Designation of individual sites opposed by owners

Day of hearings on Staten Island properties proved controversial. On April 10, 2007, Landmarks held hearings on the possible designations of eight properties on Staten Island. While some property owners were positive about possible designation, others adamantly opposed. Owners feared that designation would mean reduced property values and restrictive government control of the use and possible modification of their homes.

Among the properties was 5466 Arthur Kill Road in Tottenville, built for an oysterman in the mid- 19th century. The house features an amalgamation of Greek revival, Gothic and Italianate styles with a symmetrically planned center hall and gables. It remains remarkably intact with its original chimney, lintels, sills and shutters. Douglas Ford, the building’s owner, spoke in opposition. “I don’t want big government telling me my rights as a homeowner,” said Ford, a Staten Island native. Ford claimed “preservationist perverts” had been trespassing on his property since Landmarks publicized the potential designation, and that Landmarks should study the security impact of its designations. Ford added that he was willing to negotiate a deal for the house’s preservation as long he avoided the onus of landmarking.

The owner of 3833 Amboy Road, an 1843 clapboard farmhouse, similarly objected, stating that he would never have purchased the building had he known it would be landmarked. He also felt that he was being punished for maintaining his house.

Ed Drury, owner of the Standard Varnish Works office building in Port Richmond, also opposed designation. An 1893 round-arch style industrial building currently functioning as a warehouse and featuring decorative brickwork and a prominent tower, Drury claimed that the structure possessed no unique features, and that “no one in the community knows or cares that it exists.” A current tenant of the building, the owner of a carpet business, also testified in opposition, questioning the designation’s potential impact on existing businesses. Roger Lang of the Landmarks Conservancy spoke in support, saying that “New York’s industrial and mercantile history is being irrevocably erased.”

In contrast, Russell Powell, the owner of 90 Bayview Avenue, a Second Empire style home in Pleasant Plains, embraced designation. Powell stated that he was not surprised by the calendaring because he was aware he “painted a bull’s-eye on it when I fixed it up.” Powell, who had purchased the house when it was marketed as a teardown, asked to be allowed to subdivide his lot if Landmarks designated the house.

LPC: 5466 Arthur Kill Road House (LP- 2251); 3833 Amboy Road House (LP- 2228); Standard Varnish Works, 2589 Richmond Terrace (LP-2250); 90 Bayview Avenue House (LP-2249) (April 10, 2007).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.