"At every meeting we have held on this topic, there has been overwhelming opposition to this building," DCA President Eliot Socci told civic members at a Jan. 29 meeting.Socci said in a phone interview that the developer had in fact approached the civic group with plans to build a six-story apartment complex as early as 2003. But in two director-level meetings and a general public meeting, the civic staunchly opposed any plans. "The building was simply going to be too large," said Socci, who rented a bus to bring civic members to the BSA hearing. A lawyer who Socci said is representing the developer, Joshua Rinesmith of the firm Sheldon Lobel, did not return phone messages asking about the developer's name or his case.The civic has retained a lawyer, Marc Bresky, who has made the group's case in a preliminary BSA hearing.Addressing its members at the Jan. 29 meeting, Bresky said the developer had been largely disingenuous in its overtures to the local community, which included downsizing from six to four stories and lessening the parking space."It's an insult," Bresky said of the parking space move, "to offer a reduction in parking spaces in response to a concern about traffic and parking space."Bresky also said the site was zoned for R 1-2 buildings but that the developer was seeking a variance from the BSA to put up an R7A building, allowing for a taller building with a greater floor-to-area ratio. He further claimed BSA members appeared sympathetic to the civic's concerns.Also on hand to condemn the developer's plans at the meeting was Paul Graziano, an independent urban planner. Graziano said the developer had come up with some artful explanations in pitching the plan's viability, claiming it would be in keeping with other buildings in a 750-foot radius - and then switching that metric to include the commercially-zoned area of Northern Boulevard from 223rd Street to the Nassau County line."It's just such a terrible argument that I'm really interested to see what the BSA will make of it," he said.Nonetheless, Socci said in the phone interview that he was resigned to conducting damage control instead of achieving outright victory."They're going to get something up, there's no doubt about that," he said with a sigh. "We're just trying to make sure that whatever it is, it's not overwhelming."Reach reporter M. Junaid Alam by e-mail at malam@time
©2008 Community News Group
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