2009-05-01 / Top Stories

Local Developers Lose Rezoning Appeal

By Nicholas Briano

Agroup of local developers, who opposed the rezoning of portions of Rockaway, had their lawsuit thrown out of court. The suit attempted to prove that the environmental review of the plan was insufficient, calling the process a "sham," according to New York City Law Department officials.

The real estate developer groups, Collier Realty LLC., B&D Development Inc., G&I Development Corp., 130 Beach 25 Street, LLC., and Edgemere Beach Development LLC., opened the suit against the City of New York in August 2008, just days after the City Council approved the zoning proposal that took years to complete.

Complaints by the group, which owns nine lots within the rezoned areas, were that an environmental assessment study was insufficient and as a result the entire rezoning proposal should be invalidated. According to the Law Department, although the companies did not identify any environmental harm that their properties would suffer as a result of the rezoning, they alleged the City's environmental review was a "sham," and because of that reason any zoning changes should be discarded.

The Court, however, found that the rezoning had been properly approved and that the City's environmental assessment fulfilled all legal requirements.

The rezoning, Rockaway's first since 1961, was designed to preserve the low-density and distinctive character of Rockaway's residential neighborhoods, but at the same time, allow and encourage commercial development to meet the needs of the area's rising population.

In August 2008, the New York City Council approved the rezoning of Somerville, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Rockaway Park and Rockaway Beach, approximately 280 blocks in all.

City Planning officials were confident that they drew up a plan suitable for the area to allow for significant commercial development in recently underserved areas of the peninsula.

"The rezoning of the Rockaways was developed through extensive collaboration with community members and after a comprehensive study of the area," City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden said after the decision. "The Court's decision supports the wishes of the area's residents to reinforce the built character of these unique beachfront neighborhoods while providing opportunities for modest growth in select locations."

The main area of contention came from Rockaway Park residents and business owners who were at odds over the proposal, which allows for eight story buildings consisting of apartments on top of a ground level retail business.

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