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Queens Chronicle

Huang houses remain eyesore in Bayside

Neighbor and community leaders are calling for resolution to situation

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Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:30 am

At the edge of 223rd Street in Bayside, four derelict houses built by the Huang family sit. And Pat Martin, who lives next door to the buildings, has finally had enough.

“Something has to happen,” Martin told the Chronicle. “Something constructive.”

A recent request by the office of Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) asking the Huang family to clean up the property resulted in a mowed lawn, while the Department of Transportation removed graffiti from the wall on the lot facing the Cross Island Parkway.

“The Huangs’ property has been a blight on the Bayside community for years but I’m glad the owners have agreed to be more proactive in maintaining the landscape around the homes,” Vallone said in a statement.

Still, a long-term solution to the issue remains to be seen.

The four properties came to be after a home at 39-39 223 St. was sold in 2002 and torn down, and by late 2005, most of the construction for four single-family homes and three garages was done. Huang also created a private road for the properties — Mia Drive — which is listed as the street for the address of three of the buildings.

Martin estimates that the loss in property value for the homes next to the eyesore houses resulted in the sale of a nearby house netting $100,000 less than it would have without the languishing properties.

In 2004, a retaining wall on the property — which was then in construction — collapsed onto Martin’s yard. “They did not shore it and they left the excavation open over the winter,” she said. In response, she successfully sued for property damage.

When the Department of Buildings granted permits for the houses, it did so on the basis that the fourth house on the property would be a “through lot,” which means that it has frontage on two public streets.

In the case of the development’s fourth house, the two public streets would be Mia Drive and the Cross Island Parkway, which is located behind the property. However, the agency later reversed its decision, determining that the project did not meet the definition of a through lot.

In 2010, Huang successfully filed with the Board of Standards and Appeals to continue development under prior zoning regulations at the troubled site, because the area was rezoned after the houses were first built.

Stop-work orders were issued for the three properties on Mia Drive in 2012 because of construction being done with expired permits have not been lifted, though they were partially rescinded for repairs at the site in 2013.

With the same agency, the owner applied for a variance to have the rear yard for each house declared legal, in 2012. The variance has not been granted or denied. However, according to BSA spokesman Ryan Singer, the agency issued a notification-of-termination for the application on Monday because the Huangs have not responded to the notice-of-comments given by the agency.

Thousands of dollars in fines also need to be paid for the houses. Compounding the issue with the stop-work orders, the fines would have to be resolved before a certificate of occupancy could be obtained to legalize the houses for residential use.

Huang pleaded guilty in 1999 to two felony charges related to his destruction of landmarked portions of the RKO Keiths’ theater in Flushing. In 2011, he was ordered to pay $26,400 after an investigation following a worker’s death at one of his construction sites found safety violations.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) told the Chronicle that he has previously reached out to the DOB about possibly introducing legislation that would give the agency the authority to force a resolution in situations like the one with Huang’s houses on 223rd Street.

The senator added that he plans on meeting with DOB officials to try and figure out a way to solve the situation afflicting Martin and her neighbors after the state legislative session is over.

According to Martin, an agreement must be reached between the Department of Buildings and the Huang family, who could not be reached for comment.

“I hope they do the right thing at some point and finish it off,” Community Board 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld said. “I’m sure that’s what everybody would like to see happen.”

According to land use expert Paul Graziano, the Huang family’s history of development malpractice could make a resolution difficult. “The Huangs are terrible actors,” he said. “They should be in jail.”

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