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Queens Chronicle

Willets Point plan issued a setback

Court rules environmental review is needed

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Posted: Thursday, September 6, 2012 10:30 am

In the ongoing battle between Willets Point United and the city, score one for the little guy.

In a court decision handed down on Aug. 14, the city’s Economic Development Corp. is instructed to provide a full environmental review of Phase 1 work. The court order states that the city cannot proceed with the redevelopment plan until there is an appropriate environmental review, as well as any additional approvals that are needed.

WPU, made up of business and land owners in the disputed 62-acre site, applauded the decision, offering the following statement: “WPU welcomes the court decision that mandates a full environmental review of what the Bloomberg administration calls ‘Phase 1’ of the Willets Point development. This decision upholds the position of WPU and overturns the initial efforts of NYC EDC to avoid scrutiny of this greatly expanded plan — one that alters the original concept passed in 2008 by the City Council.”

Members noted that the revised Phase 1 does not abide by the original plan.

“Gone is the affordable housing and the living wage requirements and in their place is a giant auto-dependent mall proposed to be built on a parking lot designated as parkland. In addition, all the traffic generated will not have any way to be mitigated because no Van Wyck ramps will be built until at least 2025, if then,” the statement said.

“This is, in short, a monstrosity that should be defeated and in no way justifies the condemnation of the property owned, in many instances,by scores of business owners for generations.”

Mayor Bloomberg announced in June the revised plan that includes parking, two hotels and shops in Willets Point and a large shopping center and parking garage on the existing Citi Field parking lot. Still in question is if the developers have the right to build a commercial entity on public parkland in Flushing Meadows Park.

The developers are The Related Companies and Sterling Equities, the real estate arm of the Mets.

A hearing on Willets Point will be held on Sept. 27 at 4:30 p.m. at PS 19, located at 98-02 Roosevelt Ave. in Corona.

Welcome to the discussion.