CB 8 takes steps to maintain community’s quality of life

By Bob Harris

At the Nov. 12 meeting of Community Board 8, the police officers who recovered the stolen sacred Torahs were given framed certificates of appreciation. The Torahs were allegedly stolen by an employee of the Kew Gardens Hills Jewish Center.

Honored were Detectives Robert Godberson and Henry Szachacz and Lt. Dennis Klein. CB 8 Safety Committee Chairman Mark Lefkof presented the certificates. Szachacz accepted the certificates and then posed with 107th Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Steven Cirabisi and 107th Precinct Community Council President Carolann Foley.

Mike Sidell gave a memorial presentation for deceased board member Bernard Sydnor. He had been an active member of CB 8 and was confined to a wheelchair due to diabetes. A car struck him as he was crossing a street.

CB 8 District Manager Marie Adam−Ovide reported that she attended a city Department of Transportation academy where the DOT gave a presentation on its new initiatives to reduce accidents and increase the efficiency of travel: Safe Routes to School, Safe Streets for Seniors and other Pedestrians and Safe Streets for Work and for Buses and More Ferries.

The DOT noted that 35 percent of traffic accidents involved seniors. It has a countdown traffic signal at 179th Place and Hillside Avenue, is coloring bus lanes, will do increased ticketing of vehicles parked in bus lanes, is marking bicycle lanes and will have increased bicycle parking.

CB 8 sent a letter Nov. 12 to the DOT to protest the new policy of installing speed bumps once it decides there is a need for one. The DOT will no longer solicit input from the local community board. CB 8 believes a speed bump creates noise when trucks or cars drive over it at night. It feels that the community should have a say.

CB 8 approved plans for an enlargement of the Kew Gardens Hills library branch to relieve overcrowding. The plans call for a 3,000−square−foot addition to the existing building, but this will cover existing yards on two sides of the building. There are no houses on these sides of the building, however, nor will light and air to neighbors or the width of the sidewalks be reduced.

The plans call for a green roof with grass. It might include solar heating. The sun will shine into the building to light rooms. There are plans to plant trees in the small triangle opposite the library. The concern of providing a variance to the zoning laws to build the addition seems to be negated by the green features. One should always study a zoning variance to make sure the community’s quality of life is not decreased. It was passed unanimously.

CB 8 voted to support the creation of residential zoning districts for one−family, occupied attached and semi−attached homes in low−density neighborhoods. When this zoning resolution is passed, after the required hearings, neighbors could petition to have their area given the new zoning, which would create a uniform 35−foot−high, 25−foot perimeter wall. Any part of the building higher than 25 feet must be set back under a pitched roof with the front yard lining up with the neighboring houses, with one parking space per dwelling unit.

This zoning is requested to prevent developers from building greater than neighboring buildings. It was passed unanimously.

Due to a request from the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Association, a resolution was passed to oppose a 10−story office building where once stood two homes at 61−29 186th Street. This building is legal under the C4 zoning, except that two−story homes and stores cover the area.

It is believed the building would cause major traffic and parking congestion; imposition on water, sewer resources and sanitation services; and loss of quality of life, with a dramatic change in the neighborhood’s residential character. This is why one must always know the zoning of all property in one’s community and change what is inappropriate.

During the public participation portion of the meeting, a resident, Richard Sand, complained about this proposed building and about the discrepancy on a work permit for a building at 69−49 185th Street, as to whether five or six units would be built. This block had been zoned R4 and now builders are able to build large structures here. It should have been re−zoned years ago, but now it is too late.

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