East End Residents Seek New Zoning Regulations
East End Residents Seek New Zoning
Orthodox 'West Lawrence' Community Seeks Right To Expand Homes
By Miriam Rosenberg
Residents of West Lawrence, who say they want to expand their homes as their families grow, voted in favor of changing residential zoning regulations in their neighborhood at two meetings held this month.
The community will now request the changes from the Community Board, and then City Planning will begin a study. The request will also go to Universal Land Use for a committee hearing and a public review, followed by the Borough Pres ident and then City Planning. At each step there will be reviews, public hearings and votes.
It could take about a year for the entire process and any new zoning regulations to become law, according to Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska.
With the wind chill at -10 degrees, West Lawrence community members of Far Rockaway gathered for the first of two meetings on January 15 (a second meeting was held on January 19) to discuss changes in zoning regulations that would allow home owners in the area to expand their homes.
The first meeting was hosted by the Jewish Community Council of the Rock away Peninsula and the West Law rence Civic Association in respon se to several homeowners who want to make additions to their homes to accommodate their growing families.
The meeting on January 15 allowed the Director for City Planning for Queens, John David Young, architect Steve Wygoda and Gaska to speak dir ect ly to the residents of the West Law rence area and explain the pros and cons of the proposed rezoning regulations.
"What we are interested in is some more bedrooms for the kids so there's not three or four to a room, a little larger kitchen... we have some water tables here, flood zones here, there's very few basements, there's very few storage areas in this community," said Wydoga, who spearheaded the idea for a zoning change when he saw that families in the area needed more space. "These are very dire needs for every one of the families who live here."
Expansion in the West Lawrence area, which lies roughly from Beach 9 Street and Empire Avenue eastward to the Nassau Border and north to Sea girt Boulevard, is forbidden under current zoning regulations. The area is divided into two districts known as R2 and R31. Both are zoned residential areas that restrict the size of homes and set specific land use guidelines.
R31 parcels are smaller pieces of land than R2. Also, R31 houses are detached or semi-attached.
The zoning regulations would be rewritten to allow what is known as 'special permits.'
"The special permits allow the ex pansion of both houses - one or two family houses det ach ed or semi-attach ed," said Young.
"I'm not sure it will have any implications [for the rest of Rockaway]. [They are] particular issues to a specific community," said Gaska during an interview with The Wave concerning the possible zoning changes.
"It's a creative way for folks to have more room without permanently chang ing the zoning. This allows for [houses to be a little bigger] without jeopardizing the residential character of the neighborhood."
If the new regulations become law, each property owner's plans would have to go before a review board before making any changes to their homes.
"Once it is on the books, each owner would have to hire an architect or someone to explain to the Board of Standards and Appeals the enlargements being sought," explained Young, who pointed out that any expansion has to blend in with the character of the neighborhood.
Wygoda said that any changes made to property would, basically, not be noticeable and would not affect the look of the community.
"The house will look the same, but we'll be able to add more floor area - generally in the back," said Wygoda, who assured that the plan isn't calling for large expansions like seen in Borough Park. "We'll be able to go back another ten feet in the yard for two floors and do something in the attics," he said.
Young also tried to calm fears that homeowners would use the extra space for renting out separate apartments.
"The rules will not allow the creation of a new dwelling unit," continued Young.
Two votes were taken on the matter. At the end of the first meeting those in attendance voted in favor of the change. At the second meeting, community residents, most of whom were not at the first meeting, voted unanimously in favor of changing the zoning regulations for the area.
"People will have multiple opportunities to be heard," said Gaska about the process.
Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer attended the meeting and saw nothing but good in the plan.
"It will improve the growth of the community," said Pheffer. "People will not have to move out of the community [because their house has become too small]. They'll be able to stay right here."