— Days Without Shea —

The Willets Point Industry and Realty Association sent around a video today to back their claim that Community Board 7 Board ignored its own conditions of approval last June when it approved the Willets Point redevelopment plan.

No matter your beliefs, this is a wonderful clip of a local community board in action...

From the press release:

(New York, NY) September 4, 2008 – Willets Point business and land owners today released a video revealing the Queens Community Board 7 vote may have to be converted to a "No".  The video, produced by the Willets Point Industry and Realty Association (WPIRA) can be viewed at: http://wpira.com/Behind%20the%20Curbline.htm or by going to www.wpira.com.          


In June, the Land Use Committee of CB7 held several meetings to review the EDC's plan to rezone and redevelop Willets Point. After the final Committee meeting on June 23, it was very clearly stated by the Community Board Chair Gene Kelty and the Committee Chair Chuck Apelian that the Board required several "mandatory" concessions from the EDC before the Board would approve the plan. If these recommendations were not agreed to by the EDC or adopted by the CPC in its final approval, the CB7 vote would convert to a "no."


At the final hearing and board vote on June 30, 2008, the Chair Chuck Apelian, read a letter from Deputy Mayor Robert Leiber which he claimed addressed most—if not all—of the Board's concerns. The video provides a side-by-side comparison of the Board's Conditions set forth on June 23 and the EDC's response on June 30.  It is clear from the Video that CB7 did not receive the mandatory concessions it required before approving the plan. WPIRA has distributed the video to the City Planning Commission and will distribute it to all members of the to NYC Council.


Dan Feinstein, President of Feinstein Iron Works, said, "If not for the strong-arm tactics of Board Chairman Gene Kelty and Willets Point Committee Chairman Chuck Apelian, it's clear the majority of board members would have voted against this illegal land grab.  Kelty and Apelian clearly went over the line and IGNORED the interests of the very people they are supposed to represent."


"Kelty and Apelian should be removed from office immediately, and the board members should call for a new vote now that Kelty and Apelian's betrayal has been laid bare for all to see," Feinstein said. "Kelty himself said the board's approval would turn into a 'No' vote if its conditions are ignored. To date, there is no evidence the Administration will do anything but pay lip service to Community Board 7 and no evidence Apelian and Kelty will ever standup for the residents of Queens. While it's clear the board's 'Yes' vote really meant 'No,' it's time for the board to make clear that Apelian and Kelty's shameful sellout will not succeed."


As the video clearly demonstrates, the board members made clear with their conditions that they do not support eminent domain and the plan as currently proposed by the EDC. The Board's conditions for approval included:


·       More affordable housing – the board wants 30 percent of the project devoted to real affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers, while the City has continued to offer only20 percent for low and middle-income families;


·       A substantial traffic mitigation fund – the board has asked for 10 percent of the project cost for traffic mitigation (about $300 million) - the city has continued to offer the community board only $5 million to mitigate the impacts of this project. This in spite of the City's admission that the traffic impacts of the project are an incurable problem;


·       Real Community Board oversight of the project – the board wants an ongoing and active oversight role in the project if it moves forward, while the city has promised only quarterly advisory meetings with an unknown developer who will have no obligation to heed the community's advice or concerns;


·       Limited use of eminent domain to obtain private property for use by a private developer – while the Board acknowledged the possible need for eminent domain, it demanded the City exhaust all efforts to relocate current businesses before considering the use of eminent domain.

Anthony Fodera of Fodera Foods said, "The City will continue to make claims of good faith in dealing with the business owners of Willets Point, but we know their word is as good as Kelty's and Apelian's. We will take this fight to the City Council, and beyond if necessary. We will not relent in our efforts to fight for our rights and our private property."

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