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Articles of Interest by Jay B. Itkowitz During his Journalism Career

Decision awaited: Ruling in housing development case may set pattern for city to follow

Long Island Press

Decision was reserved yesterday in a case that could set a pattern for how the city deals with declining developments in Queens.

Newly appointed Civil Court Judge Fred Santucci heard arguments in the Queens Housing Court over whether he should issue an order requiring managers of the Carlton Gardens development in Flushing to make repairs by a specific date.

Lawyers of the city's Housing Development Administration are also seeking a court order to require the Carlton development to maintain the property once it is fixed up.

Richard Huffman, an attorney with the HAD Housing Litigation Bureau, told Santucci that during the past six months the Carlton management has failed to make good on promises to repair 504-family garden apartment complex.

According to Huffman, the management has had over six months to repair an estimated 800 violations of the city's housing code. During that period, he said, conditions have gotten worse, not better, at the 24 buildings, which are in the vicinity of 73rd Avenue and Kissena Boulevard.

Carlton attorney Hyman B. Schutzer, however, told the court an order wasn't necessary since management has been spending "thousands of dollars" to make ongoing repairs.

Huffman sought to force Carlton to repair an estimated 50 "hazardous" and "immediately hazardous" violations within 15 days, a request that prompted Schutzer to exclaim during concluding arguments: "You might as well ask my client to jump off the Empire State Building."

"The important thing," said Santucci, "is to get the work done and violations removed."

Santucci said he would reverse decision pending a visit to Carlton to get a first-hand look at the condition. According to Huffman, Santucci should decide on a date today to visit Carlton "hopefully within a week."

If Santucci does issue an order and Carlton then fails to make the repairs, the firm should be subject to fines for contempt of court.

The current court case is one of three court cases involving Carlton Gardens.

According to Beverley Solochek, a spokesman for the Department of Rent and Housing Maintenance, representatives are due in Kew Gardens Criminal Court Jan. 31 for judgment on 318 housing code violations which the firm pleaded guilty to in the fall. Schutzer, however, said he pleaded guilty to only 38 violations.

Moreover, Alexander and Stuart Herman, brothers, as well as Andrew Guthartz, the managing agent of Carlton, are scheduled to be represented at the Department of State hearing into allegedly improper renting practices at Carlton.

Guthartz and Lawrence Sklar, president of Rabern Properties Inc., 143-08 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing, have been accused of wrongly charging brokerage fees to tenants during 1972 to 1973.

According to the department complaint, Guthartz sent prospective tenants to Rabern, which in turn, improperly charged fees of one to one and half month's rent because there was no "service." The pair is also accused of engaging in a scheme to use "fabricated leases" to get the Human Resources Administration to approve rents and fees in excess of its guidelines.

The Herman brothers are also cited in the complaint.