2000-05-31 / Editorials

Letters

Letters

Notes Election Results

To The Editor:

In reading the May 24, 2000 issue of the Gazette, I noticed that the article on page 2 entitled "Most May Crime Rates Flat in Forest HIlls," although a very interesting article, was not accurate with regard to the status of the election of the board at the 112th Precinct Community Council. The following reflects what actually occurred:

Nominations were held at the May meeting for the 112th Precinct Community Council Board, following the rules outlined by the NYPD. Heidi Chain, President of the Council, was renominated for President. Also nominated were Alan Hackman for Vice President, Todd Riesman for Treasurer, Lynn Schulman for Recording Secretary, and Karen Mongiello for Sergeant-at-Arms. Since there were no further nominations, these individuals were deemed elected by acclamation.

Linda Hoffman

Member, 112th Precinct Community Council Elections Committee

QCCDeplores UBP

To The Editor:

Borough President (Claire) Shulman read excerpts of the Queens Civic Congress statement on the Unified Bulk Program, the city’s newest effort to reform the Zoning Resolution at Borough Board meeting on May 15th. Most of the Congress’ objections to the program were included in the Borough Board’s resolution, adopted on May 15th. The City Planning Commission expects to vote on the Bulk Program during the summer. We thought your readers would be interested in the Congress’ statement:

"The Queens Civic Congress, a 97-member coalition of Queens’ major community and neighborhood groups has responded to the City Planning commission’s monumental reworking of the Zoning Resolution. In statements to the Commission and to the Borough President’s Land Use Hearing, the Congress has spoken out on elements of the program that pertain to Queens. First and perhaps most important from a Queens perspective, the Unified Bulk Program ignores our borough. The program addresses very high density districts located mostly in Manhattan. There are only a few of these districts in western Queens and in downtown Flushing.

"The Congress is disappointed that the Bulk Program does not include new low-density contextual amendments that would allow more Queens neighborhoods to be appropriately rezoned. There is a great need for a zone for one-family row houses as well as for zones that reflect other housing configurations common across Queens.

"The Congress opposes a provision in the Unified Bulk Proposal that would permit taller houses on lots in excess of 9,500 square feet in R-1 and R-2 districts. The Congress fears this would encourage consolidation of smaller lots into larger parcels to qualify for the new bonus. In built up neighborhoods where vacant lots are scarce, "McMansions" or "snout houses" that are aesthetically and contextually incompatible with their neighbors would replace older, often architecturally significant homes. This proposal would encourage lot mergers in low-density neighborhoods that the Bulk Program seeks to bar in higher density districts.

"The Congress joins community boards, civic groups and good government groups in objecting to a provision in the program for a new Special Permit to allow bigger and taller buildings when a development is deemed to be of higher quality or superior design by a panel of architects and planners (and a Commission appointee). Such a panel would, by its nature, apply non-specific, subjective evaluations in determining if a project should be exempt from objective and specific bulk and height requirements applicable to the zoning district. The Congress is troubled that the Commission would too readily defer to the "professional community" in granting exemptions recommended by the panel. As troubling is the absence of details of how or when the panel would enter the public review process or how the public would contribute to the panel’s recommendations.

The proposal by the Commission for a new Special Permit (for community facilities) by commission authorization without providing the community the opportunity to review and comment is an effort to avoid public review; exemptions, even when minor, must be conferred only after the public, community boards, and the Borough Presidents exercise their opportunity to comment and if they wish, object.

The Congress is especially troubled by the Unified Bulk Program’s failure to address the impacts of community facilities, particularly on low-density residential neighborhoods. The Bulk Program exacerbates burdens community facilities create for some higher density districts by increasing the permitted FAR (floor area ratio) and largely ignoring the problems of community facilities in lower and medium density districts. Issues ranging from the definition of community facilities, bulk bonuses, post-construction changes in use, parking to impacts on the infrastructure need to be addressed in the Unified Bulk Program.

The Congress recognizes the Commission’s monumental and long overdue effort to reform the Zoning Resolution. However, we can not embrace a citywide land use policy that fails to serve the millions of New Yorkers who live in low- and medium-density neighborhoods outside Manhattan.

We urge Queens residents to remind the Commission and their Councilmembers of the need to include further protections for our neighborhoods.

The Queens Civic Congress

Sean M. Walsh

President

Concerned Queens residents should send comments regarding the Unified Bulk Program to the City Planning Commission 22 Reade St., New York, New York 1007 and to their local City Councilmember.


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