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FAA to review 11-story stack planned near LGA

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FAA spokeswoman Arlene Murray said the agency would conduct additional research into the project after receiving a petition challenging its September determination that the planned structure, to be located at 120-15 31st. Ave., would not interfere with air travel if properly lit. Community Board 7 manager Marilyn Bitterman said when the board initially approved the plan in 2005, members did not realize the project contained plans for an 11-story smokestack that could affect air traffic. CB 7, which covers Whitestone, Flushing and College Point, voted to approve the Marine Transfer Station in 2005 by a margin of 36-3. Bitterman said the board recognizes the need for the facility, which will replace a similar transfer station closed in 2001, but the board now wants any potential issues with LaGuardia cleared up before construction begins. The FAA move comes a week after U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) wrote a letter to Gov. Eliot Spitzer decrying the plans, which call for the 11-story city Department of Sanitation structure to be built 2,200 feet across Flushing Bay from LaGuardia's eastern runway. In his letter, Ackerman called the plans "an act of collosal stupidity" and questioned the FAA's "mysteriously reversed" decision to allow the plans to go forward. In January 2005, the FAA released a statement that said the 110-foot smokestack would be a "presumed hazard" to air traffic in the area. Murray said the FAA's original position on the station was based solely on the fact that the building exceeded a height threshold that deems it to be potentially hazardous to air travel. This prompted an investigation into the matter by the FAA, which completed the review in September and decided the structure would not, in fact, be a hazard to LaGuardia's air traffic if certain conditions were met, such as proper lighting for the tower, she said."We have since received a further petition on the project, so now we will go back and examine it even further," Murray said.Murray did not disclose the source of the petition, but the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which administers the airport, has come out against the plans. Spokesman Pasquale DiFulco said the Port Authority had appealed the decision. "We had noted that we believe it could have an impact on operations and decided to appeal the decision," DiFulco said.The Marine Transfer Station, which once built will handle the majority of trash in Queens and take it on barges to area landfills, was originally called for by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2004 as a cost-effective solution to the city's trash problem. There is no timetable for completion of the project, but construction is expected to take 32 months once underway, according to the mayor. Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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