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Queens Chronicle

Council approves CB 13 rezoning

Board begins summer break withnew neighborhood protections

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 12:56 pm, Wed Jul 3, 2013.

The City Council gave Community Board 13 a going-away present before its two-month summer hiatus, voting to approve a rezoning in an area that includes Bellerose, Floral Park, New Hyde Park and Glen Oaks.

The rezoning will “downzone” residential streets and neighborhoods to protect them from high-density or incompatible development.

“The rezoning safeguards the homes in these communities and ensures that the neighborhoods are not threatened by overdevelopment,” said Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), in a statement issued by his office on Monday afternoon.

Weprin was praised Monday night by Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and CB 13 Land Use Committee Chairman Richard Hellenbrecht for shepherding the legislation through the Council .

The neighborhoods had not undergone a major re-evaluation since the 1960s. Over the last 10 to 15 years, residents, civic groups and elected officials had been attempting to tighten development regulations, particularly in areas that traditionally have consisted of one- and two-family homes.

The new rules largely protect older residential neighborhoods from commercial construction and so-called “McMansions” that are considered out of character with their communities.

The new regulations set overlay areas from commercial streets abutting residential areas at 100 feet, cutting the distance from 150.

They do not offer as much protection as some officials would like from locating churches, day care centers and other public accommodations in residential areas.

Board officials early in the meeting said only that action by the Council was expected by early July. Comrie, upon his arrival at the Bellerose Assembly of God Church, announced the good news. All were confident that Mayor Bloomberg will sign on.

Board members and city zoning officials already have begun reviewing zoning in Queens Village and surrounding neighborhoods, the last area under CB 13’s purview that has not been rezoned since the 1960s.

In other business, the board held elections for its officers, with one new officer who will be up on the dais when CB 13 next meets in September.

Jerry Wind, president of the Bellerose Hillside Civic Association, was voted in as executive secretary, replacing Sanu Thomas, who chose not to seek re-election because of family considerations.

The remainder of the incumbent officers — Chairman Bryan Block, First Vice Chairwoman Tanya Cruz, Second Vice Chair Angela Augugliaro and Treasurer Anup Ramnauth — all were re-elected with no or minimal dissent.

Shortly afterward, however, Block and Cruz exchanged pointed words over Cruz’s motion to approve a traffic light that the city Department of Transportation has agreed to install where Francis Lewis Boulevard meets 121st Street in the Laurelton-Cambria Heights area.

In a separate motion, Block sought and got permission to approve the light on the board’s behalf after a meeting with DOT officials scheduled for tonight, June 27.

Block said he saw no indication that area residents were represented at the Transportation Committee meeting that resulted in Cruz’s original motion.

Both Block and Cruz called the other out of order during a brief exchange, after which Cruz walked out of the meeting for more than 10 minutes.

She said groups such as Federated Blocks of Laurelton were the actual genesis of the effort that resulted in the DOT’s proposal.

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