Community Board 11 dealt controversial developer Tommy Huang a blow on Nov. 5 by unanimously voting against a variance that would allow the convicted felon to finish work on four homes in Bayside.
The development became a sore point within the community after the Department of Buildings slammed it with repeated violations, while reportedly shoddy construction work led to all manner of headaches.
Many at the board meeting argued the houses never should have received DOB approval. The subsequent subdued meeting — an anomaly for Huang-related projects — resulted in a prompt “no.”
“The members argued it should never have been built and of course there were accusations by people that it was unscrupulous,” said District Manager Susan Seinfeld. “It was very calm because everybody knew they were just going to go ‘no.’”
Huang bought a one-family home at 39-39 223 St. in 2002, then promptly tore it down and replaced it with small one-family houses. A snafu at the DOB forced Huang to file for a variance in order to complete the work.
Work on the houses has been suspended as a result of a stop work order. The community board’s vote against the variance will be passed along to the Board of Standards and Appeals for a final decision. Should the BSA also rebuff Huang’s application, he must navigate the courts to reverse the decision.
The resulting unoccupied and incomplete homes, one with the original address and three others at 39-01, 39-15 and 39-19 Mia Drive, have been a source of constant headaches.
The developer faces 13 open DOB violations of 17 total issued, as well as one open of 29 Environmental Control Board violations. The property also has 93 complaints filed against it.
One home faces 223rd Street, with the others facing Mia Drive, which is an access road. The DOB granted permits for the homes with the stipulation a portion of the property would be a “through lot.” The change allowed Huang to bypass zoning requirements for a backyard and put a small road alongside one of the homes instead, as long as they all had a sprinkler system.
Neighbors and members of the community board quickly noticed a problem — the “through lot” led to a piece of Parks Department property, which was essentially a cliff. Any emergency vehicles using the resulting back road to nowhere would tumble haplessly onto the Cross Island Parkway.
The chronicles of the problematic construction have become rather diverse. There were the attempted dry well installations before a plumbing permit was granted. Not that problematic after all, since the work negated itself by collapsing.
One of the property’s neighbors filed a lawsuit against Huang, claiming workmen caused a retaining wall to collapse by excavating nearby, leading to the loss of three feet of land. The collapse also allegedly destroyed a fence, outdoor lighting, an irrigation system and landscaping.