2005-02-11 / Community

City To Study Rockaway Neighborhoods

Year-Long Process May Not Stop
By Howard Schwach


Members of Community Board 14 (left) listen as Queens Director of City Planning, John Young, makes his presentation. Bayswater residents sit at right.
Members of Community Board 14 (left) listen as Queens Director of City Planning, John Young, makes his presentation. Bayswater residents sit at right. The Queens director of the Office of City Planning came to Community Board 14 on Tuesday night and his message was one of hope for a Far Rockaway community that wants to build larger houses and a message of despair for another community that sees its character being destroyed by the construction of homes that are “out of scale” with the rest of the neighborhood.

John Young, who heads the Queens office of the city agency, made a presentation to Community Board 14 at its monthly meeting at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Tuesday, presenting a new contextual zoning plan that would restrict the “megmansions” now being built in a number of Rockaway neighborhoods.

John Young talks about the rezoning of the Orthodox Jewish community in Mott Basin, to allow for larger homes.John Young talks about the rezoning of the Orthodox Jewish community in Mott Basin, to allow for larger homes. “Many of the houses being built today are out of scale with the rest of the housing in the neighborhood and that is often destabilizing,” Young said.

He blamed the 1961 zoning regulations that are still in force today as the major culprit.

Bayswater resident Eugene Falik shows Young pictures of over-sized new homes in his community. Young told residents it would take at least a year to study the problem and rezone the area.Bayswater resident Eugene Falik shows Young pictures of over-sized new homes in his community. Young told residents it would take at least a year to study the problem and rezone the area. Young said that there were three areas of Rockaway that were now under study for zoning change or where a study was planned.

Those communities are the Mott Creek area in Far Rockaway [West Lawrence and Seagirt Beach], Bayswater and portions of Rockaway Beach.

John McCambridge, however, questioned whether a zoning change for Broad Channel was not needed to keep large scale development on the new lots recently auctioned by the city on Broad Channel.

Young agreed to add that community to the other three for study.

According to Young, a new contextual zone, called Zone R2A has been developed for single home areas that are experiencing out of scale development.

“The present R2 zone allows potential for abuse,” he said. “We can end up with oversized homes that loom over the homes next door.”

The new zoning change would mandate lower homes with more room in both the front and rear yards.

The Mott Creek study has already been done and the paperwork is being completed for a zoning change for the area.

In Mott Creek, the Orthodox Jewish community, which traditionally has large families, asked a year ago for a change that would allow them to build larger homes on traditional lots. With the help of local politicians, that community will soon get the zoning change that it asked for.

In Bayswater, however, where the year-long study process is just beginning, it may already be too late.

“By the time your review is over, there could very well be 300 or 400 new over-sized homes in my community,” said Bayswater resident Eugene Falik as he held up pictures of new development in Bayswater. “We need a moratorium on building until the new rules can be put in place.”

Young, however, told the dozen Bayswater residents who were present that setting a moratorium would take as long as doing the study.

Young added that the new regulations would change only those projects that were in the planning stage.

“Once the foundation is in,” he said. “the game is played under the old rules.”

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