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The lights may be burning bright inside the Cherry Hill Gourmet market on Emmons Avenue this week but the doors still remain tightly shut on the landmark Lundy’s building.
The New York City Department of Buildings slapped a stop-work order on Cherry Hill just as it was about to open last week after the city determined that its business model ran contrary to original plans.
Opponents of the establishment maintain that Cherry Hill Gourmet’s heavy reliance on retail food sales violates the Sheepshead Bay special district which is supposed to restrict local business to waterfront-related uses.
Cherry Hill, however, scoffs at those claims.
“Your special distict was broken when you let Loehmann’s in and half the fishing fleet left,” project manager Anthony Kelley told this newspaper.
State Senator Carl Kruger, City Councilmember Mike Nelson and Community Board 15 Chair Theresa Scavo all confronted Cherry Hill managers outside Lundy’s on Good Friday.
Kruger’s office expressed reluctance to talk about the matter any futher.
Scavo insists that if Cherry Hill wanted to open a business inside Lundy’s that was more market than restaurant, they should have applied for a change of use varriance from the DOB.
“When Loehmann’s wanted to go in, what did they do - didn’t they go through the proper proceedure?” she said.
The Community Board 15 chair says that she met with Cherry Hill managers last year and told them at that time that they would have to file for a change of use variance if they wanted to open up the kind of establishment they are now seeking to open.
“Why would I need a variance if I’m a restaurant with accessory use?” Kelley said this week. “If I thought that I needed a variance, we would have done that.”
Cherry Hill’s supporters view the opposition to the establishment as nothing more than selective enforcement.
“There is no gray area,” Scavo insisted. “They seem to think because the community wants it, everyone else should shut up.”
Kelley says that they have received “piles of letters” in support of Cherry Hill’s opening.
“Somebody’s got a bug up their --s over this,” he said. “When they try to close us down they’re costing 125 people their jobs.”
Despite the opposition, Cherry Hill plans on pushing forward and was scheduled to have a meeting with the DOB this week.
Said Nelson, “I hope they get everything done in order to open up.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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