By Jon Cronin, Editor
After years of fighting for only 52 single-homes at the Waterpointe development along the Whitestone shoreline, residents and civic leaders may finally get what they want.
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) announced that Edgestone Group, the owners of the Waterpointe development, have filed a declaration that will restrict them from building no more than 52 detached single homes.
The declaration is in adherence with a 2008 special permit that was agreed upon with elected officials, residents and civic leaders.
“The community of Whitestone and Community Board 7 are happy that Council Member Vallone and Borough President Melinda Katz were able to intercede and get a deed restriction for the Whitepointe property,” stated Joseph Sweeney, a member of CB 7. “This deed restriction will help secure the preservation of the community in Whitestone forever.”
The residents were concerned because Edgestone Group has an “as of right” development and the previous owner used an unapproved fill to replace contaminated soil. The new fill forced the DEC to change the cleanup to a “Track 4” restricted residential cleanup, which allows for multi-family housing or units with a “common controlling entity,” according to a fact sheet from the DEC explaining the change.
Residents and members of CB 7 contacted Vallone and Borough President Melinda Katz on the matter and they were able to negotiate the new declaration with Edgestone Group.
According to Vallone’s office the new language in the declaration states “that at no time shall the development consist of more than fifty two detached single family houses.”
The deed of each home will state, “that the Subject Property shall be held, sold, transferred, and conveyed, subject to the restrictions and obligations which are for the purpose of protecting the value and desirability of the Subject Property and which shall run with the land, binding the successors and assigns of [the Edgestone Group] so long as they have any right, title or interest in the Subject Property or any part thereof.”
“These deed restrictions will last forever whether or not a future downzoning is approved,” Vallone said.
Vallone’s office also reported that Edgestone President Anthony Hu created an escrow account with $272,000 to fund a homeowners association for those 52 homes. The association will manage and monitor compliance with the terms of the remedial program that was developed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
“Communities like Whitestone are part of what makes Queens a special place, so it was important for us as public officials to find a solution that stayed true to the original project and fit with the distinctive residential character of the surrounding Whitestone community,” said Katz.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D- Bayside) said of the agreement, “It’s nice, but it doesn’t force him to do anything.” Avella pointed out that the deed restriction is not enforceable by any city agency and that the community or the borough president would have to sue if Edgestone decides to build more than 52 homes.
Avella still believes that a rezoning is in order for that area, as there also issues with two lots commercial lots on 6th Road that cause problems for the community.
Avella would like to see the whole area downzoned to single family homes.
“This [deed restriction] is nice, but it’s not the perfect solution. Maybe we’ll have some basis in court,” Avella said.
He noted that another community in north Flushing faced a similar challenge with deed restrictions and had to sue to enforce it.
Regarding the money for the homeowner’s association, Avella said, “That wasn’t good faith.” He added that there is a contamination issue at the site and the developers are involved in a Brownfield Clean Up program to remediate environmental concerns at the site.
He noted that the State Department of Environmental Conservation required Edgestone to give money that would help future homeowners manage the environmental concerns. Avella also believes that the the $270,000 is enough