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Jamaica rezoning plan gains critics – QNS.com

Jamaica rezoning plan gains critics

By Craig Giammona

About 50 residents, many of them homeowners in the area to be rezoned, flooded into Amity Baptist Church on 108th Avenue in Jamaica to hear presentations from members of Community Board 12's land use committee on the plan.For many, it seemed Tuesday was the first time they heard the plan's details. Community Board 12 now has 60 days to issue a recommendation on the plan, which was officially delivered to the board's office Tuesday.The board's recommendation then goes to the Borough Board and on to the City Council. In all, the public review will take several months and it remains possible that some aspects of the plan will be changed.In fact, some in southeast Queens expect some changes.”Changes are going to have to be made to make this more palatable to the people who live here,” said Cardinal Sandiford, a member of CB 12.The ambitious rezoning plan, which is referred to as the largest the city has ever undertaken, calls for the rezoning of 368 blocks in an area bounded by the Van Wyck Expressway to the west, 191st Street to the East, Hillside Avenue to the north and 108th Avenue to the south.In that area, residential streets would be downzoned to preserve neighborhoods currently dotted with one- and two-family homes. But that's the easy part.The plan also calls for zoning that would allow major development to occur on the area's main thoroughfares – Hillside and Jamaica Avenues and Sutphin, Guy R. Brewer and Merrick boulevards.Eugenia Rudmann, a member of CB 12's land use committee, said the plan would allow 12-story buildings to pop up next to one-story homes on Merrick and Hillside.And it is exactly this scenario that has City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and David Weprin (D-Hollis) concerned. City officials also acknowledged Tuesday that buildings as tall as 25 stories could be built in the area surrounding the AirTrain terminal in downtown Jamaica, if the plan is approved.Deborah Carney, the deputy director of the city's Queens planning office, described the plan Tuesday as “very balanced.” She pointed specifically to the downzoning that will occur on some less traveled residential streets. And while it is true that residents of southeast Queens have long clamored for downzoning, some have begun to ask if the rezoning plan's negatives outweigh the positives.Redman pointed out Tuesday that while the plan will create 9,300 jobs, about 1,200 will be eliminated. Redman questioned if the employees losing their jobs will have the skills to get the new jobs. And while the plan will create a good deal of new housing, some housing will be eliminated and it again unclear if local residents will be able to afford the new buildings.Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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