CB 6 okays rezone plan to stave off McMansions

CB 6 okays rezone plan to stave off McMansions
By Anna Gustafson

Community Board 6 members have thrown their weight behind a Department of City Planning proposal that some residents say will help to curb over−development in Forest Hills’ Cord Meyer area.

The members approved at their March 11 meeting the department’s plan to rezone the 32−block Cord Meyer area, which some Forest Hills residents said has been infiltrated by McMansions that are out of character with the neighborhood’s older and smaller homes.

“We welcome people into our neighborhood, but we’re asking them to maintain or keep the overall feel of the neighborhood,” Steve Goodman, a member of the Association of Old Forest Hills, said during the meeting’s public hearing.

Goodman was one of several residents to speak during the public hearing in favor of the rezoning, which needs to be approved by the borough president, City Planning and the City Council before it would be implemented.

John David Young, director of City Planning’s Queens office, and department employee Joy Tien presented the rezoning plans to CB 6 members at the meeting.

“The rezoning will help ensure new houses are more suited to neighborhood context,” Tien said.

The proposal would rezone the upper−middle−class neighborhood from the current R1−2 to R1−2A. The new zoning, which would pertain to the area bounded by 66th Avenue to the north, Grand Central Parkway to the east, 72nd Road to the south and 108th Street to the west, would mandate buildings be no taller than 35 feet.

In addition, there would be a minimum front yard depth of 20 feet.

“This comes from years of constituent complaints about overbuilding in the area,” Katz said in an interview with TimesLedger Newspapers last month. “This area of Cord Meyer has been overdeveloped for the last five years or so, and in the last year we’ve been getting an enormous amount of complaints about it. There’s about 10 percent of the houses that are build out of conformity with the rest of the community.”

Cord Meyer, once known for its Tudor−, Georgian− and Cape Cod−style homes, has seen a lot of change in recent years, with newer residents tearing down the old homes and frequently replacing them with larger houses and little or no lawns — a move Forest Hills resident Enid Brownstone said disappoints her.

Brownstone noted during the hearing that many of the McMansions built in recent years have been slapped with violations from the city Department of Buildings.

Albert Dayan, a lawyer representing Bukharian homeowners, disagreed with rezoning plans, saying his clients need large homes to house their extended families. Many of the individuals who live in the larger, newer homes are Bukharian Jews, a growing population in Forest Hills, who began to move to the area after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

“Many families have three to five children, and we don’t send our elderly parents to retirement homes,” Dayan said. “We have families of eight to 10 people …. We need to accommodate our large families. We cannot fit in the new homes proposed by City Planning.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.