CB 14 Gives Absentee Developers Thumbs Down
By Miriam Rosenberg
After a series of cancellations and the failure on the part of the developers to submit proposals that would have allowed them to continue construction despite last September's downzoning of the Mott Creek area in Far Rockaway, Community Board 14 unanimously voted to turn down that application, and any others in the future to build under old zoning regulations on Seagirt Avenue or Beach 3 Street.
"Two months ago they were contacted with a [community board] meeting notice, yet they claimed they didn't know about the meeting," said Jonathan Gaska, the district manager for CB 14 at last week's meeting. "They were sent another notice, but again they didn't show."
Gaska told the board that he spoke with the developers' lawyer the afternoon of the meeting and was told the lawyer's clients were not yet ready to submit an application for approval to the community board.
Gaska was reportedly told that a colleague had sent a request for a meeting with the community board prematurely. Gaska said the board could either invite the developers one last time to speak at a future meeting or take a vote right away. "The community would prefer us to render a decision, obviously not in support of it, one way or another," Gaska said.
"The reality is they're too little, too late," board member Jeffrey Cohen said. "They have no standing to come before this board. They can't ask us to violate what we just voted." Cohen was referring to last month's vote against an application by other developers who had started construction in Mott Creek before the downzone.
"The community has always been against it," said Mott Creek resident and board member Jose Velez. "[The residents] do not want this project, not the way they are going to do it."
Al Moore, the co-chair of the board's Land Use committee said, "They're not vested in any manner. I've been to the sites. There are old bungalows on two and a dirt mound on [another]."
Moore said that because of the "hard work by the board and the community to get the downzoning in Mott Creek" the board voted to oppose the current request for a variance and "to oppose any [future] variances to current zoning as it relates to Mott Creek."
Community Board 14 will also be sending letters to the Board of Standards and Appeals and the Borough President's office informing them of the board's decision.