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Dutch Kills rezoning proposal passed along

Residential construction has been banned for 47 years in the Dutch Kills neighborhood, even though almost half of the buildings amid its commercial and industrial structures are houses. For years, residents have wanted to see this ban lifted and they soon will.
On Tuesday, July 15, Borough President Helen Marshall released her recommendations about the rezoning, which is going to cover 40 neighborhood blocks roughly bounded by 36th Avenue, Northern Boulevard, 41st Avenue, and 23rd Street.
The new zoning will preserve the right to build commercially and industrially, but on a lower scale for most of the neighborhood than what is possible today; it will also allow residential construction.
The Borough President approved of this zoning plan intended to create a mixed-use district and gave three recommendations, said Alexandra Rosa, chief-of-staff in the Borough President’s office.
First, commercial and industrial construction in the neighborhood should be a little higher - with Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 3.0 - than what the Department of City Planning’s original proposal calls for - FAR of 2.0.
“Several of these property owners have testified that the reduction in FAR from 5.0 to 2.0 would impede their ability to maintain or expand business,” the recommendation reads. “They have also expressed concerns that new residential development may inhibit their ongoing business activities.”
Second, on 32nd Street, the limit for the height of residential structures should be more than the 33 feet proposed in the original plan because the residents on this street have been complaining about being dwarfed by non-residential buildings twice their size, said Rosa. City Planning should consult the residents of that street and come up with a new limit, Rosa added.
Third, since over the past year 14 hotels in various stages of completion have sprung up in the middle of this small neighborhood’s residential blocks, the Borough President recommends that hotel construction be restricted to Northern Boulevard and its vicinity where buildings are higher.
This hotel construction boom is a result of the developers’ efforts to beat the zoning because soon they won’t be able to build as high. But Dutch Kills residents have been complaining about hotel construction amid their houses because these hotels are at least twice the size of their homes.
“This will be a tremendous lift to the residential community and we can live with the Borough President’s recommendations,” said George Stamadiades, executive director of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, which has been working with the city to make the rezoning happen.
“We have been struggling since God’s creation to get residential,” Stamatiades said.
With the new zoning residents will no longer have to go through red tape and pay high variances to the city if they need to rebuild their houses in cases of disaster.
The rezoning proposal is now on its way to the City Planning Commission, which will start reviewing it on July 23. The Commission has no more than two months to do that. Afterwards, the proposal is up for City Council review before becoming a reality this fall.

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