Make a promise, keep a promise.
Members of the Community Board 7 Zoning Committee on the Whitestone Waterpointe redevelopment project recommended last week renewal of the project’s special permit on one condition: that the deed include a restriction that no more than 52 homes could be built on the 18-acre site.
“My feeling is that I’m not going to spend years and years on this and then be put into a corner with a gun to my head saying, ‘You know what, you’d better approve this,’” Zoning Committee Chair Joe Sweeney said.
The Waterpointe development has faced community opposition in the past due to proposed changes that would have seen 107 townhouses built on the space instead of the originally planned 52 single-family homes. As most of the townhouses would have been two-family buildings, this would have resulted in a total of 203 units in the space, or around four times the original amount.
The changes were abandoned after an uproar from community board members and civic groups, and developers have since gone back to the original plan.
The project’s architect, Joe Sultana, was at the meeting representing the site owners, the Edgestone Group. He brought with him a letter of intent from owner Gavin Feng, in which he indicated that Edgestone would not build more than the agreed-upon 52 homes. Sweeney, however, said that he would not accept anything less than a legal deed restriction to allow the renewal of the special permit with the City’s Board of Standards and Appeals.
A decision on whether or not to endorse its renewal must be made as soon as possible so that the project can be presented to the public in the next CB 7 meeting scheduled for Monday, Oct. 19.
According to Sweeney, the zoning committee will meet again several hours before the meeting to take a final vote on whether to approve the special permit based on whether the deed restriction has been filed. He said that if the deed restriction is not procured, the community board may take their fight to the borough president and try to downzone the area to codify a smaller scale of development.
The special permit for the project’s construction expires on Dec. 9. If it is not renewed, the Edgestone Group will have to undergo a lengthy process to reapply for another permit to develop the property.
When contacted by The Courier, Sultana was not available for additional comment.