PUBLIC HEARING: ULURP Application #: C 120076 PCQ
Queens Animal Receiving Center
185-17 Hillside Avenue, Block, 9954, Lot 56
DATE: Monday, November 28, 2011, 7:45 p.m.
PLACE: Hillside Manor Comprehensive Care Center
188-11 Hillside Avenue
Hollis, NY 11423
ATTENDANCE: Steve Konigsberg, Zoning Chairperson
Marc A. Haken
Marie Adam-Ovide, District Manager
Ian Hegarty, Dept. of City Planning
Mario Marlino, Assistant Commissioner, NYC Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene – Veterinary & Pest Control Services
Corinne Schiff, NYC Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene – Div. of Environmental Health
Emiko Otsubo, NYC Dept. of Health & Mental Hygiene
Purpose of Meeting
In the matter of an application submitted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, pursuant to Section 197-c of the New York City Charter for the site selection and acquisition of property located at 185-17 Hillside Avenue for use as an animal receiving center.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is seeking to acquire the Estates Animal Hospital in Jamaica, Queens and convert it into an animal receiving facility that provides short term shelter and care to homeless, stray, abandoned and lost animals.
Zoning Chairperson, Steven Konigsberg called this hearing to order at 7:45 p.m. He welcomed everyone to the Public Hearing. He explained the process and the purpose of this meeting. There were seven (7) Board Members present; therefore, we did have a quorum. We will bring our vote to the entire Board on Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at the next monthly Board Meeting, 7:30 p.m. at the Hillcrest Jewish Center, located at 183-02 Union Turnpike.
Mr. Konigsberg introduced Mario Marlino from the Health Department. He is the Assistant Commissioner for Veterinary & Pest Control Services. He is joined by Corinne Schiff and Emiko Otsubo from the Health Department.
- Mr. Marlino’s purpose here today is for the City to buy what is now a veterinary hospital on Hillside Avenue. We would turn this present hospital into an Animal Receiving Center.
- In the City of New York, the City contracts with an organization called “Animal Care and Control”. Animal Care and Control (AC&C) is responsible for helping homeless and unwanted animals in NYC. There are shelters in Staten Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan that board animals overnight.
- In the Bronx and Queens we presently have animal receiving centers where people can bring their animals and drop off their animals to AC&C.
- We have a small animal receiving center in Rego Park, Queens. It is about 800 sq. ft. The proposed facility on Hillside Avenue will be a big improvement for residents in Queens.
- The operational facility will be 12 hour days, 7 days a week.
- It would not change the current use of the location substantially. The City would renovate the building without changing the building footprint. It would make substantial improvement to both the inside and outside of the building.
- People would simply bring their animals there and drop them off. The animals will not get boarded overnight. When the day is over, the animals are brought by a van to one of the shelters in either Manhattan or Brooklyn. Once the animals are there, they get adopted out, or go to rescue groups or possibly a small portion will be euthanized.
- The major point is that this will be an improvement for our residents in Queens and a better facility than what we have now in Rego Park.
- When an animal is brought and dropped off, it gets checked by a medical staff, there will be some routine medical and some emergency medical care. If the animal needs more extensive work, it will be brought to Manhattan. Again, no animals will be boarded overnight at the proposed location.
Board Members Comments and Questions:
- How many animals per day on the average do you think you will take in? Answer: The Rego Park facility takes in 20 animals a day. That facility is only open 1 day a week for the 8 hours. This new facility can take maybe 75 animals per day. We get strays and owner drop offs. We also do a fair amount of returned animals back to the owners.
- Do you get any exotic pets? Answer: They do get a small number of alligators and a fair amount of bunnies.
- Does this facility have parking? Answer: Yes, a parking lot on site.
- Will you be performing spaying and neutering services at this facility for owned animals? Answer: No. However, the City will be providing funding for other vendors in Queens that will perform spaying and neutering services.
- Are you aware of any objections from the community? Answer: No.
Marc A. Haken:
- What does this group do that the ASPCA doesn’t do? Answer: This group runs the shelters. The ASPCA does mostly humane enforcement. They do advocacy and they also have a shelter in Manhattan.
- Who do I call if I have a stray dog or cat in my neighborhood? Answer: 311.
- Who does 311 dispatch to get these dogs or cats? Answer: AC&C.
- Why doesn’t Queens have a full time facility like the other boroughs? Answer: City Council made that decision. Queens will have more “field services”.
- Do we know what the 12 hour days will be? Answer: It has not been worked out as of yet.
- Will there be a veterinarian on staff? Answer: Yes.
- Can I bring my pet to this facility to get inoculated? Answer: No.
- Will the dog run be utilized by this group? Answer: He does not think so.
- Will this facility replace the Rego Park facility or compliment it? Answer: Replace it.
- If there comes a time when the City no longer wishes that facility to be there, what may the City do with that building? Answer: Ian Hegarty from City Planning responded that the City would have to change the C of O.
- What would be the earliest possible time and the latest possible time for the hours of operation? Answer: Earliest would probably be 7:00 a.m.
- Should there be a weather emergency, do you have the capacity to house the animals overnight? Answer: It wouldn’t be a plan to use this facility as an emergency shelter.
- What does an “override” do that a “variance” doesn’t do? Answer: Ian Hegarty responded that the “override” is not before the Board tonight. That is a mayoral issue. Tonight’s request is for acquisition of property by the City.
