neck.Members first heard from a real estate agent seeking a commercial zoning change at 58-37 through 58-43 Francis Lewis Blvd., currently a low-density residential zone. Larry Avroch, a realtor who is the property owner, owns two vacant lots where he hopes to build a two-story office building. Avroch also co-owns a third adjoining lot with his real estate office, which would remain under the current low-density residential zoning to act as a buffer, he said.Avroch had presented his application to the board last March but was voted down and changed his plans after meeting with community leaders and City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis), making the proposed commercial rezoned area smaller."I've tried to do everything humanly possible to make it more palatable," Avroch said. "We tried to go out of our way to alleviate the concerns."Avroch contends the vacant lots, on such a busy street and flanked by his office on one side and a large medical facility on the other, would never be suitable for residential development. But without some kind of business there, the barbed-wire fence and vacant lots would continue to be neglected, he said."It made no sense to keep a little sliver there," said Sol Korman, Avroch's engineer.At Monday's meeting, Avroch said he signed a restrictive covenant drafted by the Auburndale Civic Association, agreeing to restrictions on tenant hours, type of business, dumpster location, and fencing, among other issues. The covenant will always pertain to the site, even if Avroch sells the property.One neighbor urged the board to oppose the plan, citing parking and noise concerns."For me it's no good. It's no good for my neighborhood," said Daniel Mulkerin, who has lived immediately north of the property for 25 years.But despite Mulkerin's objections and the board's zoning committee's no vote, CB 11 members ultimately voted 32-8 with one abstention in favor of approving Avroch's application with the restrictive covenant attached."What we're trying to do in Queens is to make the zoning fit the area," noted board member Bernard Haber.The board also voted 35-5 with one abstention in favor of allowing John Milonas, a baker from Whitestone, a variance to open a cafe at 189-11 Northern Blvd.Representatives from the Auburndale Civic Association opposed the variance, claiming parking was problematic and citing past clashes with the landlord, Barone Properties."Mr. Barone has been unwilling or unable to push tenants to adopt standards," said Terri Pouymari, the civic's first vice president. "We would hope the community would get protection, not variances."Milonas stressed that his planned cafe, which would serve pastries and beverages, would be a benefit to the area where he and his family live."We're not only lessees, we're also neighbors. I'm a resident of the community. I see what's going on," Milonas said. "We're a mom-and-pop bakery. It's not going to be a Ground Round.""We want to invest in Bayside," he added. "We want to make something nice."Lastly, the board wrangled over a proposed enlargement of a one-family house to a two-family residence on Cornell Lane, a private road measuring 13 feet wide tucked away behind Northern Boulevard in Little Neck. There are only 11 residential lots located on Cornell Lane.Janice Cahalane, a lawyer representing owner Susan Kim, said the current house was very small and the area's zoning entitled the landlord to enlarge the building. But local residents told the board that Cornell Lane's small dimensions and the lack of public utilities would mean that construction in the area would have an undue impact on neighbors."The street just can't take any more traffic," said Michael Schweiger, a resident. The board ultimately voted 21-17 against the proposed expansion. Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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