Judge rules in favor of Maspeth residents in getting important documents on the Holiday Inn shelter

File photo/QNS

The community of Maspeth continues to rack up victories against the city and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) in their yearlong fight against the Holiday Inn Express homeless shelter in Maspeth, as a judge recently ruled in favor of their push to get the Request For Proposal (RFP) plans on the shelter.

In 2016, under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), the Citizens for a Better Maspeth group requested that DHS provide them with the RFP and related documents pertaining to the Holiday Inn Express, located at 59-40 55th Rd., being converted into a homeless shelter and that the space would conform to the current zoning restrictions of the area.

On Sept. 27, the judge ruled in favor of the group’s Article 78 motion.

“It is ordered and adjudged that the petition is granted solely to the extent that respondents are directed to provide petitioner with copies of the Request For Proposals that were received in connection with the proposal to convert the subject Holiday Inn Express to a homeless shelter, and any and all plans submitted along with the RFPs which demonstrate that the space would be a conforming use under the Zoning Resolution; and it is further ordered and adjudged that the remainder of the petition is denied in its entirety,” Judge Allan B. White said in the ruling, which Citizens for a Better Maspeth, a party to the motion, sent to QNS.

The hotel/shelter sits in a manufacturing zone, which only permits short-stay hotels to operate. According to Christina Wilkinson, president of Citizens for a Better Maspeth, the shelter’s operator, Acacia, has been renting rooms to homeless individuals for more than 30 days at a time which would go against the zoning regulations.

Citizens for a Better Maspeth hopes the findings in the RFPs will bolster the property owner’s lawsuit against the hotel, which looks to bring a case against the hotel for allegedly violating the zoning regulations.

“The property owner has argued a violation of the zoning code in their lawsuit against the hotel and once we receive the info from the city we will share it with the property owner to strengthen their case,” Wilkinson told QNS. “We also may proceed with our own lawsuit based on the zoning, but that will only be determined after review of the information provided and consulting with our attorneys.”

In their 2016 FOLI request Citizens for a Better Maspeth also asked for the statistics regarding homeless individuals in the system and a request for the original building plans. Both of these requests were denied by the judge.