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The smoldering struggle between Dutch Kills residents and a hotel builder flared anew Tuesday as the factions clashed over a variance request that could set the stage for further development in the neighborhood.
The Dutch Kills Civic Association and the Dutch Kills Community Advocacy Unit asked the city Board of Standards and Appeals to forbid real estate developer Steven Bahar from goingahead with the hotel under construction at 39-35 27th St. in the section of Long Island City.
Dutch Kills was zoned for manufacturing in 1961, which allows for hotels to be built. As the city enjoyed a resurgence of tourism in the 1990s and 2000s, more and more boutique hotels went up in Dutch Kills, alarming longtime residents who began to fight for a rezoning to stop the proliferation.
The City Council rezoned the neighborhood in 2008, reducing the maximum height manufacturers — and hoteliers — are allowed to build.
Although Bahar’s $3.8 million plan was one of 14 hotels that was approved by the city Department of Buildings, he was unable to lay the foundation before the rezone took effect, .
“Our neighborhood is like a war zone,” Megan Friedman, assistant director of Dutch Kills Advocacy, said Tuesday. “Please do not allow this man to get away with this. If he gets away with this, many other developers will follow.”
Marvin Mitzner, an attorney representing Bahar, said his client had used his life savings for the project but suffered grievous financial losses because of stop-work orders from the DOB for unsafe working conditions and other grounds as well as from other adverse conditions and circumstances.
Attorney Steven Moffei, representing the Dutch Kills residents, said the problems Bahar complained about “were of his own making.”
Most of the Dutch Kills delegation at the hearing at 40 Rector St., in downtown Manhattan, implored the BSA to order an end to the hotel project.
Dutch Kills Civic member Vienna Ferrara testified that she witnessed violations of stop-work orders at the hotel project.
Christopher Collins, vice chairman of the BSA, questioned Ferrara extensively about her testimony and asked whether she had evidence of violations of stop-work orders and if so to make it available to the board.
“Yes,” Ferrara said. “I have e-mails reporting the violations to the Department of Buildings and maybe other things,” she said.
Meenakshi Srinivasan, chairman of the BSA, announced the hearing would resume March 16. At that time, Mitzner promised he would make clear several issues that board members said were murky.
“I came out of it feeling like it’s not lost,” Dutch Kills Civic President Jerry Walsh said. “He could not have spent $700,000 besides buying the property for almost $1 million,” he said.
Jeremy Walsh contributed to this article.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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