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Spg. Gardens asks borough to stop motel construction

Springfield Gardens community leaders pleaded with the Borough Board’s Land Use Committee during a hearing last week not to allow construction to continue on a controversial motel on North Conduit Avenue, contending the site could pose potential dangers for students at nearby Springfield Gardens High School.

Attorney Elizabeth Safian, representing developer Saliesh Ghandi, asked the board to extend the allowed construction period for the hotel, which would be located at 219−05 N. Conduit Ave. in Springfield Gardens. The hotel would include 65 rooms and 22 parking spaces, she said.

The request follows Community Board 13’s raucous November meeting, at which the board unanimously disapproved of the project.

“They have made substantial progress on the completion of the foundation,” Safian said. “We’ve had substantial expenditures.”

But community leaders said the motel should not be located so close to the high school. They said it was not needed in the neighborhood due to the glut of hotels near John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Community leaders said they were concerned that should the motel not attract overnight customers, it could become a “hot−sheets” motel, at which customers could pay hourly rates for a room.

“This is the typical way,” Democratic District Leader Jacqueline Boyce said. “They come to our community and we explain why we do not want this motel. Then they come in and do what they want anyway.”

Accountant Patrick Evans, who is also the president of the Springfield Gardens Taxpayers and Citizens Association, said the community would support the construction of a building on the site that could act as a senior center or a youth center.

“This is right across the street from a high school and a quiet section of Queens,” he said. “There is no profit from hotel travelers because no one from JFK would come this far for a motel.”

The city Department of Buildings issued a stop−work order and stopped construction, which began last May, at the motel three months ago after new zoning rules for the neighborhood were passed by the City Council in September.

The Council approved the rezoning of 220 blocks of Laurelton and Springfield Gardens, changing the neighborhoods from C2−2 zoning to a C1−1 designation. Under the new zoning, the developer would not be able to create a three−story motel. The foundation for the motel was not completed before the new zoning passed.

Ghandi has filed an appeal with the Boards of Standards and Appeals to resume construction.

Safian said city rules would allow the hotel to complete construction because it was started before the new rules passed. She said excavation at the site began in 2005.

But Deputy Borough President Karen Koslowitz said she was concerned about how the hotel would make money in the neighborhood if it could not attract travelers from JFK.

“We all know if a hotel does not get customers in the rooms, they will do what it takes to get money,” she said. “They are built to make a profit.”

Councilman James Sanders (D−Laurelton) took dozens of protesters to Gandhi’s front doorstep in Great Neck, L.I., last summer to voice their concerns, but he was not home.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at n@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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