2007-11-16 / Community

City Planning Gives CB14 Rezoning Timeline

By Nicholas Briano

Queens Director of The Department of City Planning, John Young stands before Community Board 14 with the proposed draft map of zoning changes. Queens Director of The Department of City Planning, John Young stands before Community Board 14 with the proposed draft map of zoning changes. The Department of City Planning presented a timeline on Tuesday night at the monthly meeting of Community Board 14 for the re-zoning of the entire Rockaway Peninsula, a long-standing issue of interest within the community ranks.

Rockaway, which has not been completely rezoned since 1961, is in the process of a peninsula-wide land use restructuring that will enable commercial building in many underdeveloped areas throughout many neighborhoods. Most areas on the peninsula have not seen much commercial growth, due to the zoning restrictions put on commercial developers.

Representing City Planning was Queens Director John Young, who presented Community Board 14 with a set of proposed changes in zoning, most of which lie in residential areas because most of the peninsula is already zoned for residential development. However, several areas in Rockaway Beach and Rockaway Park, particularly on Rockaway Beach Boulevard will be rezoned to encourage business development. City Planning also wants to do the same around Beach Channel Drive and Beach 60 Street, near the newly developed Arverne by the Sea homes.

"We have been trying to update the zoning for commercial overlay," Young said. "We know that there are actually more businesses developed here than what the zoning had actually designated in 1961."

Young also continued to emphasize another key point about the newly developed Arverne East, where they are still looking at better places to encourage commercial development in the area zoned for the neighborhood's main shopping plaza.

"We have been looking at a few instances where we can better harbor commercial development opportunities," Young said about Arverne East. "We know it's important to provide opportunities for business growth and employment opportunities."

However, any definite changes still aren't expected any time soon, as the newly developed land use designs are still in the draft stages and have not entered the legal process yet.

The legal process, which is expected to begin by early spring, must go though several stages before the zoning changes are made and finally approved by the City Council.

Young continued on by describing several key milestones that are critical to the successful rezoning of Rockaway. The first step in the legal process is an Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) that must be produced to get the process started anytime zoning changes are requested.

An EAS must be filed with the city to outline the intent of change. The process takes 3 months once the final documents of the EAS are filed with the city. This is the process slated to start around early spring of next year.

After those three months, the re-zoning plan goes to the certification stage. Young explained that during this process all documents are formally submitted to city officials in a four-step process over seven months, called a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). The Community Board has 60 days to approve final plans, the Borough president then has 30 days to review and approve and recommend any changes to City Planning, and then the City Council has another 60 days to give it the final approval. After all that, Rockaway could finally be rezoned, but Young says that in places with few modifications to the final plans, the ULURP process can be completed in as little as four months.

"It can actually be expedited," said Young. "In areas where there is less controversy and more widespread support and favorable recommendations, we can actually complete the process in as little as four or five months."

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