Developer and DOE battle over Brooklyn site

February 16, 2011 02:40PM

City officials proposing to Build A School On Caton Avenue Near East 7th Street in Kensington were taken by surprise at a public hearing yesterday when the owner of half the site said that he wants to finish his own stalled residential project on the same land, the Brooklyn Paper reported. “This is the first we have been aware of it,” Tami Rachelson of the School Construction Authority told Community Board 7. If developer Robert Cherry gets the approval to restart his controversial project, the city would have to pay more to acquire the property. No residents spoke in support of Cherry’s 17-unit apartment building, and the board’s land use committee voted unanimously to advise the city to reject the zoning variance. Others were suspicious of Cherry’s motives, speculating that he just wants the zoning change to increase the value of his land. A spokesperson for the Department of Education said that Cherry took the agency by surprise. “We researched the ownership of the property and notified the owner of our interest in the property,” said spokeperson Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld. “The property owner indicated that the property was available for sale, but did not tell us — and was not under any obligation to tell us — that he was pursuing” a zoning variance for his own use. [Brooklyn Paper]