Doug homeowners fight developers with lawn signs

By Ayala Ben-Yehuda

The Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society and Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) presented the signs at a rally Tuesday in front of a 1903 Douglaston Hill home in the process of being sold.

The sale has alarmed residents near the house at 240-35 43rd Ave., who have feared it would be demolished ever since it went on the market last fall.

“The community is going about this sign-posting to get the message out far and wide,” said Bill Sievers, vice president of the historical society, which has until recently been rebuffed in its efforts to attain city landmark status for Douglaston Hill's turn-of-the-century homes.

The designation would prevent such houses from being demolished and would require development in the area to be in character with older homes. After initially rejecting a landmarking bid, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission has agreed to review it again.

The lawn signs' message, aimed at builders and homeowners looking to sell their properties, was to “cease and desist the development taking place in northeast Queens,” Sievers said.

An anti-development sign had even been placed on the lawn of the house being sold.

The Campisi family of Douglaston donated $700 to print 100 signs, about 70 of which have already been distributed, Sievers said. Even people living outside Douglaston Hill have requested them, he said.

Those interested in acquiring signs can call 212-684-5553.

Said Avella: “This is an example of community activism that we want in this city.”

Civic groups in Bayside, Flushing and the Douglaston-Little Neck area have been mounting a steady campaign against the growing trend in which developers knock down older one-family homes and build large modern houses on the lots.

Avella commissioned a study by preservationist Paul Graziano recommending rezoning and creating two dozen historic preservation areas in the councilman's district.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.