Fresh Meadows community leaders are worried that the pending eviction of the day care center on the Klein Farm could be the sign of a possible move by the land’s owner to sell or develop the site.
City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) and state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D−Little Neck) joined civic leaders and nearby residents outside the Apple Tree Day Care center at 194−15 73rd Ave. Saturday to protest the eviction notice that was handed down by controversial developer Tommy Huang in April.
Li Chen, who has been running the day care center at a leased house on the farm since last year, said she was told to leave the property by June 30 by Huang’s Flushing−based development company, Audrey Realty, and was given no reason.
“Why all of a sudden would they evict a paying tenant?” Avella asked.
Chen, whose day care has about 40 children, said she signed a two−year lease for the property last year and one of stipulations in the lease stated that she would have to move out if the land was sold. When she contacted Audrey Realty for an explanation about the eviction, she said the agency did not give her a straight answer.
“On the notice, they didn’t say they sold the property, but [Audrey] told us it was sold,” she said.
A representative for Audrey Realty could not be reached for comment.
The farm was the last privately owned farm in the city until 2003, when Huang purchased it. The developer tried to develop the farmland into private homes, but a large public outcry from the community has prevented it so far, according to Avella.
The land is also zoned as a special preservation district that restricts what Huang can and cannot build, Weprin said.
“This is not like any other area,” the assemblyman explained. “In order for any development to be done ... it has to get approval from the City Council.”
The Klein family owned and operated the farm for decades and even sold some of their produce on a stand located in front of their property, according to Tammy Osherov, a member of the Greater Fresh Meadows Community Coalition.
“It was such a special jewel of the community,” she said.
The councilman said he does not know if Huang has sold the farm, but urged the city to purchase the land and let the Queens County Farm Museum run it so it could not be altered by the controversial developer.
James Trent, president of the Queens County Farm Museum, said the farm is a significant historical piece of land that should be preserved for future generations.
“We would restore the house to its 1930s look and resume the farming,” he said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.
©2009 Community News Group
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