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Residents ask city to halt new Jamaica Ave. motel

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Community leaders presented their case at the Board of Standards and Appeals' third and final meeting to determine if the developers of a proposed motel on Jamaica Avenue should receive a variance to complete its construction.

The developers recently entered an agreement to lease the motel to Howard Johnson.

Members of the Wayanda Civic Association, Community Board 13 and Connie Robinson-Turner, a representative for state Assemblywoman Barbara Clark's (D-Queens Village) office, appeared before the board Feb. 29 to plead their case against the completion of the Paradise Motel at 220-16 Jamaica Ave.

Their primary concern is that the motel will turn into a "hot sheets" or transient motel, said Peter Richards, president of the Wayanda Civic Association.

Construction on the partially built shell of the $3.2 million, 54-room motel was stopped Nov. 19, 1998 when Queens Borough Commissioner James Leonard determined that the "construction of the transient hotel was now contrary to zoning laws."

The BSA held its first hearing on the motel in November 1999 and the second in January. It now must decide whether to give the owners, brothers Jitendra Bhatt and Bharat Bhatt of Farmingdale, L.I., the zoning variance they seek in order to complete the construction.

Pasquale Pacifico, executive director of the Board of Standards and Appeals, said the case is closed, but the records will be open for additional letters from the community until March 14. The board's decision is due March 28.

He said lawyers for the builders answered more of the board's questions and the developers have entered into a franchise contract with Howard Johnson to run the facility.

"Howard Johnson will not put their name on anything bad," said Eric Palatnick, a lawyer for the builders.

Pacifico said developers submitted a report from a consultant which says the motel's guests would come from a wide variety of places, including Kennedy Airport, Aqueduct and Belmont racetracks and a nearby wedding banquet hall.

But Ken Daly, also a representative of the Wayanda Civic Association, said he reviewed the report prepared by the Charles Anderson Bell firm. Daly said his civic did not accept "his conclusion that the Paradise Motel leased to Howard Johnson Motor Lodge through the Cendant Corporation will be coasting on the city's business and tourist hotel occupancy surge of the past several years."

According to Pacifico, the lawyers also presented documents which indicate the developers are paying about $18,000 a month in interest on the property and are facing severe economic hardship because of the construction delay.

Palatnick contended the community does not want to listen to what the developers have proposed. He said the hotel is a good business now supported by an international chain.

He said if the community is concerned about day rates and illegal activity, it should ask the BSA to put the developers on a "short leash" and monitor the facility. If they break any of the BSA's conditions, the community along with its politicians could revoke their certificate of occupancy.

In addition to Clark, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis), Councilman Archie Spigner (D-St. Albans) and Borough President Claire Shulman have publicly opposed the building of the motel.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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