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Queens Chronicle

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Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2008 12:00 am

Rezone Now

Dear Editor:

Over 100 concerned people attended the Feb. 19 meeting of the Auburndale Improvement Association. The main topic of discussion for the evening was the need for contextual rezoning for communities not yet rezoned, including Auburndale.

Although we tried to pin down the invited Department of City Planning representatives as to what time frame we were looking at for the rezoning of Auburndale and other communities, we could not get a commitment from them, just more generalities and excuses. Our organization will continue to press Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, Queens Director of City Planning John Young and Borough President Helen Marshall to rezone Auburndale. We will not stop until that process is successfully completed.

Our organization received a lot of support at the meeting to lobby for rezoning. We would like to thank Councilman Tony Avella and Sen. Frank Padavan for coming and speaking on behalf of then Auburndale community as well as advocating for community preservation in general. Urban specialist Paul Graziano also gave an informative presentation and he deserves our thanks for his continued dedication and effort to protect the character of our neighborhoods.

It was a very successful evening and a lot of attention was focused on the need for contextual rezoning of all communities not already completed. In northeast Queens, Auburndale, Oakland Gardens, Hollis Hills, North Flushing, Broadway-Flushing, Waldheim-Holly and sections of Bayside and Bellerose are still waiting after years of broken promises from City Planning. These communities want the same protection from overdevelopment and inappropriate development that communities that have already been rezoned.

Now that the American Institute of Architects has withdrawn its self serving proposal to change parts of the zoning text, the City Planning Commission should have additional time and staff available to conduct rezoning initiatives in those areas awaiting contextual rezoning.

Henry Euler,

zoning and housing chairman,

Auburndale Improvement Association

More On Rezoning

Dear Editor:

I attended the Auburndale Improvement Association’s meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19 in order to show support for the rezoning effort taking place there, which, like our Maspeth-Middle Village rezoning study, has been going on since 2005. What I heard was both disheartening and familiar.

Auburndale was apparently told that they were at the top of the list to be rezoned just prior to the 2005 election. Their community was given false dates for study completion and was pushed to the bottom Department of City Planning’s priority list because the massive upzoning of Jamaica, the taking on of the Willets Point project and closed-door meetings with private developers were made priorities. This is the exact same scenario that we have experienced in our neighborhood.

I heard one attendee suggest that members of the Auburndale civic organization assist city planners with the surveying work that needs to be done. The Juniper Park Civic Association did just that in 2005 — every house in the zone was surveyed and the data was handed over to the City Planning.

All of that effort was wasted because it didn’t expedite things one bit and we are still waiting for our rezoning plan to be certified. During this time, teardowns of one-family homes and the erection of multifamily dwellings have been epidemic.

This leads me to conclude that city planning has a standard set of excuses for communities redlined for overdevelopment. They keep stringing us along with empty promises hoping we’ll finally get fed up and either stop asking or move out.

Somehow I doubt that Queens Director of City Planning John Young lives in a community that is plagued with oversized McMansions or multi-unit Fedders houses. Neither do City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden or Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Why should they care about solving our problems?

There’s no election coming up and it’s much more fun to talk about the fantasy land that they envision NYC being in the year 2030 with a million more people. Unless something is done to stop the rampant destruction of our neighborhoods, there won’t be a livable Queens to look forward to in 22 years.

Christina Wilkinson,

Maspeth

No Borders

Dear Editor:

A country, and its national identity, is defined by its borders, language and culture. In a recent debate, the Democratic presidential candidates violated their oath to protect our nation by repudiating the elements which constitute our national identity.

In spite of the havoc on our southern border caused by drug smugglers, illegal alien transporters, and lack of personnel to control the unfenced border, neither candidate is committed to closing the border by building a non-porous fence or barrier to prevent illegal crossings.

Both candidates offer amnesty to over 12 million illegals already within our borders along with a path to citizenship and all the benefits that come with that privilege. All that and more is promised to those who broke the law and crossed our “border” illegally.

Both candidates voted against legislating English as our official language but hope that English would remain an important part of our daily lives.

My concern is if we have a country with no borders inundated with uncounted illegal aliens who speak no English and no official language where the rest of us must hope to be lucky enough to find someone with whom we can communicate, what have we become? Who are we? Are we losing our identity? Or have we already lost it.

