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Councilman-elect Halloran lays out agenda for district

Dan Halloran said he is vowing to get more money for his district after having been elected Nov. 3 to replace City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) as the representative for northeast Queens.

Halloran, a Republican attorney from Auburndale, told the TimesLedger Newspapers staff during an interview this week that he would follow in Avella’s footsteps by pushing for further downzoning for northeast Queens and challenging the city Department of Buildings’ practices.

But he said he would bring more money to his district, which has one of the highest tax bases.

“Tony Avella had one of the smallest allotments,” he said. “If you are not willing to reach out to the other side and find ways to solve problems together, there are consequences. I don’t think it’s fair that City Council members have to curry favor for allotments. There should be a level playing field.”

The 19th Council District covers Bayside, Auburndale, Douglaston, Whitestone, College Point and East Flushing.

Halloran said he will also focus on the plan to build a police academy in College Point, tax incentives for small businesses, the controversial redevelopment of Willets Point and cutting costs in government once he takes office in January.

One of the first things he said he would do once in office is to push the Department of City Planning to move forward with the rezoning of Auburndale to prevent overdevelopment.

“We’ve got to get through the finalization of zoning issues in the Station Road area,” he said. “I think the city does not want to do the work — they don’t want to conceptually create rowhouse zoning.”

Halloran said he shares Avella’s enthusiasm for reforming the DOB.

“Stop-work orders are not being enforced and approvals that should never have gone through are going through,” he said.

He said he supports the idea of a police academy in College Point, but believes the plans for the site are flawed. The 3-million-square-foot academy will have space for 2,000 recruits per year.

“It’s been a head in the sand approach,” he said. “It’s not a matter of whether it’s a good idea. We need a police academy, but we’re going ahead with a $1.5 billion project, so you’d better do it right.”

He said he does not believe the city has adequately accounted for the impact on infrastructure, the environment, traffic or public transportation in the area surrounding the academy.

Halloran said he wants the city to create more incentives for small businesses in the borough.

“We’re driving business out with the rent tax, property tax and sales tax,” he said. “We need to give property tax rebates as incentives for landlords to lower rents.”

He said small businesses are suffering not only due to the struggling economy but also because of aggressive ticketing by traffic agents, especially on Bayside’s Bell Boulevard.

“Ticket agents should be making sure that traffic is moving along,” he said. “Law enforcement should never be about revenue generation.”

The councilman-elect slammed the city’s use of eminent domain to acquire property at Willets Point, but said the massive redevelopment project that will transform the industrial expanse into a residential and commercial area must move forward.

“The government should never get involved in business,” he said. “They took people’s property for private use. But now they have no choice. Citi Field is there. We made our bed and we have to lie in it.”

Halloran also said he would propose plans to cut costs in city government by merging city agencies he believes are redundant, such as the Housing Authority and its Housing Preservation and Development Department.

“We should streamline and consolidate where we can,” he said. “If we cut city agencies by 30 percent, there would be a huge cut in costs.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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