2003-02-20 / Top Stories

Community Stands United At Cease & Desist Renewal Hearing

By David Rybstein

Community Stands United At Cease & Desist Renewal Hearing

Assemblyman Frank Seddio noted that sparse turnout because of cold weather was not indicative of feelings of community.Assemblyman Frank Seddio noted that sparse turnout because of cold weather was not indicative of feelings of community.

By David Rybstein

One by one, speaker after speaker urged representatives from the New York State Department of State’s Di-vision of Licensing Services to renew the soon-to-expire "Cease & Desist Zone" covering the western portion of local Community Board 18. Residents and local politicians spoke of predatory real estate broker "solicitation to sell" techniques primarily directed at longterm and elderly residents in the Marine Park, Mill Basin, and Georgetown neighborhoods.

Although the turnout was sparse, civic heads assured Bruce Stuart, li-censing counsel, Bernard M. Friend, chief investigator, and Joseph T. Amello, director of licensing, that they spoke for area residents at the February 13 meeting held at P.S. 236 on Ave. U and East 63 St.

Al Whitney, of the Mill Basin Civic Association, stated that the elderly have a particularly hard time dealing with unscrupulous agents because they "have nowhere to go."


Bernard Friend (center), State Department chief investigator, is flanked by Joseph T. Amelo and Bruce Stuart of the licensing division.Bernard Friend (center), State Department chief investigator, is flanked by Joseph T. Amelo and Bruce Stuart of the licensing division.

"Fear and uncertainty creep into the thought process of residents who take pride in their homes and community, but are then left wondering what will happen to the neighborhood where they raised their kids," said local resident Ronald Roth.

Carmine Carro of the Marine Park Civic Association asked the three member panel why the entire Community Board 18 was not in itself a "zone."

Chief Investigator Friend responded that zones could be large or small depending upon where complaints came from in the past. In Queens, one particular zone takes up a good portion of the borough itself. Attendees learned that although Canarsie is in CB18, it is in its own "cease & desist zone".

State Senator Marty Golden said, "People don’t mind real estate agents who work in a fair and professional manner, but a small percentage of them use unethical tactics aimed at breaking up a community." A number of speakers expressed the sentiment that although they accept that change in their neighborhoods is in the air, they are adamantly against brokers who instigate rapid turnover of homes resulting in the destruction of neighborhood character.

Paula Whitney, president of Mill Basin Civic Association, cited a number of local real estate agancies as what she considered particularly bad offenders and presented the panel with a stack of printed documentation to bolster the case for renewing the cease & desist order. In response to her question, Friend noted that the current order expires May 30 and that previous signatories would indeed have to resign their names to a new nonsolicitation list. Friend agreed to supply local civics with an adequate supply of forms to be redistributed to area residents.

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