The variance for the proposed Walgreens on Eliot Avenue and
80th Street is still alive though barely. The Juniper Park Civic Association, Community Board 5 and Borough President Helen Marshall all have voted against the plan. In October
the applicant, John Genovese and his lawyer went before the NYC Board of Standards & Appeals to argue their case.
Representatives of the Juniper Park Civic including JPCA president Bob Holden, Ed Kampermann and Manny Caruana
testified as did Anthony Milone, President & Chief Operating Officer of Cross County Bank, and Mike Somma,
owner of Artis Drugs. Walter Sanchez, chairman of Community Board 5’s Land Use Committee also testified.
The Board of Standards and Appeals asked several questions and did not seem convinced that the application for
a larger store with smaller parking lot with no loading dock, as required by zoning regulations, was warranted. BSA chair Meenakshi Srinivasan agreed with the testimony of Bob Holden that a variance should not be granted based on a particular businesses (Walgreen’s) requirements. She said that the applicant must prove that the space is a hardship for the owner and business in general would have a difficult time generating a reasonable profit due to the configuration of the parcel.
Chairwoman Srinivasan gave the applicant until November 7th to prove their case. The applicants lawyer, Eric Palatnik has filed a motion for an 8 week extension of the BSA’s request. Palatnik and Bob Holden have been at odds concerning Holden’s refusal to turn over the minutes of the JPCA town meeting in June when the civic voted overwhelmingly against the Walgreens plan. The lawyer filed a request asking that the JPCA’s vote and comments not be taken into consideration due to Holden’s refusal to turn over the minutes.
The BSA scoffed at that request. Holden said that Palatnik’s request was ridiculous and just showed his lack of preparation. “He can’t even get the name of our Councilman straight,” said Holden. He said that Palatnik keeps sending Councilman Gennaro (Jamaica Estates & Fresh Meadows) papers on the variance instead of to Councilman Gallagher.
Meanwhile Holden said that if the current condition of the property is any indication how the owner, John Genovese, will maintain the property then he certainly is not deserving of any consideration by the community or the city for a variance.