Community Board 12’s district manager lied when he told city officials that the board backed a plan to give a supermarket nearly $2-million in tax abatements to help the store expand, say some members of the board.
Board members and residents at a CB12 meeting Feb. 22 claimed that District Manager Wolf Sender once told the city Economic Development Corporation that his board backed the expansion of Moisha’s Supermarket on Avenue M near East Fourth Street — even though the proposal had never come before the group.
“He lied when he testified that all Community Board 12 supported the Moisha’s project,” said resident Natalie DeNicola. “He should be held accountable for his actions and stripped of his title as district manager.”
With $1.93 million tax abatement at stake — part of a city initiative to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods with a dearth of them — Sender testified at the Feb. 3 hearing that “for the community board, for the community … we believe this will only help this community more and it’s going to help alleviate traffic, alleviate parking so we are supporting this project the whole way.”
Later that day, Sender fired off an e-mail to community board members apologizing for speaking out of turn, admitting that he had been speaking for individual board members, not for the entire board.
“I would like to take this opportunity and apologize,” he wrote.
Sender’s testimony and subsequent apology resulted in an uproar at last week’s CB12 meeting, with board members shouting over each other, and some demanding that Sender — who did not attend the meeting — be held accountable for what he did.
“An apology is not good enough,” said member Anna Cali. “Wolf Sender went and testified on behalf of all of us and said that we supported it. Supported what? That’s what we’re asking.”
At one point in the meeting, a transcript of Sender’s testimony was read aloud, prompting board member Jacob Haas to defend Sender.
“How could people in good conscience go and tread on a good soul like Wolf Sender?” Haas asked. “How is it possible? The orphans, the cries from the widows will be heard.”
The city charter broadly defines the district manager’s role, but makes no mention of his or her duties as a representative of the board. The city Law Department declined to comment on the situation.
Sender did not return calls requesting comment.