CB7 recommends rezoning of Waterpointe site

By Madina Toure

Community Board 7 is looking to rezone the Waterpointe site in Whitestone because it contends the developer did not provide a deed restriction ensuring that only homes are built at the site. The developer maintains that it has provided the board with everything it has requested.

At its monthly board meeting Nov. 9 at the Union Care Plaza Center at 33-23 Union St. in Flushing, the board recommended that the 18-acre site, on which 52 single-family homes will be built, be downzoned specifically for residential family homes.

Gene Kelty, CB 7’s chairman, said the developer, Edgestone Group, did not provide a deed restriction for the site at 151-45 Sixth Road.

“Now that they didn’t do what we asked them to do, which was a deed restriction, and we’re not positive they’re going to build exactly what they said they were going to build, that’s why we want to change the zoning,” Kelty said.

The Bayrock Group bought the site for $25 million in 2008, according to Joe Sweeney, chairman of CB7’s consumer affairs committee.

The company was fined $150,000 by the state Department of Environmental Conservation because the company was filling the contaminated soil at the site with newly contaminated soil, contrary to brownfield cleanup program, Sweeney said.

After Bayrock went bankrupt, the Edgestone Group bought the site in 2011 for $11.3 million and applied to build 52 homes and a public waterfront park on the site, he said.

Sweeney said the board met with the company on numerous occasions between 2011 and 2015. Due to groundwater vaporizing upward and potentially causing leaks in the homes, an alarm system would need to be placed in the basement of each home, Sweeney explained.

The state also requires the homes to be inspected, along with a report, and the homeowner’s association would be responsible for ensuring this occurs. The board asked Edgestone to set up a fund to offset the costs of the inspections.

Sweeney claims that Sultana and Edgestone’s owner told the board that with the cleanup cost, it would be more feasible to build townhouses with 110 units, but the company backed off through public pressure.

Sweeney said that what Sultana presented at the Nov. 9 meeting was a confirmatory deed, which corrects any errors in an existing deed property. But a deed restriction restricts the property to whatever has been proposed in that document, he said.

“A deed restriction would basically say that you cannot … it’s 52 homes and therefore that’s all you can do and it’s restricted to do that,” he said.

Joseph Sultana, an architect who represented Edgestone Group at the CB 7 board meeting, said that when they met with the board early in October, the board asked them to provide a notarized letter from the property owner stating that the developer will put in place a deed restriction.

He said the board promised to vote on the special permit for the property in return.

The developer sent the letter to the board for approval but did not hear back. The board then decided to table a decision and told Edgestone that it wanted a deed restriction, he said. Sultana said the developer e-mailed the board a copy of the deed restriction it requested Nov. 4 but at the Nov. 9 meeting, they were told that the deed restriction was not good enough.

“We reached out to the community board a number of times after the meeting to verify the language they want on the deed restriction and the community board hasn’t called back,” Sultana said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.