Far Rockaway Rezoning On Fast Track After CB 14 OK
By Miriam Rosenberg
The proposal for rezoning in the Mott Creek and West Lawrence areas is on a fast track for possible final approval by the City Council in September.
Jonathan Gaska, district manager for Community Board 14, spoke to The Wave about the significance of the rezoning.
“Importantly for Mott Creek it will not allow attached housing, and you won’t have row houses like were just built,” said Gaska.
“For West Lawrence it will allow slightly larger homes than now to accommodate the needs of the orthodox community.”
A hearing was held on July 14 at the Queens Borough President’s office where the application also won approval.
The City Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing on August 10 with a vote to follow. It will then go to the City Council.
“Our understanding is that the City Council is supportive of the rezoning,” Gaska said.
“Thanks to Councilman Tony Avella I understand it will pass as well.”
Avella, the chair of the Franchise and Zoning Committee, became involved in the Mott Creek struggle last September. Residents invited Avella to take a look at the over-development taking place there.
During his visit, Avella was struck by the out-of-context building in the neighborhood.
Avella called the construction at 304 Seagirt Avenue, near Beach 3rd Street, a monstrosity.
“This is a beautiful one-family, bungalow community, and it’s a shame that it can’t remain that way,” said Avella at the time.
The residents also wanted their R5 zoning, which allows for multiple size housing, changed.
“The faster we get City Planning to do something the better,” Avella said about rezoning.
To speed things along, the Mott Creek residents came together with those of West Lawrence, who already had a rezoning application in.
The current zoning in West Lawrence prevents residents from adding on to their homes. In January 2004, they held a meeting to discuss their desire to expand their homes.
“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… there’s very few basements,” said architect Steve Wygoda (who was working with the residents) in 2004.
Gaska said the new zoning would not affect buildings whose foundations have already been laid, and that worries the residents of Mott Creek. While they are happy about the impending zoning changes, they believe that time is of the essence in passing the law.
“Unless [the zoning changes] in a couple of weeks we’ll lose,” said Susan Wagner of Mott Creek. “On Beach 5th Street…the pilings are in, but the concrete has not been poured yet. We’re hoping we can beat the concrete.”
There seems to be some differing opinions on the foundation issue.
“The foundation must be complete and approved before the new zoning becomes law,” said Paul Graziano of Associated Cultural Resource Consultants and the zoning and land-use chair of the Queens Civic Congress.
When John Young, who is the director of the Queens Office of the Department of City planning, spoke with The Wave the question of when a foundation is legal before a zoning change became more clouded.
“We’re working that out with the Department of Buildings,” said Young. “ The zoning regulations only say that the foundation has to be completed. It doesn’t say how. We worked it out before, and we will continue to in the future.”
Mott Creek’s R5 zoning would be divided into two new zones – R3-1 and R4A – and keep new homes consistent with the one and two family homes in the neighborhood. The whole area runs south of Seagirt Boulevard, beginning at Beach 6th Street, stops at the Nassau County line and the East Rockaway Inlet.
The West Lawrence designation of R3-1 would change to R4-1 and give residents the ability to enlarge their homes. That area is located north of Seagirt Boulevard, up Beach 9 Street, along Hicksville Road and to the Nassau County line.