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Queens Chronicle

Community boards OK rezoning plan

New zones cover hundreds of blocks in Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill

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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:51 am, Thu Oct 17, 2013.

The two community boards that cover South Queens gave their stamp of approval to the planned rezoning of Ozone Park and parts of South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill and Woodhaven, the first in more than half a century.

Community Board 10, which the vast majority of the rezoning includes, unanimously approved the plan last Thursday while Community Board 9, which includes all of South Queens north of 103rd Avenue, voted in favor of the rezoning on Tuesday night.

A total of 530 blocks bordered roughly by the Brooklyn border to the west, the Belt Parkway to the south, Lefferts Boulevard to the east and Atlantic and 103rd avenues to the north are part of the rezoning. The zoning area also includes one block on either side of Liberty Avenue all the way to the Van Wyck. It is the second largest — and last — rezoning of the Bloomberg administration.

The acclamations from the community boards came after short debates by both. Board members saw the plans last month and earlier drafts last spring.

The new zoning aims to protect the detached and semi-detached one- and two-family homes in the neighborhood as well as the few blocks of row houses that exist in the community. It includes the subcommunities of Wakefield and Locust Grove in South Ozone Park and Centreville, Tudor Village and Liberty Heights in Ozone Park.

A second goal of the rezoning plan is to upzone the commercial strips on 101st Avenue from the Brooklyn border to the Van Wyck Expressway and most of Liberty Avenue along that same length to allow for bigger apartment buildings and more commercial properties. A similar upzoning is to be don as part of the rezoning along Cross Bay Boulevard between Liberty Avenue and the Belt Parkway and Rockaway Boulevard between the Brooklyn border and Cross Bay Boulevard and again between 109th Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard to allow for more commercial development along that stretch. A small area of Lefferts Boulevard between Rockaway Boulevard and 111th Avenue was also rezoned for potential commercial development.

A small section around the Lefferts Boulevard/Liberty Avenue intersection would be downzoned because original zoning regulations would have allowed buildings as high as ten stories.

CB 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton called on each civic leader affected by the rezoning to give their approval to the plans at last Thursday’s meeting. The Department of City Planning had been working with the various civic leaders for three years on the rezoning and the plan has been tweaked several times. Students from Ozone Park’s High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture served as interns, assisting the DCP during the process.

There were few issues with the rezoning on CB 10 except for one resident, Carl Perrera, who owns a home on Centreville Street, expressing concern the rezoning, coupled with the planned widening of the street as part of the Albert Road sewer project, would hinder his ability to conduct renovations he wished to do on his property after the sewer project is done.

“It would cause me great economic hardship to have my block rezoned,” he explained. “It would become unfeasible for me to build a decent-sized two-family house.”

Michael Casillo, owner of SOS Auto Body Shop on 98th Street in Ozone Park, said the zoning was good for his business because he would be able to expand operations.

“We would have more workspace and be able to move our office onto the roof of the building,” he said.

At CB 9, the only concern that came up is street parking.

Sandra Datnarain, a member from Ozone Park, said she was concerned increased density along 101st and Liberty avenues would lead to bigger parking troubles, already a big issue in the neighborhood.

“Does this plan also provide for parking?” she asked City Planner Tom Smith.

Smith said it would be the homeowner’s responsibility to provide the necessary parking according to the regulations.

The boards’ approval was met with praise from Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) who made the rezoning of the neighborhood a top priority during his term in office.

“What you’ve done tonight will impact and benefit the residents and businesses of Ozone Park for the next 50 years,” Ulrich said at last week’s CB 10 meeting after the board’s affirmative vote. “You will see five or 10 years from now good, responsible development in this community and you will be able to prevent the type of development we don’t want in the future.”

With the community boards’ approval, the rezoning plan now goes to the Queens Borough Board, which is expected to vote on the plan on Oct. 21, then back to the City’s Planning Commission and the City Council for the final votes.

It is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.

The Ozone Park rezoning comes just a little more than a year after the rezoning of Richmond Hill and Woodhaven was completed. The City Council approved that plan in July 2012.

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