2009-05-01 / Top Stories

Dozens To Lose Land In City Grab

By Howard Schwach

The city will soon move in Queens Supreme Court to take some of the front footage from homes in the Arverne area. Notice that some of the homes, such as this one on Beach 45 Street has little frontage and would likely lose its staircase to the project. The city will soon move in Queens Supreme Court to take some of the front footage from homes in the Arverne area. Notice that some of the homes, such as this one on Beach 45 Street has little frontage and would likely lose its staircase to the project. If the city has its way, dozens of Arverne homeowners will be losing varying portions of their land to a new sewer project designed to accommodate the construction of homes in the planned Arverne East development.

Attorneys for the New York City Corporation Counsel will move in Queens Civil Supreme Court on May 9 to take the land by condemnation.

According to city officials, the area of land taken from each home in the impacted area will vary from nothing to a dozen feet and will be used to widen the streets in order to accommodate the new sewers.

Those sewers, they say, will be necessary when the dozens of new homes are occupied in coming years.

According to the court papers, the impacted area encompasses:

Beach 43 Street, from Beach Channel Drive to the Conch Basin bulkhead.

A city survey map of the impacted area. A city survey map of the impacted area. Beach 44 Street, from Beach Channel Drive to Conch Road.

Beach 45 Street, from Beach Channel Drive to Norton Avenue.

Conch Drive, from Beach 43 Street to the Norton Basin bulkhead.

Norton Avenue, from Beach 45 Street to Beach 43 Street.

Edgemere Drive, from Beach 44 Street to Beach 43 Street.

Hantz Road, from Beach 45 Street to Beach 44 Street.

Conch Road, from Beach 43 Street to Beach 44 Street.

According to the court papers, the land grab is needed for the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Transportation in order for the two city agencies to complete the sewer project.

Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska says that the project will have little impact on most homeowners.

"The city plans to take only small tracts of land, and most of the people who live in that area will not be affected at all," Gaska told The Wave on Monday. "This project is not set to begin until next fall at the earliest, so this is not something that's going to happen right away.

Some homeowners will lose a couple of feet from their front yards. In some cases, the city has owned the land all along and the homeowners always believed that it was theirs."

Homeowners, however, plan to fight the land grab.

William Brown, who owns a home in the area and is an attorney in Corona, has reportedly filed papers with the court to act as the attorney of record for the homeowners, many of whom plan to form a defense group.

While Brown could not be reached for comment, The Wave spoke with Harry Herrarte, whose parents own three properties in the affected area.

"The city just notified us of this on April 17, and now they want to take away the front yard and a portion of the front porch," he said. "Nobody seems to understand what this is and why it's happening. Nobody seems to want to help us keep our homes intact."

City officials say, however, that the plan has been on the books for years, and that it is now time to move ahead. The official, who asked not to be identified, said that homeowners in the area need relief any time there is a big storm or when a combination of a storm and a high tide impact the area.

"The area really floods badly now and needs new sewers, especially with all the new construction going on."

The city is just doing its job," one city spokesperson said. "Some homeowners will lose a small portion of their front yard, most will lose nothing at all."

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