In an uncommon move, Community Board 5 voted against its own Land Use Committee’s recommendation regarding the rezoning of a small, vacant plot of land at 1504-1506 Decatur St. in Ridgewood designated for manufacturing.
CB 5 voted 21-13 against the rezoning plan last Wednesday, despite the Land Use Committee voting 4-2 earlier in the week in favor of the redesignation from manufacturing to residential.
At last month’s board meeting, Moshe Friedman, an engineer representing the owners of the plot, 11-01 Irving Ave. LLC, briefed the board on a plan to build a six-family apartment structure on the overgrown lot.
A handful of residents and board members then spoke of their opposition to the plan, citing worries over gentrification and the loss of manufacturing space.
With input from both sides, the full board denied the plan for similar reasons.
Jean Tanler, a CB 5 member and the coordinator of the Maspeth Industrial Business Association, said those who believe the lot will continue to sit vacant are misguided.
“Those who support the variance say ‘The lot has been vacant for 20 years. If they haven’t built industrial yet, it’s not going happen,’” Tanler said. “We have just emerged from a cycle of a significant loss of manufacturing in the city and across the country. But we are now on the upswing.”
Tanler also said the increase in industry coming to the borough is reason alone not to rezone the plot from manufacturing to residential.
“Queens has seen an influx of industrial business lately,” she said. “From 2002 to 2012, Queens has gained 762 manufacturing companies, the highest in the city.”
Walter Sanchez, the Land Use chairman, explained his committee’s vote was based on the immediate neighborhood surrounding the lot and whether or not manufacturing could realistically thrive there.
“This particular property has residential houses on all three sides. The fourth side is a manufacturing building across the street,” Sanchez said. “We felt, in the end, that this lot was too small to adequately build what is demanded for manufacturing today.”
Tanler and Ted Renz, the director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corp. and arguably the board’s biggest manufacturing supporter, both vehemently disagreed with Sanchez’s view.
“Until I see the financials, including the incentives available to build industrial on the lot, I’m not convinced that it’s too small to develop as industrial,” Tanler said. “There’s a high, un-met demand for small industrial properties.”
“I want to remind you that this board, last July, unanimously voted for the inclusion of SOMA [South of Myrtle Avenue], which included these lots, residential or not, to be in the industrial business zone,” Renz said in his minority report. “We should be prepared to do something better with that site. And if we have to wait a little while for that, that’s not a bad thing.”
In addition to Tanler and Renz, notable board members who voted against rezoning include CB 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri and Transportation Chairman John Maier.