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Wary of Development

R’wood Housing Plan Blasted

Plans to develop housing on an industrial Ridgewood site were blasted during a Community Board 5 public hearing held at the advisory body’s meeting last Wednesday, May 14, at Middle Village’s Christ the King Regional High School.

Queens Department of Transportation Commissioner Dalila Hall (at right) and the DOT’s Nicole Altmix (at left) presented proposed changes to the Ridgewood intersection of Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue and Palmetto Street during last Wednesday’s Community Board 5 meeting. Shown seated at center are (from left to right) District Manager Gary Giordano and Chairperson Vincent Arcuri.

The hearing focused on a Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) variance application to allow for the construction of a three-story residential building with a penthouse apartment at 1504-1506 Decatur St., a 25′ x 90′ lot currently zoned for manufacturing purposes.

Speaking on behalf of the property owner, engineer Moshe Friedman stated the site previously had a restaurant and a two-family dwelling before being demolished years ago. Previous efforts to build a six-family apartment building on the site were thwarted, but Friedman noted the owner cannot redevelop it for industry or manufacturing.

The Decatur Street property is located within the “South of Myrtle Avenue (SOMA)” Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) recently created by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, according to Ted Renz, executive director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation. The IBZ aims to preserve industries in the zone while also attracting new businesses to the area.

Since the property is in the SOMA district, he noted, under IBZ rules “no residential development is permitted” and the application “should be withdrawn.” Renz, however, suggested “it may be time to think outside the box” and consider MX experimental zoning to allow for light industry on the ground floor and residential units above.

Two area residents charged they were concerned the proposed residential development would drive up housing costs throughout the neighborhood and price existing residents out of the area.

“We need development that takes into account the needs of all residents,” said Raquel Namuche. “If you’re considering rezoning, talk to us about what we really need. … Do we really need a residential building with a penthouse?”

Manny Jalonschi echoed those sentiments but also expressed concern about the potential loss of manufacturing space, noting that industrial jobs in Ridgewood “are some of the best jobs” residents could get. He also cautioned that the Decatur Street site is located “300 feet” from the radioactive Superfund site, the former Wolff-Alport factory located at the corner of Irving Avenue and Cooper Street.

“Nobody should live around that,” Jalonschi said.

Walter Sanchez, Board 5’s first vice chairperson and chair of its Zoning and Land Use Committee, said the panel would examine the plan and make a recommendation at its next meeting. The recommendation for or against the project would come before the full board for a vote in June.

Changing R’wood intersection

Two Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives provided an overview of proposed changes to the intersection of Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue and Palmetto Street designed to make the Ridgewood intersection safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.

Queens DOT Commissioner Dalila Hall and Nicole Altmix, project manager, stated the changes-which include curb extensions, new or repainted crosswalks and retimed traffic signals-aim to reduce accidents at the intersection, which had two fatalities and 29 injuries between 2008 and 2012.

Board 5 and neighboring Brooklyn Community Board 4 first received and reviewed the proposal in April, as previously reported in the Times Newsweekly.

According to Altmix, 15 of the 29 injuries were pedestrians struck by vehicles as they crossed the streets. Poor visibility played roles in many of the accidents, as the elevated M line runs directly above the intersection.

Nonetheless, pedestrian traffic is high in the area since it is a transit hub near the Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues subway station and the Ridgewood Intermodal Terminal, where six bus lines stop.

The DOT proposal includes banning six turning movements considered to be the most conflicting and dangerous to pedestrians, Altmix added. The proposed turns to be eliminated include right turns from northbound Palmetto Street to eastbound Myrtle Avenue; right turns from northbound Wyckoff Avenue onto eastbound Myrtle Avenue; right turns from eastbound Myrtle Avenue to southbound Wyckoff Avenue; left turns from westbound Myrtle Avenue to southbound Wyckoff Avenue; and right turns from southbound Wyckoff Avenue onto westbound Myrtle Avenue.

Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri stated the board’s Transportation and Public Transit committees would examine the plan at its next meeting, which took place on Tuesday, May 20. The committees were expected to form a recommendation for or against the project that the full board would vote on in June.

Other news

Several individuals-including Board 5 member Richard Huber and Glendale resident Dawn Scala- spoke out against the proposed homeless shelter in Glendale and urged residents to voice their opposition at a Board 5 public hearing on the project, scheduled for tonight (Thursday, May 22), at 7:30 p.m. at Christ the King Regional High School’s auditorium.

Joann Berger, president of the District 24 Presidents’ Council, voiced opposition to the plan in advance of the hearing, charging that the shelter-which will house up to 125 families, mostly single mothers with children-could put further strain on an already overcrowded public school system.

Melissa Alke, a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Middle Village Relay for Life, appealed for volunteers to help set up and cleanup at the fund-raising event scheduled for the weekend of June 21-22 at Juniper Valley Park. For further information, visit www.relayforlife.org/middlevillage.

Board members observed a moment of silence for Ann Griffin, a 15-year member of the advisory body who died last week. District Manager Gary Giordano remembered her for her years of volunteer work at Maspeth Town Hall and advocacy for the Maspeth community.

Nominations

The board opened nominations for its Executive Committee positions. All of the incumbents were re-nominated for another term in office. They are Chairperson Arcuri, First Vice Chairperson Sanchez, Second Vice Chairperson Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Treasurer Kathy Masi, Secretary Margaret O’Kane and At- Large Members Patricia Grayson, Fred Haller, John Maier and Ted Renz.

A second nominating round will be held immediately prior to the Executive Committee elections, scheduled for the board’s June meeting.

Demolition notices

Arcuri announced that the board received demolition notices for three Glendale properties: 78-15 68th Ave., 89-02 Metropolitan Ave. and 89-30 Cooper Ave. It also received a notice for the demolition of 57-39 82nd St. in Middle Village.

Board members were advised to keep a careful eye on activities at each location and to report any questionable practices.

Liquor licenses

The board also received the following liquor license applications:

– New liquor licenses for Minderbender Enterprises LLC, d.b.a. Milo’s Yard, located at 564 Seneca Ave. in Ridgewood; and AJC Pub and BBQ Inc. for a business to be determined, located at 64-56 Dry Harbor Rd. in Middle Village (formerly Danny Boy’s restaurant).

– A liquor license renewal for JT(NY) Restaurant Corp., d.b.a. Johnny’s Café II, located at 60-39 Fresh Pond Rd. in Maspeth.

– New wine and/or beer licenses for Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar LLC, located at 818 Woodward Ave. in Ridgewood; and Sal’s Pizza Inc., located at 52-20 Flushing Ave. in Maspeth.

– Wine and/or beer license renewals for St. Mark Deli & Grocery Inc., located at 60-79 Fresh Pond Rd. in Maspeth; and Bonavita Deli Corp., located at 465 Fairview Ave. in Ridgewood.

It was also announced that KRG Pub Inc., d.b.a. Bridie’s Bar & Grill, located at 63-28 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park, intends to include an outdoor patio deck within its liquor license parameters.

Those wishing to comment on any of the applications may do so by calling Board 5’s office at the number listed at the end of this article.

The next monthly Community Board 5 meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, June 11, at 7:30 p.m. at Christ the King Regional High School, located at 68-02 Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village. For more information, call Board 5’s Glendale office at 1-718-366-1834.

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