Plans to build a new apartment complex in College Point received opposition from some residents who live in the neighborhood voicing concerns of pedestrian and traffic congestion.
A group of College Point residents and Community Board 7 members on Monday night rejected the developer’s request to construct a three-story, 10-unit residential building at 6-05 129th St. on an overgrown lot located partially in the bed of a mapped unbuilt portion of Sixth Avenue, contrary to City Law Section 35 in an R3-2/R3-1 zoning district.
“Years ago the city created maps and they had an idea of where streets were going to go. Through the years they thought they would build those streets,” said Eric Palatnik, a lawyer representing the property owner. “In this case, they put a map down over Powell’s Cove Boulevard and Sixth Avenue runs through the property, but the owner can’t build on it because the city has a map and the map says a street is supposed to be there.”
Under the General City Law, if the city has no intention of building a street, the property owner can request permission from the city to build a development on it, according to Palatnik.
Originally slated to be a 45-foot-tall structure with 24-units, building adjustments were made following a meeting with the Community Board 7 Land Use Committee and residents’ concerns of the development in the rural neighborhood.
“The apartment building is 10-units, a mix of one- to two-bedroom units,” Palatnik said. “It’s down from 24 units and it’s not covering anywhere near the amount of lot coverage. It’s leaving a backyard of about 123 feet, the front yard of 15 feet with twice as much parking, and 10,000 square feet smaller as it’s allowed to be.”
However, residents who live on the block refused to welcome the idea of a new apartment building that they say will cause a disruption in the quiet residential area.
“I appreciate the developer working with us with concerns about parking, sanitation, the beauty of the building and all, but it’s still out of context with the block,” said Robert Gonzalez, who lives across the street from the property. “It’s just going to bring a density to the block. We’re worried that it’s going to spread to other lots. There’s a lot next door where a fire occurred at a house and we’re wondering what’s going to happen to that.”
Michael Niebauer, president of the College Point Civic and Taxpayer’s Association, said the development is simply “out of character” for the community.
“The beauty of College Point is one- to two-family homes,” said Niebauer. “We have to protect the quality of life in College Point. I want to keep it a residential area but whatever the neighbors want I’ll go with it because they’re the ones that are being impacted directly. Right now as it stands, I don’t think it could be approved.”
In her speech to the board and the developer, Eileen McGuirk, said the multi-family rental dwelling will bring an unwanted urban environment.
“There are beautiful one-, two-, and three-family homes all owned by landlords, some of whom emigrated from Italy, Greece, China, Germany, Spain, Korea and Columbia, who made the lifelong decision and chose to live away from the urban, busy congested neighborhoods such as Astoria or Long Island City,” said McGuirk. “Please take no offense to those areas; I was born and raised in Astoria then moved to College Point in 1978, 41 years ago. It’s just not appropriate in a neighborhood existing of only homeowners who are grateful to live the American dream with a rural comfortable, safe and quiet neighborhood.”
McGuirk also stressed the fact that the proposed development will be located one block from P.S. 129, which is scheduled to have over 500 more students in September 2020.
“Traffic is horrendous now: just ask the homeowners, teachers and parents who live and come here. 129th Street and Sixth Avenue is an intersection not equipped for increased motor vehicle traffic,” said McGuirk. “Also expect illegal U-turns each day with at least 10 to 20 vehicles used the renters. Don’t forget visitors, deliveries, vans, mail and sanitation trucks who are required to back down the little dead-end street, which is unsafe for everyone.”
Following the presentation and discussion, CB 7 member Chuck Apelian, along with other board members voted against the proposal.
“At the end of the day if BSA can understand this then maybe I’ll say yes. But let me tell you something: I can’t vote yes tonight because I don’t know what I’m voting on … I don’t know where the street is. There’s landlocked properties. We’re still not getting straight answers and I don’t want it to be on us or me saying we voted yes and find out that something is wrong, so I’m going to vote no.”