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Developer cries foul over Maloney letter

A developer targeted in a recent letter U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) wrote to the city Department of Buildings urging action on his construction site has fired back at the congresswoman, saying she wrote the letter without talking to him.

“This letter is not even fair,” said Steven Bahar, of real estate development company Stemar Development. “It’s ridiculous.”

Bahar has faced criticism and been under scrutiny for the past three years over his currently halted construction of a planned nine-story hotel at 39-35 27th St. in Dutch Kills. The most complaints have come from the immediate neighbors, Rose Parrino and Vienna Ferreri, who said Bahar’s construction has caused damage to their properties.

Some of their complaints, which Maloney cited in her letter, included damage to the sidewalk in front of Parrino’s home, a portion of Parrino’s property being taken up by a fence surrounding the construction and improper sheeting and shoring done on Ferreri’s property.

The DOB’s website lists 24 open city Environmental Control Board violations against Bahar’s property. It also lists a stop-work order issued against Bahar’s site for damage to the adjacent properties.

“The owner has repeatedly and willfully acted in a manner that is contrary to law and common decency,” Maloney said in her letter.

Bahar, who has been criticized by other members of the community who believe the proliferation of hotels in the area is ruining the character of the neighborhood, said he does not believe the complaints are solely about the damage.

“They don’t like the height, that’s it,” Bahar said.

In 2008, a rezoning of the community passed limiting the height at which commercial properties could be built, but properties that started construction before — Bahar’s began in 2007 — could continue so long as the foundation was 100 percent complete. Bahar’s was not, although he appealed the decision with the city Board of Standards and Appeals, which granted him the right to complete his property.

Bahar said more than a dozen residents showed up at the BSA meeting, which he said proved to him the controversy is not about any damage.

“Several buildings have gone up already that are out of character,” Bahar said. “Maybe their houses are out of character in height with what the height requirement should be.”

Bahar said he is trying to get the stop-work order rescinded since the BSA accepted his appeal of the grandfather clause, because a requirement to install tiebacks in the foundation issued two months previous to the deadline, which was later rescinded, prevented him from finishing in time. He also said he has not been able to address residents’ complaints due to the stop-work order.

In the one instance where the stop-work order was partly rescinded so Bahar could backfill and grade Parrino’s property, Bahar said he did not believe it was necessary and the complaint was not based on a structural emergency. Bahar has asked the DOB to put the request in writing, he said.

“I have a long list of ways I’m being harassed by the neighbors and people are just helping the neighbors harass me,” Bahar said.

Carly Sullivan, spokeswoman for the DOB, said the department is planning a meeting with Maloney on this issue.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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