• June 25, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

A zoning loophole to close

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Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 1:58 pm, Thu Jun 6, 2019.

The Queens Chronicle has always been supportive of business, whether it’s calling for easing up on petty summonses given to mom-and-pop shops, allowing Walmart to open somewhere in town or backing the failed Amazon deal in Long Island City. And we don’t mind that a Target store is being constructed in a new building going up in Elmhurst.

But the building of the Target has revealed a strange quirk in the zoning laws that we think should be changed. Zoning in the area where the store is going, 82nd Street just north of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, limits stores to 10,000 square feet. Yet the Target will be 23,000 square feet, because it will be partially located in the building’s cellar, where the space is exempt from the zoning limit.

Huh? Is that really what lawmakers intended when they wrote the zoning law, that it can be ignored as long as you put your store below ground? We find that hard to believe.

Activists who had sued to block the store lost their case before the Board of Standards and Appeals and plan to appeal in state Supreme Court. But it’s in that very court that the exception was recognized, back in a 1997 case.

Now City Councilman Francisco Moya wants to update zoning to eliminate the loophole. Although supportive of commerce, we agree on that, as a way to help level the playing field for all businesses.

Welcome to the discussion.