Photo by Carlotta Mohamed
Community Board 7 members listen to a proposed commercial development rezoning in Whitestone at the meeting held at the Union Care Plaza Center in Flushing.

Community Board 7 members on Monday voted in approval of a two-story warehouse building in College Point and a commercial development rezoning in Whitestone. 

A special permit zoning resolution was granted to modify the existing one-story manufacture warehouse at 18-17 130 St. in College Point with a proposed two-story enlargement and front and side yard. The building will contain 5,965.40 square feet of floor area, the maximum permitted in the M1-1 zoning district, and will provide seven parking spaces on the ground floor. 

“The main glitch is we’re in the College Point Industrial Park and the purpose of the park was that new developments within the College Point Industrial Park was supposed to have front yards and side yards,” said Erik Palatnik, an attorney representing the property owner. “There are no side yards if you’ve driven down 130th Street and there are no front yards.”

The Board’s City Planning & Land Use Committee met with the applicant on Sept. 9 with a motion to approve, according to CB 7 member Chuck Appelian. The board conducted a final vote Monday night of 35 in favor to approve the project. 

Another project regarding a commercial overlay rezoning at 147-40 15th Ave. was approved with a final vote of 23-13. 

The application would create a new C1-2 commercial overlay (allowing for commercial buildings to be constructed in a residential zoning) in an R3A District affecting four lots on a single tax block to facilitate legal commercial use, three of which are not under the property owner’s control. 

The property was purchased in 2015 by the owners under the guidance that it can be used as a commercial building, which was historically used as a cabinet factory and a daycare, according to Jay Goldstein, an attorney representing the property owners.

Friedhelm Morgstein, who has lived in Whitestone since 1942 and moved into the neighborhood in 1982, opposed the development due to additional commercial zoning and traffic in the area. 

“The neighborhood was relatively quiet. We didn’t have nearly as much commercial business as we do now,” Morgstein said. “They have a beer garden, a restaurant on the corner and we have a gas station that is formally 24 hours. As a homeowner, I’m obligated to not make noise after 10 o’clock on an evening, but at the gas station people come in and vacuum their cars at 2 o’clock in the morning and gas fumes coming into my home night and day. The last thing we need is another piece of commercial property in our neighborhood.” 

Meanwhile, the proposal of mega-store and retail chain Total Wine & More in College Point was brought before the board, which has no authority over the approval of the store obtaining a liquor license. 

“When we do respond it’s usually after a liquor license has been issued, then we get notified when someone is having issues with the location … that’s when we can write to the NYS Liquor Authority and say there’s a problem,” said CB 7 Chair Eugene Kelty. “We don’t approve any of the liquor licenses.”

Paul Lau, a lifelong Queens resident, expressed his concern over the possible opening of Total Wine & More at the former site Toys ‘R’ Us site at 30-02 Whitestone Expy., in College Point. 

“I’m totally against it mainly because the area is already congested and, second, how many more liquor stores do we need in this area, you know? And third, it’s just a matter of quality of life,” Lau said. 

Herbert Cheng, owner of New Golden Wine & Liquor at 41-08 Bell Blvd. in Bayside, said their team leaders and politicians need to stand by the business merchants fighting to keep Total Wine out of Queens.

“A lot of the politicians didn’t know it was Total Wine behind this because they were using MCT Fine Wine & Spirits on the application,” Cheng said. “We literally work hard, all of the local store owners. They [Total Wine & More] have almost 200 stores across the U.S. They are a national chain … Mom-and-pop stores can’t compete at that level; it’s a different level of playing field.”

“But so far we’re doing good and recently state Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz rescinded her support for Total Wine. We got to fight this off; there’s no other way,” Cheng added.

While business merchants are fighting against Total Wine & More, opponents of the controversial College Point homeless shelter that will house 200 men at 127-03 20th Ave. are also on edge awaiting the shelter’s opening on Oct. 2.

“The College Point Resident’s Coalition has hired an attorney, that will go to court on the 25th to get an injunction to try to stop the opening of the shelter. If he fails there, on Friday the 27th, he will go to the appellate division to stop the opening of the shelter. As soon as we have anymore information, we will get it out to the community,” said Kim Cody, CB 7 member and president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayer’s Civic Association.

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