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Council OKs rezone, land deal for Willets move to Corporate Park

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The City Council voted to approve both a new special zoning district for the College Point Corporate Park and the first step toward moving five Willets Point businesses to the area last week, drawing cheers and jeers from community and business leaders.

The Council unanimously approved a special zoning district for the College Point Corporate Park, which protects the 550-acre area against major industrial development from occurring at the site as well as providing a buffer zone between the area and surrounding residential communities.

Although Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said he was happy the community received some protections, which were proposed to replace an expired Urban Renewal Plan for the area, he believes more should have been done. Avella said he was able to get the city to agree to barring open-air manufacturing and industrial facilities from the area, such as auto-salvage yards, but he failed to winsupport for barring adult establishments, which he had fought hard for.

“I’m happy that I was able to get additional concessions to tighten up the zoning district,” he said. “But the only reason that they refused to do anything about adult establishments is because they’re worried about a potential lawsuit against the city from the adult services industry. Not to take some sort of action because there’s the potential of a lawsuit is just ridiculous.”

The Council also approved a proposal that allows the city Economic Development Corp. to transfer city-owned land to five businesses from Willets Point so that they can eventually relocate to the area. Avella voted against the plan, which could allow Sambucci Bros. Auto Salvage, Flushing Towing, T. Mina Building Supply Co., Met Metals and Feinstein Ironworks to move to the corporate park as long as they meet the requirements set forth by the special zoning district.

He said he was not surprised by the Council’s 46-3 vote on the proposal.

“I knew it was an uphill battle,” he said.

The five businesses will now need to individually make presentations to the Queens Borough Board with detailed plans for their relocated businesses and Avella said he is confident they will be turned down.

“I think I have a better shot of convincing my Queens colleagues than I did with the full Council,” Avella said.

The city has also promised not to relocate any more Willets Point businesses to the corporate park, a step Community Board 7 lauded.But this pledge may bring legal action from other Iron Triangle business owners, which the city may force to move to pave the way for a multibillion-dollar development.

“The city has never offered anyone a real place of substance to move to except these five. To now shut the door on any of the scarce pieces of land in the city available is discriminating at the worst,” said Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain Abuse President Jerry Antonacci.

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

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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