- Can you talk about the capacity between the Rego Park site versus the proposed site? Answer: The current site is about 800 sq. ft. – 17 spaces for animals. The proposed site would be quite a bit bigger than Rego Park.
- How would you ship the animals to other sites? Answer: AC&C Field Staff and Transport Staff would have dedicated vans to transport the animals. Maybe three transport vans would be used.
Nily Rozic read aloud a letter from Councilman James F. Gennaro
Councilman Gennaro strongly supports this application. This facility is uniquely qualified to handle this type of use. This receiving center brings the borough of Queens in compliance with animal protection laws and is a big improvement over the existing receiving center that was only open 1 day per week and was much smaller and less equipped to service the animals. This project is good for the neighborhood, good for the animals and good for the city.
Are the 12 hour days arbitrary? Why can’t it be 8 hour days? Answer: It is what the law says. The shelter law mandates 12 hour days.
Marc A. Haken made a suggestion, that this site be named after Board Member Patricia Dolan, who was recently killed on Hillside Avenue. Answer: He can’t answer that yes or no, but he will certainly bring that back and find out. Ian Hegarty suggested that they check with Patricia’s family.
- How many animals are turned away at the Rego Park facility, which is only opened 1 day a week? Answer: I am not aware that they turn animals away.
- So then is there a need to have a facility of this size, where you are going to increase capacity by fivefold per day and 7 x per week? Answer: Evidence of the need is from the entry statistics from the shelter system as a whole. The Manhattan shelter gets a fair amount of Queens’s residents. Queens is the second highest amount of people bringing animals into the system. Bronx is the highest. The facility in the Bronx is open 2 days a week, changing to a 7 day operation. The law mandates a 7 day a week operation. We believe the proposed site will be a benefit to Queens’s residents.
- What will the building modifications be? Answer: The building footprint will not change. Renovations will be made to bring it up to code and to make repairs. No plans to drastically change the layout of the building. The building is old and needs repairs such as sprinklers, electrical updates, etc.
- What potentially can be built on this location? Ian Hegarty answered: The most development that can happen on that site would be a mixed use facility, ground floor commercial use and residential above with the maximum above height of 70 ft., with a base height of 40-60 ft.
- So in terms of what was originally envisioned for this area is a multi-use public building or privately owned building, but for housing and multi-businesses. What the City is asking for is to take over this property and keep it as a 1-story animal shelter to house animals, which we don’t know we have the need for up to 100 animals, 7 days a week, 12 hours a day facility. Am I correct? Answer: Yes.
- Is the price at all irrelevant? What is the gross price? Answer: I don’t know.
Ian Hegarty explained that whatever the price is, it is something that is negotiated with the owner of the land. This is a privately negotiated sale.
- Where will the transport vehicles be kept? Answer: I assume they will keep the vans on site.
Courtney Chandel, a long time TNR person (Trap, Neuter and Return) for 15 years around the City of New York. She also has responded to disasters around the world for animal rescues. It is her opinion that she would like to have these receiving centers as “full service centers around the clock” in Queens and in the Bronx. Full service centers provide vet care for injured animals; they have adoption programs, and keep animals for extended periods of time. She believes the receiving centers will benefit the people in Queens but will not benefit the animals.
Dave Kulick is also a TNR person. He wants to know if the animals that will be brought in to the receiving center will be checked for microchips, if they will be photographed and if an ear clipped cat will be returned to where they came from. He essentially is in favor of the facility, which could centralize what happens; however, he does not want to see the cats killed.
Garo Alexanian, a volunteer administrator of the Vet Mobile Program. This charitable organization has collaborated with NYC Animal Control for the past 15 years. They service low income pet owners. They bring these free and low cost services to communities that cannot afford the current market expense rates of the veterinary industry. Their services keep the community safer by having the animals vaccinated and medically cared for. The vet mobile parks near ACC facilities. We are the busiest veterinary service in the entire New York State, treating 6,000 patients a year. An ACC facility will enable our charitable organization to bring our free and low cost services to Queens’s residents. Queens is starving for affordable services. It is his opinion that a functional drop off facility in Queens is the appropriate first step in reaching a goal of having a full service facility. He is in favor and hopes everyone will support this.
Additional questions by the Board Members:
Kevin Forrestal asked if they will be testing animals that have chips. Answer: One of ACC’s mandates will be to try to identify the owner of the animal. So they will look for any kinds of pads or microchips. It is a standard operating procedure.
Will you take pictures and publicize? Answer: ACC does post pictures on-line on all the dogs and cats that they have in the shelter. There is also a new Lost and Found Program on-line where you can submit a lost and found report and we have volunteers who try to match a physical description to the dogs and cats in the shelter. We also have a way to report a lost animal if you find a dog with a dog license.
Will you return an ear clipped cat to its formerly natural habitat? Answer: Yes. If a TNR (Trap, Neuter and Return) group can be identified.
Susan Cleary asked if ACC’s van people have a way of recording in a log where and when they have picked up an animal. Answer: Yes.
Marc A. Haken made a motion to approve ULURP Application #: C 120076 PCQ, Queens Animal Receiving Center, located at 185-17 Hillside Avenue, seconded by Kevin Forrestal.
Vote: 5 in favor 2 opposed 0 abstained
Board Members who were in favor: Allen Eisenstein, Kevin Forrestal, Marc A. Haken, Nily Rozic and Michael F. Sidell
Board Members opposed: Susan Cleary and Steven Konigsberg
This public hearing adjourned at 8:35 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Barbara McKeon, CB8 Staff Member
November 30, 2011