2017-07-12 / Front Page

‘Ridgewood Tower’ Sparks Concern For Future Zoning Plans

BY PETER LOLIS

A 17-story tower in Ridgewood has been planned for development since August of 2015, but has met opposition for nearly two years from Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and local residents. The tower is slated to be a mixed-use development with 129 units of various sizes, much larger than most buildings in the area. On March 29, Nolan sent a letter of concern to Mayor Bill de Blasio about the tower and the detrimental effects it could have on the neighborhood.

In her letter to the mayor, the Assemblywoman stated plainly that buildings such as the tower should not be built on “as of right” status. As of right allows buildings that comply with all zoning regulations to be built without any special permits or action from the Department of Buildings. In the March letter, Nolan stated “Once completed, this development will have a profound effect on infrastructure, schools, price of rental units, and has the ability to negatively affect the quality of life for our existing and potential new residents....” She calls for an end to the as of right status of building in Ridgewood and instead, more deliberation on projects with the local community board, civic groups, and the Ridgewood Tenants Association.

The Director of the Department of City Planning (DCP), Marisa Lago, responded recently, on June 21, to Nolan’s letter at the request of the mayor. Lago stated that “the proposed building is allowable under the current C4-3 zoning, which was kept in place after a robust public engagement process for the comprehensive rezoning of Ridgewood that was adopted by the City Council in 2000.” She goes on to say that the DCP believes that the development fits the neighborhood and the surrounding infrastructure well. Lago also said that the DCP is always open to meetings with the community board and other local organizations.

After receiving the response from the DCP director, Nolan responded on July 5, saying that she understands the as of right status, but believes that the nature of this project and others like it in the future demand more consideration. She stated, “This type of development has the potential to set a precedent which would allow for the possibility of additional high rise developments, which would forever alter this neighborhood’s identity.” Her concern comes from the fact that Ridgewood is historically characterized by smaller residential and commercial building structures. She believes that the 17-year-old zoning regulations do not reflect the pace of neighborhood growth. She requests Lago “revisit the zoning regulations in conference with Queens Community Board 5, my colleagues in government, and local civic organizations, to create an updated zoning plan which truly reflects the needs of the community.”

On Friday, July 7, Nolan put out a statement opposing the Ridgewood Tower and other developments of its size because of the possibility that they set a “dangerous precedent” leading to more high-rise developments. Nolan believes that as the L and M subway lines get repaired in the coming years that the neighborhood should adopt a more modest and small-structure centered zoning policy. Nolan is steadfast and intent on preventing the building of any high-rise projects without the community’s consent.


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