Tag Archives: DOB

Richmond Hill rezoning wreaks havoc on religious institution


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

A Hindu temple in Richmond Hill has been battling with the Department of Buildings (DOB), after the mandir was hit with several violations that both the building owner and priest say were incorrect and unfair.

The DOB began to issue violations in January for working without permits on electricity and plumbing, said Ali Mahmood, who owns the building on 101st Avenue. He went on to say that the DOB claimed the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for the structure was not listed as commercial.

Mahmood took the agency to court and argued that since the structure was erected before 1938, it did not require a C of O. The entire block, he said, was actually mixed-use and he had been paying commercial taxes on the building for years.

The next court hearing will be on Tuesday, August 21, and Mahmood said he will now have a lawyer with him.

Mahmood, who said he is Muslim, has not taken rent payments from the mandir, as they have not been able to raise money.

The building battle comes as some Richmond Hill residents and business owners protest the zoning laws that were approved late last month.

All projects, a DOB spokesperson said, are affected by new zoning laws, however.

“When it comes to rezoning,” the spokesperson said, “all buildings are impacted if a proposed conversion, enlargement or development is planned.”

Mahin Gosine, the mandir’s priest and a sociology professor, said the larger problem was the city’s attitude toward the Indian community. Right now, he said, the city was enforcing its power on the community to the point where residents feel it is discrimination.

“This is a form of behavior that’s meted out toward the whole Indian community,” Gosine said.

Gosine said the community was open to having a discussion with the city to find out what structures had been built wrong, or what needed to be done to correct things.

“We are willing to sit and talk,” he said, “but the city has to be forthcoming.”

Mahmood also said shutting down the mandir affected the area’s culture, as many residents spend their little time off at their houses of worship.

“The only few hours these people have is used to come to the church to meditate,” Mahmood said. “People [are] trying to preserve their culture.”

National Weather Service issues high wind advisory


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a high wind watch and said damaging winds may blow through the city this weekend.

Strong winds are expected to begin tonight and last into Saturday evening.

Gusts may reach up to 60 mph, with sustained winds of 40 mph, according to the NWS.

The strongest winds will come after midnight.

The winds strength means there is potential for downed trees and power lines.

The Department of Buildings is warning property owners to take precautionary measures to secure safety.  The DOB said to:

  • Bring inside loose, lightweight objects such as lawn furniture, potted plants, garbage cans, garden tools and toys.
  • Anchor objects that would be unsafe outside, such as gas grills or propane tanks.
  • Close up and secure patio umbrellas.
  • Secure retractable awnings.
  • Remove aerial antennas and satellite television dishes.

 

 

Crusade to clean up community


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Robert Holden

A local civic leader wants his community to be a sight for sore eyes, which first requires ridding it of eyesores.

Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, is pushing the Department of Buildings (DOB) to padlock properties with violations and unpaid fines that are a blemish on the community.

After successfully getting the DOB to investigate a scofflaw on 84th Street in Middle Village, Holden is turning his attention to other neighborhood blights — including one at 60-37 Wetherole Street.

The property has nine open violations dating back seven years and $14,500 in unpaid fines, according to DOB records.

Holden said the house has been an eyesore for nearly a decade.

Violations have been levied against the property for failing to maintain the building’s walls and storing vehicles without license plates in the front yard.

The owner of the house is listed as Ted Muschunas, who was unable to be contacted for the story.

55 gang members busted in $2M ID theft ring involving Jewish charity


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

55 gang members busted in $2M ID theft ring involving Jewish charity

Over 50 gang members have been busted for running an identity theft ring that targeted people who’d given to charity, prosecutors announced today. The Manhattan DA’s office said 55 members of the Bloods, Crips and Outlaws were arraigned after taking part in a check scam. Prosecutors said a worker at the United Jewish Appeal, which is based in Midtown, would photocopy checks the charity received from donors. The employee, Tracy Nelson, allegedly sold the checks to the gang members, who then assumed the identities of those who had donated money. As part of the same ID theft ring, prosecutors said they had also arrested three JP Morgan Chase tellers, a worker at TD Bank and a US postal worker. Read More: New York Post

 

In stunner, Stanford yanks tech-campus bid

After months of pressing its case to open a tech campus in the city, Stanford University abruptly pulled out of the competition Friday. In a statement, Stanford President John Hennessy said, “after several weeks of negotiations with New York City, university leaders and the Stanford Board of Trustees have determined that it would not be in the best interests of the university to continue to pursue the opportunity.” Read More: Crain’s New York

 

The Courier plays Santa for South Queens Boys & Girls Club

The Queens Courier got a sneak peek of what Christmas morning would be like for the youngsters of the South Queens Boys & Girls Club (SQBGC). On Thursday, December 15, Courier reporters — playing Santa and his Christmas elves — distributed hundreds of toys to the club’s underprivileged kids. Read More: Queens Courier

 

DOB Investigates Chelsea Scaffold Collapse

An investigation has been launched after a construction scaffold collapsed onto a busy Manhattan sidewalk during Friday’s morning rush. It happened around 8 a.m. on 14th Street near Seventh Avenue in Chelsea. No one was hurt. “The doorman called up and said we need to evacuate. He didn’t say why. We just looked outside and saw all of the fire trucks and ambulances, so I came down and saw the scaffolding had collapsed,” said one building resident. Read More: NY1

 

Two Missing NJ Girls Found Safe Upstate

Police have tracked down two young New Jersey girls who were the subject of an AMBER Alert earlier this morning. Investigators say Emma Trapp, 5, and her 20-month-old sister Sophia were found unharmed at a motel near Bear Mountain in Orange County. The kids are in the custody right now of the New York State police. Old Bridge police officers and officers, investigators from the Middlesex County prosecutors office are up there right now as well as I understand the FBI,” said Captain Robert Weiss of the Old Bridge Police Department. The girls’ father, Anthony Trapp, 39, was found dead of an apparent suicide inside one of the motel’s rooms. Read More: NY1

 

Bloomberg invites DC lawmakers to attend slain cop’s funeral to highlight illegal gun sales

 

If it were up to him, members of Congress would be attending the funeral of police Officer Peter Figoski to see for themselves the havoc wreaked when an illegal gun falls into the hands of a career criminal. Bloomberg got to discussing illegal weapons in a response to a Tweet on his radio show this morning from a listener asking why the city was wasting so much time pushing for stricter federal gun controls. Read More: Daily News