Douglaston Hill House Returned to District

From the Queens Times-Ledger

240th St. home historic: City
by Joseph Gargiulo and Elizabeth Stein

The City Council’s Subcommittee for Landmarks, Public Citing and Maritime Usage decided Monday that a home belonged in the Douglaston Hill Historic District after the owners attempted to have their house exempted from the designation.
The 5-2 decision came after a re-evaluation of whether Kevin and Diana Mosley’s home at 41-45 240th St. should be included in the district.

“I think it’ll be favorable to those who want the home to remain in the district,” said Stuart Hersh, a trustee of the Douglaston/Little Neck Historical Society, who attended the hearing with concerned area residents.

The Council’s Land Use Committee voted to put the Mosley house back into the historic district Tuesday and the full Council was expected to approve the action Wednesday.

The Mosleys bought their home in October 2004, before it was included in the historic district by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The district preserves homes, primarily in Queen Anne and Colonial styles, developed between 1890 and 1930.

The Mosleys, both attorneys, argued that the district should be abolished because the LPC ignored maps showing their home was built between 1919 and 1924, not the mid-1800s, as the commission originally said.

Manhattan State Supreme Court Judge Paul George Feinman rejected the argument, but threw out the designation for the Mosley’s house and ordered the LPC to re-evaluate the home.

“I’m supportive of including the home in the historic district,” said Jessica Lappin (D-Manhattan), the subcommittee chairwoman, in a phone interview last week. She said the home contributes to Douglaston Hill’s “distinct sense of place.”

Diana Mosley did not share those sentiments, however.

“We think it was wrong,” she said. Mosley said from the beginning the dispute was about homeowners’ rights being suppressed at the cost of preservation.

“The local preservation society is no longer advocating for homeowners,” she said.

Elliot Socci, president of the Douglaston Civic Association, said “in this particular case, I think it’s a dangerous precedent for an individual to get out of a historical district because it really just blows apart the preservation concept of the landmark commission.”

The only Council members who spoke on the issue at the hearing were Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), the two dissenters.

Comrie said the Mosleys’ rights as property owners should be affirmed.

“I think they’re running into a land rights issue,” Comrie said. “I think there should be some flexibility.”

“I’ve always been in support of historic preservation,” said Barron. But even so, he said, “this family has been done wrong.”

“Let them at least have the yard,” he said, while the district can have jurisdiction over the house.

Diane Mosley applauded Comrie and Barron for going out of their way and educating themselves on the issue.

The commission reaffirmed the designation, according to William Seivers, vice president of the historic society.

“After that, it has to pass through the process that any historic designation has to follow,” Seivers said. He said the City Planning Commission passed the designation and the subcommittee took up the issue on July 2.

“Ultimately, we just want to live in peace with our neighbors,” Mosley said.

©Times Ledger 2007

Posted Under: City Council, Designation, Douglaston, Queens

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