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SJU dorm developer meets with community

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Shortly before meeting with the community, David Belt, a managing partner with H2H Residences, LLC, came to the school armed with a presentation outlining the 66-unit, 478-bed project's appearance and impact. Sketches showed a six-story building with staggered setbacks above the third floor, a landscaped courtyard and side yards, 24-hour security and below-grade parking for some 80 cars.The community has opposed the project at 172-14 Henley Rd. in Jamaica Estates from the start. Residents have objected to the secrecy in which St. John's pursued the deal with H2H, the size of the building - which conforms to zoning and does not need a variance - and number of occupants, and the impact it is anticipated to have on the sewers in the area.The neighborhood was upzoned last fall in the city's Jamaica rezoning, and every city agency affected participated in the environmental impact statement for the area, including the Department of Environmental Protection."The [Jamaica Plan] environmental impact statement found that the sanitary sewer has adequate capacity," Belt said. "But the new Jamaica Plan will create a surcharge on the sewer system south of Hillside Avenue" which is outside the dorm project's purview.Belt said H2H did its own study of the sewers with DEP and is talking with the agency about upgrades along 172nd Street. "We've engaged in discussions with DEP to share responsibility for any upgrades needed due to the increased capacity from our building, south of Hillside," Belt said. He said he was not sure at this point exactly what sharing responsibility would entail. The developer also is looking to add nine stormwater detention tanks to the two approved in the plans so as not to add to flooding in the area, he said.The parking available counts for a fraction of the building's future tenants, and neither Belt nor St. John's had an answer to where the extra cars would fit. The 80 spaces are to be built below grade, which is also where the dorm's trash is to be stored and picked up, Belt said.Regarding security for the neighborhood, Belt said the project's entrances are to be located on a courtyard away from the street to minimize noise and traffic impact. The design includes landscaping, security gates and cameras and 24-hour public safety guards, Belt said.Belt and representatives of H2H were to meet with the school's community dialogue group Tuesday evening on campus.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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