Nostalgia is warm and comforting, but it doesn’t replace reality. Maria Collier’s March 27 letter (“Estates taxed”) calls for a return to the Jamaica Estates of 1931, when our community was a suburb in New York City. That doesn’t exist anymore, and the riding paths, golf course and walking verdant trails are a fond part of our history predating Ms. Collier.
Before zoning was codified in the 1961 Resolution, there were rather loose regulations and covenants governing neighborhoods in New York City (nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/zone/zonehis.shtml).
This Resolution designated the major portion of Jamaica Estates as an R1-2 zone, which is the most restrictive zoning, permitting only one-family houses. However, the southern part of Jamaica Estates, the subject of Ms. Collier’s letter, was designated R5, permitting up to six-story multiple dwellings. Ms. Collier is inaccurate when she bemoans “upzoning,” when in fact this area has been designated R5 since 1961.
A Rezoning Study in 2005 proposed downzoning to a more restrictive code for this section of Jamaica Estates; however, the residents of that area chose to remain an R5 zone and thus they were carved out of the final Jamaica Redevelopment study. This area was never upzoned.
The legally zoned development of commercial and multifamily dwellings one block north of Hillside Avenue is a feature that the Jamaica Estates Association has worked with city agencies and local residents to contain.
Our community is undergoing a change, a dynamic change! While Ms. Collier may bemoan the change in architecture that is becoming evident in Jamaica Estates, this change reflects a decision on the part of many young families to build homes in our community and not flee to the suburbs of nearby Great Neck or Sands Point. The rapid influx of young families into our community has also brought the next generation of residents who bring an exciting dynamism in support of their new community. What was once a declining shopping area along Union Turnpike is now a vibrant district.
The members of the Jamaica Estates Association will continue to work together with our government officials and our commercial partners in maintaining the values that have underpinned our neighborhood since it was founded decades ago. We encourage our new neighbors as well as our longtime residents to join us as our community moves into the future, to support the future of our community.