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Queens Chronicle

CBs 8 and 13 outline priorities for the fall

Development plans, faded traffic signs, bus shelters, interchange project top list

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Posted: Thursday, September 1, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 5:27 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Many community boards across the city have been in recess for the summer, but soon they will get back to work with meetings beginning this month. CBs 8 and 13 will be tackling a whole host of issues and welcome the public to attend their general meetings to find out what’s going on in their communities.

CB 13 will hold a public hearing next month regarding proposed construction at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital campus, giving community members an opportunity to hear details about the plan from the developer and to voice their thoughts and concerns.

The Indian Cultural and Community Center purchased two parcels of land at the site, approximately 4.5 acres, in 2008, which the group said it would use to build a community center, athletic field and parking lot. But now the ICCC is seeking to purchase another six acres in order to build two nine-story apartment towers, which they told the community would be affordable residences for seniors.

Many community members have said they felt the group had been dishonest about their true intentions and believe that the height of the towers would be out-of-character with the neighborhood and other buildings on the campus.

The hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 20 at the Bellerose Assembly of God church, located at 240-15 Hillside Ave. CB 13 will vote on the request at its next general meeting on Sept. 26 at the same time and location. The ICCC needs variances to allow for a mixed use residential-commercial building and because the structures would not have access to any mapped street, according to Richard Hellenbrecht, the chairman of CB 13’s Land Use Committee.

Hellenbrecht said the board will also be monitoring the progress of the city’s rezoning of a large area in the district, which will include the neighborhoods of Bellerose, New Hyde Park, Floral Park and parts of Glen Oaks.

The plan would amend all or portions of 193 blocks and would aim to preserve the low-density character of the community; ensure future residential development that more closely reflects the existing one- and two-family detached and semi-detached housing areas; and modify overlays to prevent commercial uses from encroaching onto predominantly residential streets.

Hellenbrecht said the Land Use Committee will be advocating for the creation of two new zones, one which it has named R2-N, which would restrict construction on narrow lots to one-family homes, where they are now two-family; and another which it calls R2-R, which would limit row houses to one-family or slightly larger instead of two-family or above.

Tanya Cruz, CB 13’s first vice chairwoman and head of the Transportation Committee, said that two main priorities are bus shelter additions and sign replacements.

The city has been replacing old bus shelters with new versions throughout the district and city and Cruz and her committee will be monitoring the progress as well as examining the Department of Transportation’s midway report regarding the installations.

Cruz said there is also concern about faded and missing street signs, which she says have led to not only confusion, but dangerous conditions within the district.

“People are struggling to see where they’re at,” Cruz said, “especially, when it’s dark.”

The committee will be speaking to community members to keep tabs on locations where signs need to be replaced and installed and then will relay that information to the city.

Cruz also said they will be following the possibility of video lottery terminals at Belmont race track. “If, they are going to discuss that scenario, then we are going to have to discuss that,” Cruz said.

Martha Taylor, the second vice chairwoman of CB 8, said the board will be focusing on a proposal by Mary Lewis Academy in Jamaica Estates to add a two-story, 26,000-square-foot athletic field. The school needs variances because the project would exceed the sky exposure plane — the imaginary pyramidal shape within which a building may be constructed. It also doesn’t meet the front and rear yard requirements. CB 8 will vote on whether to approve the application sometime in late September or early October, Taylor said.

The board is also monitoring the progress of the Kew Gardens Interchange project, a massive reconstruction and renovation plan affecting a complex web of thoroughfares — the Van Wyck Expressway, Grand Central Parkway, Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike — which are used by half a million vehicles each day. They will be meeting with DOT officials every few months to get updates on the plan.

“It looks to be on track,” Taylor said, but we are going to keep following it.”

Asked whether there are any other issues CB 8 will examine after the summer recess, Taylor said. “Generally, with community boards, issues come up on a day-to-day basis and we address them as they arise.”

CB 8’s next general meeting will be held on Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillcrest Jewish Center at 183-02 Union Turnpike in Flushing.

Welcome to the discussion.