2006-08-25 / Columnists

On The Beach

RP Homeowners/Residents Host Zoning Forum
With Beverly Baxter

BEVERLY BAXTER For some, "it's all about the O" and for others, it's all about the dough; however, and regardless of whether you own (or rent), it is all about the Zone.

The Rockaway Park community is at an historical cusp where we will soon have in our lifetimes an opportunity to decide upon proposed zone changes that will carve out and determine the kind of community we wish to have and that will impact the future of the neighborhood.

Although there have been recent historical zone changes to the Far Rockaway community and in parts of Northern Queens in Bayside, what makes the zone changes for the rest of the Rockaway peninsula so unique is that we have in a relatively small area so many different housing zones.

The question of where, and to what extent, these changes will impact individuals will dramatically depend upon whether those individuals will become a beneficiary of the change or endure the consequences that they might bring.

In response to the Community Planning Board 14's request for community input, the Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents Association hosted a well-attended, lively and informative discussion on the proposed zoning issue at its recent general meeting at The Beach Club on August 22.

The invited Guest Speaker was William Gati, President of the Queens Chapter of the A.I.A (American Institute of Architects) who rendered a detailed and unbiased interpretation of The Zoning Resolution Handbook that is published by the Department of City Planning.

Copies of the handbook that pertain to and represent our various zones (R1-1 thru R7B) were given out to those in attendance.

Although there were a number of developers, builders, real estate brokers and architects in the audience, all of whom enhanced the discussion, most of those in attendance were concerned residents who, while they have made their most substantial investments in their homes and will be most dramatically impacted by the changes, have little knowledge of their particular zone requirements or how changes will effect their property's value.

Also in attendance was Belle Harbor Property Owners Association President Barbara Larkin who stated that while Neponsit has decided to leave the zoning as it stands, "the residents of Belle Harbor have not made a determination and that the association is still actively gathering a consensus."

The forum was designed as an entree into the zoning discussion where Gati urged residents to have "round-table discussions about what they like, what they would like to keep, which restrictions they would like to increase or relax as they pertain to parking, FAR (Floor Area Ratio), height and set-back requirements. The immediate general consensus was to the objection of the resolution allowance of single homes being torn down and the building of several homes on a particular lot. Most were in agreement that this has a negative impact on our quality of life.

While the zoning issue is complex and one that requires much further deliberation, the Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents Association is committed to providing more of these en charette discussions in the coming weeks. Mr. has also graciously offered to attend these meetings and render his pro bono expertise.

A note of profound thanks to RPHRA President Edward Re for arranging this informative session.

There are few amongst us who have attended five years of Architecture school, apprenticed for seven years and taken nine exams for your certifications. We are most fortunate to be the continued beneficiaries of all your renowned knowledge and expertise on building codes and zoning matters. I think that the most valuable thing that we have learned from this meeting is that we are, for the first time in recent memory, empowered and encumbered with the opportunity to create and determine the kind of community we wish to have. This is not a chance to squander to the status quo; but one to behold!

***If it's all about the food, then you'll be as pleased as I am to know that Tiberio is open! After making certain repairs to the establishment, this beloved landmark restaurant is back serving our favorite Northern Italian cuisine. It was nice to see the Sullivans, Sheila and Noel Schwartz, and the many other regulars enjoying another fine evening at Tiberio's.

***See you...On the Beach

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