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Queens Chronicle

Popular zone change gets closer in CB 13

Civics like residential safeguards, wary of rules for ‘public accommodations’

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Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:15 am, Thu Mar 21, 2013.

Community Board 13 and residents of Bellerose, Glen Oaks and Floral Park have spent more than a decade trying to rezone some residential areas to protect them from overdevelopment.

Now that goal is in sight, with the city presenting a plan on Tuesday night that has overwhelming support from residents and area civic groups.

“This has been a headache for about 12 years,” Richard Hellenbrecht, chairman of CB 13’s Land Use Committee, said Tuesday night following the city’s presentation at Bellerose Assembly of God Church.

“It was once on the front burner, then got pushed to the back burner after 9/11,” he said. “But it’s on the front burner again.”

John Young, director of the Department of City Planning’s Queens office, said that while some sections of Community District 13 have undergone minor rezoning in 1989, 1993 and 2004, much of it has not been rezoned singe 1961.

“The idea is to protect residential neighborhoods from overdevelopment, or from buildings that are out of character with the rest of the residential buildings,” Young added.

Hellenbrecht said in a perfect world the remaining hearings are on a course to bring the measure up to a vote by the City Council by the end of June.

The area involved is adjacent to Nassau County, and covers 411 blocks. A summary issued by the city Tuesday night said its general borders are the Grand Central Parkway to the north, the Nassau County line to the east, Jericho Turnpike and 93rd Avenue to the south, and to the west the “irregular line north along Springfield Boulevard, 221st, 231st and 229th streets.”

Hellenbrecht said the new zones, if approved, would prevent structures like the hotels that went up recently on 249th and 257th streets. But he did say there are limits.

He said any building for which the developer already has a certified foundation built under permits in the current system would remain legal under the new rules. He also said the city would not declare a moratorium on new construction in the zones just to let the new rules take effect.

Existing houses that are now legal in a rezoned area would remain so even if a similar new home could not be built in a new zone.

Angela Augugliaro, president of the Queens Colony Civic Association, applauded the proposal.

“We’ve been fighting for this for 15 years,” she said. “We have 600 single-family homes. If they started to go to two-families, it would destroy the neighborhood.”

Numerous other civic associations also approved, but expressed wariness that new zoning would do nothing to curtail so-called public accommodations, such as churches, day care centers and schools, which have greater leeway within zoning regulations.

“Anything a public accommodation could do before the change, they can do in the new zone,” Young said.

The hearing will be continued on Monday at Maranatha Baptist Church at 112-42 Springfield Blvd. in Queens Village, after which the full community board is expected to vote on the proposed changes.

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