City Planning Approves Downzone Proposal: City Council To Hold Public Hearing
By Miriam Rosenberg
After sailing through Community Board 14 and the Borough President's office, a proposal to downzone Bayswater and parts of Far Rockaway was passed by The City Planning Commission at a public meeting on March 22.
The application for downzoning now moves to the City Council where the Zoning and Franchise Committee (a Land Use subcommittee) will a hold public hearing on the morning of April 10.
The road to downzoning began last September when John Young (the director of the Queens office for the Department of City Planning - DCP) and Chris DiOrio, the DCP's planner for the Rockaways appeared in front of the Bayswater Civic Association to explain their proposal to change 40 year-old zoning regulations at the request of area residents.
By January 10 of this year, Community Board 14 passed the measure unanimously after hearing from the DCP and residents of the area.
At the community board meeting, resident Edward Raskin said, "Our neighborhood is being destroyed of good housing stock and replaced with more houses on the same spot [where the homes were torn down]."
Enid Glabman testified, "[Our neighborhood] has been destroyed to settle developers greed. "They have taken advantage of outdated [laws]."
After a public hearing at the Borough President's Office just two days after CB 14's vote, the proposal was approved and sent along to the City Planning Commission who held its own public hearing on February 22.
While the February hearing saw testimony in favor of downzoning, according to the New York Sun, there was also some dissent about the proposal.
Natalie Prokop, who owns property in Bayswater with her aunt Pauline Newman, said, "[The downzone] penalizes us for being longtime property owners. We will not be able to enjoy the financial benefit our neighbors were able to realize."
The Bayswater area slated for downzone is west of the MTA subway line and is generally bound by Beach Channel Drive to the south and east, Mott Basin to the north and Norton Basin to the west. The Far Rockaway rezone lies along the Nassau County line to the east, Nameoke Street to the west and Brunswick Avenue to the north.
According to the DCP, the Bayswater/Far Rockaway rezoning proposal will rezone some areas currently designated R2 (one family detached housing) to R1-2 (also one family detached but with - among other things -larger minimum lot sizes). All, or parts, of existing R3-2, R4 and R5 (all types of houses) will be rezoned to R3A, R3X, R4A (one to two family detached) and R4-1 (one to two family detached or semi-detached) to allow for lower-density areas and to conform with the contextual look of the neighborhood.
Two of the members of the Zoning and Franchises Committee are Tony Avella and Melinda Katz.
Avella, the chair of the committee, has been working against over-development citywide and was a primary reason Mott Creek won downzoning last year. When the proposal is done in the Zoning and Franchises Committee, it will be sent to the full Land Use Committee where Katz is chair. Katz attended the Bayswater Civic Association meeting last September. At that time she gave her full support for the proposal and promised the City Council would move on it "as quickly as we can."
The April 10 hearing will be held at City Hall. It is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.