2006-11-01 / Features

Board 7 Approves Queensboro Hill Rezoning

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

Continuing action designed to prevent multifamily and attached residential development in primarily one- and two-family-zoned neighborhoods within its boundaries, Community Board 7 has unanimously approved the rezoning of Queensboro Hill.

Giving its enthusiastic support to the rezoning plan, presented by the Department of City Planning (DCP) at the October meeting of the board, Queensboro Hill Neighborhood Association President and Board 7 Member Kim Ohanian said it would help protect residents' quality of life.

The rezoned area contains 105 blocks inside Community Board 7 and three block fronts in the Cedar Grove community in Community Board 8. Board 8 did not hold a public hearing but is in support of the plan. There are 2,450 residential units in the area and some current zoning will remain the same.

Beginning with the rezoning of Bayside last year, DCP established the first new citywide zoning district, R2A, since 1961. The R2A zoning district is based on the existing R2 zoning but has new floor area allowances (FARs), lot coverage requirements and revised height and setback regulations.

The three blocks in Cedar Grove currently zoned R2 were rezoned to the new R2A. The area is developed with single-family detached homes that under R2 zoning, are permitted on lots with an area of at least 3,800 square feet and a minimum width of 40 feet. But R2 zoning does not set absolute limits on building height and exempts the first floor of a house from floor area (FAR) calculations under certain conditions, which include the presence of a garage.

The flexibility and FAR exemptions under R21 zoning allow homes to almost double their floor area, resulting in the structure being torn down and redeveloped into much larger and atypical homes in R2 neighborhoods. Paul Graziano, a consultant on the issue, said the rezoning would protect these areas from "rampant abuses of overdevelopment".

Walter Koch, president of the Waldheim Civic Association, disagreed, calling the plan inept. "It doesn't prevent further development of single-family lots into two-family houses," he said. "This is just a farce, taking R2 away."

Joe Amoroso, zoning chair of the Kissena Park Civic Association, said he was thankful Kissena Park was similarly rezoned in May 2005. "We all know that it is impossible to satisfy everyone in the community, but the plan should satisfy most," he said. "I want to stop seeing bulldozers knocking down beautiful homes."

The proposed rezoning is generally bounded by the Queens Botanical Garden and Kissena Corridor Park to the north; St. Mary's Cemetery to the east; the Long Island Expressway, Queens College and Mt. Hebron Cemetery to the south, and College Point Boulevard to the west.

Other proposals for the area, such as R3-2 and R4 districts, allowing a range of housing, including detached and single-family buildings, row houses and multifamily buildings. A second goal of rezoning is to prevent the encroachment of commercial zones along Main Street and Kissena Boulevard onto residential side streets.

In other business, an application for a variance to permit construction of a two-story with cellar commercial building in an R2 zoning district at 148-29 Cross Island Parkway was approved.

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