Oct 21 2010
City officials have put the brakes on a controversial project to build a mosque in Sheepshead Bay – ordering a review the developer charged was sparked by opponents.
NY DAILY NEWS Department of Buildings officials demanded the audit on Friday, two days after giving the Voorhies Ave. project a thumbs up. “We feel sad and disappointed that they’ve succumbed to pressure from the opposition,” said Allowey Ahmed, owner of the lot where he wants to build a three-story mosque and community center.
Ahmed insisted inspectors won’t find anything wrong with the plans. “We’re doing it according to code.”
A DOB spokeswoman said officials met with mosque officials yesterday and questioned them about its occupancy to see if other permits are required. Officials also found sloppy paperwork, she said. “The DOB is asking the applicant to clarify some issues on the plans, which can be easily rectified,” said spokeswoman Carly Sullivan. “Once the issues are addressed, permits can be issued.”
Zoning law experts said DOB officials launch audits when they get a detailed complaint about plans or because they feel pressure about a controversial project.
“If they get political heat, then they do it [the audit] to protect themselves,” said lawyer Ken Fisher, who added most audits take weeks to finish, not months. “If it’s political, they kick it upstairs [to higher-ranking officials] to decide.”
Critics from the group Bay People have fought the mosque project, charging it would cause traffic congestion and noise on the residential block. Bay People spokesman Alex Tenenbaum declined to comment about the audit, but said the group is looking for ways to challenge the developer in court.
Ahmed broke off talks with prospective construction firms last week, because the additional review might force changes to the plans. “We were trying to hear from contractors, but that’s on hold because we don’t know what the final project will be,” said Ahmed.