2005-09-23 / Community

Bayswater Looks To Downzoning

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

By Miriam Rosenberg
Contributing Editor

The Bayswater Civic Association has announced plans for a community meeting on Tuesday, September 27 to address the issue of downzoning the community and to hear a presentation by the Department of City Planning to rezone Bayswater and parts of Far Rockaway.

“There has been a vast increase in housing – large properties [that once held one home] being subdivided into three, four or six houses,” said Enid Glabman, the chairperson of the Bayswater Civic Association about the downzoning proposal.

Glabman told The Wave that developers are tearing down old homes, many of which that have stood since the beginning of the 20th century. In their place have risen new homes that, she says, are not in character with the neighborhood.

Glabman called the overbuilding a quality of life issue that will get worse as the population keeps increasing.

“There is only one way out,” she said. “We are going to be choked with traffic.” Jonathan Gaska, Community Board 14’s district manager, talked about the building problem in the Bayswater area.

“It is similar to Mott Creek,” said Gaska, referring to the area in Far Rockaway which was granted downzoning after a unanimous vote by the City Council on September 15. “The community feels the underlying zoning is not compatible with the existing housing stock, and they want to preserve the look of the neighborhood.”

Gaska said the need for rezoning in Bayswater “became clear a year or two ago when the housing boom [took off] in the Rockaway and Bayswater areas.”

Glabman said the association has already attended a meeting at the borough president’s office and met with John Young (the director of the Queens office for the Department of City Planning) and his Rockaway representative Chris DiOrio.

At the upcoming meeting, Young and DiOrio are due to detail the proposed plans they have for the rezoning.

In this month’s issue of the Bayswater Civic Association’s newsletter, Bayswater Breeze, long-time community activist Eugene Falik wrote about the development in the area.

“Some parts of Bayswater were already zoned for detached, one or two family houses – and we assumed that meant that only one house could be built on the plot,” wrote Falik, who is a 55-year resident of Bayswater. “But, developers came up with the idea of turning the house at right angles to the street and putting four houses next to each other with a long driveway providing access to each house.

“Single homes have been replaced by, what amounts to, a wall of low-rise apartment houses,” Falik added.

In addition to Bayswater, rezoning for the Far Rockaway area bounded by Cornaga Avenue to Central Avenue and Brunswick Avenue and Nameoke Street to Doughty Boulevard are also to be addressed. It is expected that members of those communities may be in attendance at the meeting as well.

Councilwoman Melinda Katz, who is the chair for the Land Use committee, and CB14’s Gaska are also expected at the meeting.

If the community agrees to the plan, the steps for approving the rezoning application begin. The application will go to the community board, the borough president’s office, the Department of City Planning and then the City Council for final approval.

The meeting will take place at the Bayswater Jewish Center at 23-55 Healy Avenue at 7:30 p.m.

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All of Rockaway should be downzoned BEFORE the damage is completed. This problem was plain to see - why is it being addressed so late in the game? The worst case is illustrated on Beach 24th Street next to the original bungalow colonies where you have a huge out of character several story building stuck next to the bungalows obliterating the beach from view. There are many areas in Far Rockaway where you have no idea there is bay or an ocean anywhere nearby. We live in a beach community where open space should be prized instead we are letting developers put up attached housing and multi family dwellings and buildings that take away the very reason many of us have moved here.

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