Avella, civic may sue city over Flushing mosque decision – QNS.com

Avella, civic may sue city over Flushing mosque decision

The mosque would be built on the triangular lot located on 46th Avenue and Parsons Blvd.
Photo by Michael Shain
By Gina Martinez

State Sen.Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and members of the Kissena Park Civic Association are considering a lawsuit against the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals after the approval of several variances for a controversial mosque to be built at 46-05 Parsons Blvd. in Flushing.

The group planning to build the mosque, Masjid e-Noor, has been in conflict with Flushing residents for almost two years. Residents have claimed that the issue is not religious intolerance but that the mosque would violate several zoning regulations.

The land on which the mosque would be built is a triangular 4,773-square-foot corner lot. The proposed mosque is expected to accommodate 420 worshipers. About 95 percent of the mosque’s members live in the 11355 zip code where it would be built.

The mosque wants to change the mandated floor area ratio of 0.5 in the R2 district to 1.045. It also wants to cut down a tree and waive the yard and parking requirements. The group sought approvals for variances from the Board of Standards and Appeals. According to Ryan Singer, spokesman for the BSA, all the variances were approved .

“The Board of Standards and Appeals approved the applicant’s request to waive regulations pertaining to maximum floor area regulations, front yard and height and setback to permit a house of worship to be built at 46-05 Parsons Blvd. in Queens on Aug. 2,” he said.

The lawyer for the mosque could not be reached for comment.

Avella thinks the mosque has been given special treatment and wants to sue to overturn the decision.

“The community and I have discussed suing because while this site has been previously granted variance from BSA, the number of variances and severity that the proposed mosque sought was clearly out of character. I believe political influence governed their decision. The BSA was clearly out of bounds,” he said.

Avella said the community believes the mosque is too big for the piece of property it will sit on.

“It’s right next to two-story homes, it will dwarf buildings in area and potentially cause significant traffic in the area,” he said. “It’s too small a site. The community has offered them alternate sites in the area. This has nothing to do with the Muslim religion, it’s just the smallness of the particular site.”

Avella said he will make his decision on whether to file the lawsuit as soon as the BSA officially posts its decision.

“As far as we know, they have to prove the variances,” Avella said. “Very interestingly they have not posted their decision on their website, so we have not seen the official report. It’s been almost a month since they voted. It’s bizarre — they’re supposed to put it up within a day or so after they actually vote. Why the secrecy?”

According to Singer, the decision will be posted soon.

“We will have a resolution out this week,” he said. “There were a high volume of approvals in August and a backlog of resolutions.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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