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Personnel issue leads CB 13 to call executive session

The board moved quickly on all three voting items because they were discussed at length at previous meetings. Later in the evening, the room was filled with tension as members of CB 13's executive committee huddled in the rear left corner of the Bell Park Jewish Center in Queens Village discussing whether or not the board's by-laws allowed them to call a closed-door executive session Ð an action whose rules were unclear to the board since one had not be called in more than a quarter of a century.Discussed at the December CB 13 meeting but not officially voted on since a quorum was not reached, the board unanimously opposed, 31-0, plans to construct two one-story homes on what used to be a mapped street at 141st Avenue near 222nd Street in Laurelton near the Long Island Rail Road tracks. The street was mapped because the placement of the LIRR tracks was not planned out when the street was constructed. Although the board voted down the measure, which was an administrative appeal and not a variance, CB 13 Chairman Richard Hellenbrecht later said in a phone interview that the decision does not carry the same weight as other board actions because the lot is privately owned property."There's not really a heck of a lot the community can say," Hellenbrecht said.The board also approved plans to develop three two-family houses on 146th Avenue in Laurelton on a private street called Pleasant Place. Hellenbrecht said the lot where the buildings are to potentially be constructed is "a small space behind existing homes off a map street."The board's approval was tied to conditions that there be no parking signs posted on the street and that the block hire a management organization for snow removal and sanitation since the city is not required to provide those services on a private street. The vote was a tough decision for some board members, who did not respond swiftly when asked to respond yes or no. "This is a tough one," said one member when it was time for him to vote. At the board's December meeting, there were six members for the proposal and 11 against. But the measure passed by a margin of 19-11."I think we cannot continue to vote things down because we feel 'well, it's not perfect," said CB 13 member Raymond Joseph after the vote."I think there are times when we have to approve things as long as there are conditions," Hellenbrecht said.But in a unanimous 30-0 vote, CB 13 voiced its opposition to building two single-family homes on a narrow but long plot at 224th Street and Prospect Court. The three plans still have to go to the Board of Standards and Appeals and Borough President Helen Marshall's office before a final judgement is made on their status.After the votes, CB 13 member Seymour Finkelstein wanted to call a closed-door executive session regarding a "personnel issue," but it was unclear what occurred during that meeting. Besides saying that the session "was an issue that was internal," Hellenbrecht declined to comment.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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