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Unwanted motel OK’d near school

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Despite months of protests and a massive rezoning, the city gave a Long Island developer the green light Tuesday to continue construction of a controversial motel down the block from Springfield Gardens High School.

The city Board of Standards & Appeals approved a motion by Saliesh Ghandi to resume construction of a motel at 219−05 N. Conduit Ave., despite new zoning regulations that halted the work in the fall, a spokesman for the agency said. Community activists and residents who live near the site have been protesting against Ghandi because he plans to charge motel guests by the hour.

Residents feared the motel would attract prostitution activity and harm the well−being of Springfield Garden High students. Michael Duncan, a City Council candidate who participated in several rallies last spring and summer, said he was disgusted with the ruling and was scheduling a meeting with the community Saturday at Springfield Gardens High School.

“I do not know what will happen next. But I know one thing for sure: My supporters and I will fight until the motel is brought down,” Duncan said in a statement.

Ghandi, who has developed and owns hourly motels in Brooklyn, could not be reached for comment. One of the protests took place outside the developer’s Great Neck home.

In September, the City Council passed a 220−block rezoning plan for the Laurelton and Springfield Gardens neighborhoods. The plot of land where the lodge is scheduled to be built was originally zoned with a C−2 designation, but was changed to a C−1 designation, which prohibits motels.

The rezoning stopped the construction because Ghandi had not completed the foundation for the building, according to City Councilman James Sanders (D−Laurelton), who also protested against the motel. In November, the developer filed an appeal with the BSA, claiming the owner had made substantial progress on the foundation and was nearly finished.

Sanders had rallied residents to go to the BSA’s public hearing in February on Ghandi’s appeal and voice their concerns, but the board approved the developer’s request.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 6:33 pm, October 10, 2011
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