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Douglaston diner requires drainage work, CB 11 says

The city Board of Standards and Appeals will soon decide whether to grant a variance to the owner of the former Seville Diner’s property in Douglaston, but northeast Queens community leaders said the site needs to be cleaned up due to drainage problems.

The diner, which opened in the mid-1970s, was formerly at 231-10 Northern Blvd. in Douglaston near the Alley Pond Environmental Center. The site’s current owner plans to open a sushi buffet restaurant.

The BSA will decide whether to grant a variance at the site during its next meeting. But some northeast Queens community leaders said they were concerned about clean-up efforts at the site.

“A significant problem is that the parking lot dips in the southwest corner, so whenever it rains the whole parking lot floods,” said Eliott Socci, president of the Douglaston Civic Association. “Oily residue that collects in the lot will wash down into the wetlands, which are fairly close to Alley Pond Park and Alley Creek.”

In March, Community Board 11 voted 32-10 in favor of a 15-year variance for the property. The board’s conditions were that flooding in the lot’s southwest corner should be remediated, the area in front of the building should be landscaped, a dumpster should be placed at the rear of the property and that the new restaurant’s closing time should be 1 a.m.

Borough President Helen Marshall has also approved the variance.

The site’s owner previously went before CB 11 for approval to add a second floor to the building, but the board rejected the proposal.

Planned work for the site includes a new facade with a 4-foot extension at the top for decorative purposes as well as interior work, such as the construction of a new kitchen and renovated plumbing.

“It would take millions of dollars to buy this commercial property and turn it into parkland again,” said Jerry Iannece, CB 11’s chairman. “If there was someone who was philanthropic, I’d love to see them do it. But this is commercial property. So how the owner rectifies it is up to him.”

The building’s owner, Ching Kuo Chiang, could not be reached for comment.

Iannece said the key issue at the site is drainage problems.

City Department of Buildings records show that a partial stop-work order was issued at the site in April and that six complaints against the property have been filed this year.

Socci had said earlier that he did not have any objections about a variance renewal for the building, but he was surprised to hear the property owner refer to flooding problems at the site as “hearsay” during a BSA hearing in April.

“He seems to be an earnest individual,” Socci said of the site’s owner. “But when it comes to good intentions vs. the good of the community, I have to come down on the side of the community.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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