Ed Konecnik,

Flushing

Slander Against McCain

Dear Editor:

I was appalled and dismayed at the slander layed upon Sen. John McCain by the New York Times article.The story accuses the McCain had a improper relationship with a female lobbyist, which both denied. Here is a man of integrity being assaulted by the Times, whose job is to report on the truth.

The Times has shown once again that it cannot exercise good journalistic judgement when it comes to dealing with a true man of honor. I think maybe the New York Times is afraid that Senator John McCain could be the next president. Furthermore McCain is a candidate that some middle of the road democrats would find hard to hate.The New York Times has reach a new low in my book.

Frederick Bedell Jr.,

Bellerose

Editorial Reply

Dear Editor:

Contrary to what your editorial stated (“The Accountability President,” the Queens Chronicle, Feb. 21) President George Bush did not attempt to “ram down their (Congress’) throats” a security bill. In actuality, the administration worked with Senate Democrats to craft a bipartisan bill that passed with 69 votes.

The bill went on to the House where there are enough Democrats who were willing to work with the Republicans to pass the legislation. It was the House leadership that refused to let the bill come up to a vote.

It just so happens that trial lawyers who would lead any class action suit against the telecoms for alleged invasions of privacy contributed $1.5 million to Democratic causes. Where is the outcry over the power of lobbyists liberals usually have?

It should be pointed out that despite all the protests that the current administration is violating our rights, only one individual has successfully sued the government over privacy violations. That was in connection with a U.S. citizen who was accusedof being involved with the Madrid train station bombing.

In the meantime, since Sept. 11, terroristbombings have occurred all over the world except in the U.S.Usually the government does not get things right.However, in this case, instead of complaining, we owe the President our gratitude for keeping us safe.

Lenny Rodin,

Forest Hills

Willets Point

Dear Editor:

The displacement of 225 viable businesses employing about 1,300 persons in Willets Point, that will undoubtedly involve hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and tax perks for wealthy real estate developers, is a matter of grave concern deserving of the utmost scrutiny and full and open disclosures. Back room political shenanigans and ambiguities have no place in the proposal and do not serve the public interest.

One need not speculate that Mayor Bloomberg and members of the city’s Economic Development Corp. the proponents of the proposal, would not buy a suit of clothes without first trying it on; purchase an automobile without being apprised of all of its features; invest in a business without the knowledge of its every single aspect.

Yet, when it comes to Willets Point, they have the arrogance to push for a ULURP and zoning change with the public kept in the dark about anything but the barest details. The notion that 300 skilled people at Willets Point, a pittance of the total, will be retrained for other jobs without specifying what kind of jobs and where they are, is an example of the snake oil being pedaled by the proponents. Equally offensive is the claim the 225 businesses will be relocated. Where? There is little empty space left in this city and what is left is reserved for the fat cat developers.

City Council members John Liu, Hiram Monserrate and Tony Avella have every right to drop support for the proposal and should be congratulated for breathing fresh air in what may well be a public rip-off on a grand scale.

Benjamin Haber,

Flushing

Under Assault

Dear Editor:

As you may be aware, Queens is under assault by builders looking to make their profit in a real estate market that has up until recently been unstoppable. The City Planning Commission headed by Amanda Burden and John Young in Queens rezoned several areas in Queens but have left certain communities wide open for these unscrupulous builders. One of these communities is north Flushing. Because much of northeast Queens has been rezoned, we are now the main target of every builder in the area.

City Planning was supposed to rezone our area two years ago! They are constantly making excuses and telling us that we are next on the list, all in the effort to stall us. In my view the failure to rezone this wonderful area was deliberate. The city wants all this overdevelopment to occur at any price. Never mind that the infrastructure can't support it and that Queens was not designed to be Manhattan where many people take mass transit. Parking problems now are the rule and we are experiencing congestion like never before. Queens also has flooding problems like never before which I believe is due to all of the overpaving of properties.

Imagine when a single-family home turns into a four-family home. Builders have now resorted to paving over the front yards for parking! Everyone has seen how unsightly this is.

What the residents of north Flushing and even the residents of other areas of Queens would like to know is why these communities? Why are honest taxpaying citizen's wishes being cast aside to accommodate these builders only out to make a buck? What is the real reason City Planning will not rezone our areas? I don't buy that they will get around to it. They are purposely stalling us.

Rose Forkan,

Flushing

Welcome to the discussion.