A Florida man who owns a weed-strewn Colonial-era cemetery in Queens wants a judge to declare the graveyard abandoned - and let a developer build houses where Dutch settlers buried their dead.
A lawyer for Ralph DeDomenico contended the bodies interred at Brinckerhoff Cemetery in Fresh Meadows disintegrated long ago - and dared the city to exhume them to prove him wrong.
DeDomenico, 59, wants to sell a developer the irregularly shaped 85-by-110-foot swath of land for the construction of two homes.
State law forbids building on a cemetery.
"Why can't you get it in your head? This ain't a cemetery anymore," argued Gerald Chiariello, DeDomenico's Forest Hills-based lawyer. "It's a dump."
Not everyone agrees.
Lawyer Paul Kerson, representing the Queens Historical Society and a local civic association, has written to Chiariello threatening "appropriate legal action" if anyone builds on the 182nd St. plots.
Kerson's letter also noted that the city put the cemetery under consideration as a potential landmark in 2000, outlawing construction through the designation process.
Lisi de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, confirmed the graveyard is still on the commission's calendar, but legal issues have hampered action.
Fighting to keep builder off Colonial graves at Brinckerhoff Cemetery