Questioning bad land-use decisions

By Mandingo Osceloa Tshaka

The New York City Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) has a final say on land use issues throughout the five boroughs. They wield a lot of power over our communities. Too much power in my opinion. The BSA needs to be accountable to the taxpayers. The City Council should have the power to review BSA decisions and overturn those that harm our neighborhoods. Conditions adopted into BSA decisions have to be monitored by the Department of Buildings. From what I have seen, the DOB is highly ineffective.

In my neighborhood of Bayside Clear Spring, we have far too many auto related businesses that show no respect for their neighbors. Star Nissan parks more cars than permitted on their back lot. Despite repeated complaints, the Department of Buildings has failed to resolve the problem.

Helms Brothers built an extension of their building into the residential area through various loopholes, in coordination with the BSA and other city agencies. Did anyone in city government think of the residents?

The Getty gas station on Northern Boulevard near 204th Street neglected to renew their variance for years some time back. A letter was written to BSA about this by a civic association. The BSA’s executive director at the time wrote a letter to Getty giving them sixty days to renew or they would have to undergo the variance procedure all over again under the current zoning resolution. The sixty days passed without renewal. When Getty sought to renew, the BSA went back on their word and allowed Getty to get their variance renewal.

Why does my community have such an overabundance of auto related businesses? One does not see this degree of infiltration in adjacent areas. Does the city allow this because of the ethnicity of the people who live in my community? What else can one think but that African American neighborhoods are targeted for the least desirable businesses?

My people will not accept this treatment. We demand fairness and justice.

Mandingo Osceola Tshaka


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