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N. Flushing tenant wages battle with developer

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City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) has claimed a victory against a Douglaston−based developer who tried to beat the clock on the North Flushing rezoning, but a tenant said her life has been “destroyed” in the process.

Avella said the city Department of Buildings revoked the building permits for the construction of a Tudor home at 166−43 26th Ave. Over the last several weeks, property owner and developer Paul Rufino has constructed large cinder block walls and concrete foundation around the existing home in what Avella said was an attempt to grandfather in his plans to tear down the home and build a multiple−family dwelling, which the recently approved North Flushing rezoning does not allow.

“To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what he was trying to pull,” Avella said. “We’re now going to be asking the DOB to make him take down the construction fences and these ridiculous walls he’s constructed.”

Rufino could not be reached for comment.

Marlene Von Schmeling, who rents the home and a personal training studio at adjacent 25−60 Francis Lewis Blvd. from Rufino, said the situation has amounted to a nightmare for her family.

Von Schmeling said she had been assured by Rufino, whom she considered a friend, that her home would not be torn down and she would be able continue to live and work in the area. But last week she said Rufino served her with an eviction notice for both her home and her business.

“Only an inhuman person would do what he is doing to us right now,” she said. “I’m destroyed.”

Although the DOB revoked Rufino’s permit, he still has the option to plead his case to the city Board of Standards and Appeals, which could grant him a variance to complete his work.

“If that happens, we’ll go and testify,” Avella said. “I think we’ve got a good case. He thinks he’s smarter than everybody, but he’s really just outsmarting himself.”

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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