CB 13 OKs renaming 137th Ave. for slain man

By Howard Koplowitz

Michael Clarke, a 28-year-old film editor and crewman for NBC, was shot and killed outside Dubie's Place, a Jamaica club, in December 2002 after he got into an argument with his killer, according to the Queens DA.Wearing a button with the picture of his murdered son on his suit, Clarke's father, Donald Clarke, said his son “would extend himself to help people.””Michael's life was not in vain,” he said.His mother, Amanda Clarke, said her son was the first student government president at his Laurelton school.Antonio Benjamin, 43, of Decatur, Ga., received 25 years to life in prison after he was convicted of killing Clarke in November, the DA said.Benjamin shot Clarke three times in the head and ordered three witnesses to stuff Clarke's body in the trunk of Clarke's car.His body was discovered by his mother a week after the murder.City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) suggested naming 137th Avenue from 226th to 230th streets after Clarke.CB 13 approved the measure in a voice vote.Two other issues were also decided. First, the board disapproved of a variance to build a one-family home on a vacant Rosedale lot Monday because of parking and safety concerns.Calvin Wong, the lot owner's attorney, said the owner is proposing to build a two-story home at 249-32 Caney Road in Rosedale.He said a variance would be needed because the planned home would not meet the minimum lot size under zoning regulations. He said the structure would be 3,400 square feet, while zoning allows for a minimum of 3,800 square feet.The owner would also need the requirement for one-car parking on the site to be waived because the lot is only five-feet wide when it meets Caney Road, Wong said.But he said the lot is compliant with other zoning requirements such as floor-area ratio, height, lot coverage and open space.Bill Perkins, president of the Rosedale Civic Association, said he was concerned about the parking waiver because street parking is already congested in the neighborhood and a waiver would only make the condition worse.He also said he was worried about fire truck access to the home. “That lot is very narrow at 5 feet,” Perkins said.CB 13 member and Rosedale resident Derrick Warmington agreed. “I don't see how it is possible for someone to exit or enter into that property with a vehicle,” he said.CB 13 Chairman Richard Hellenbrecht said the city identified the lot as “buildable,” meaning it is suitable for construction, but he disputed that claim.”It may be buildable, but it's totally impractical,” Hellenbrecht said.The board voted against the variance 34-0 with no abstentions.On the second issue, CB 13 gave its approval in a voice vote to convert 221st Street between Winchester Boulevard and Braddock Avenue into a one-way street northbound.One resident on that block complained the street was in “a dangerous condition.””A lot of people use that street as a shortcut from Braddock Avenue to Winchester Boulevard,” he said.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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