City Council set to overturn Queens church’s landmark status

January 17, 2011 09:07AM

An expected City Council vote against landmarking a Queens church that doesn’t want the historic designation could set a dangerous precedent, preservationists told the Daily News. In October, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate Jamaica’s Grace Episcopal Church Memorial Hall as a historic site, prompting a battle with the church’s leadership, which is concerned that it will not be able to meet the financial demands of maintaining a landmark property. City Council member Jim Gennaro of Fresh Meadows has since set to overturn the designation, arguing that in the future the commission should be required to engage with property owners and seek their consent before bestowing landmark status on their buildings. The vote is scheduled for Tuesday, and Gennaro is expected to win. But according to Jim Driscoll of the Queens Historical Society, such a move would have a “chilling effect,” preventing the city from protecting sites owned by absentee landlords. “In the future, unless the Landmarks Commission gets a strong, positive ‘yes’ in writing, they might not move forward,” Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, warned. [NYDN]