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Developer of Italian Home has his say; City Island hires lawyer

Bronx Times

The man leading a push to develop a controversial assisted living facility on City Island is firing back at its critics.

Dr. Domenico Mignone, president of the Italian Hospital Society calls the proposed 214-unit Italian Home for the Aged his ‘dream.” His likeness was recently depicted on an Obama-like poster at the site, with the words “Dr. Mignone, City Island Says Nope” to the project.

The city Department of Buildings rejected the plans for the building at 222 City Island Avenue on Aug. 22, finding they did not comply with local M1-1 zoning. Mignone is now seeking a variance from the city Board of Standards and Appeals.

The City Island Civic Association has hired a lawyer to argue its case against the project, said CICA vice-president Barbara Dolensek.

Mignone did not return phone calls for comment, but instead e-mailed this newspaper, stating, “I think that opponents of the project should argue against the project in a truthful way and not misrepresent the project to their neighbors. For example, the proposed height is fully in compliance with the height regulations presently in existence for that location.”

Mignone added he feels personally slighted by some opponents who have referred to the project as “a [ethnic slur edited] warehousing of seniors” and to him as a “[ethnic slur edited] mafioso doctor.” said Mignone.

“It is disgraceful that in NYC, in the year 2012, people can express such hatred for Italian Americans or any New Yorker,” he wrote.

The charges of any anti-Italian ethnic sentiment are completely false, Dolensek responded.

The density of the building is the reason for the opposition, she said, noting that its plans call for most rooms to be only 400- or 450-square-feet, with not enough amenities for 214 units.

Two hundred of those would be for assisted living, and 14 would be senior housing, according to plans filed with the BSA.

Dolensek said, “The fact that he wants to pack so much in there without hardly any amenities - what is that, greed? This doesn’t look like the way to treat Italian-Americans if you really care about them.”

Mignone noted that rooms will be open to all.

Mignone said Community Board 10 has not taken a formal vote on the issue. But chairman John Marano said, “It is too big a development and goes over the height limit,” adding that Mignone never answered a question as to where the funding is coming from.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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