The coming months could bring major changes to the zoning code in Astoria, as a proposed rezoning, which would affect nearly 240 blocks, was released recently by the Department of City Planning and is currently under review by Community Board 1.
The rezoning, which is being proposed in order to combat overdevelopment in areas of Astoria as well as development that is uncharacteristic with the nature of the neighborhood, could be finalized by June, according to Councilmember Peter F. Vallone, Jr.
“We’re trying to funnel development to areas of Astoria that are meant for it and contain development in areas that aren’t meant for it,” said Vallone on Wednesday, January 27.
The proposal is in response to years of disorganized development in Astoria, where towering buildings have been constructed on residential blocks.
“Astoria’s dirty little secret is that there are basically only two types of zoning, R5 and R6, and R6 allows you to build almost anything. People in Astoria are just beginning to realize this as skyscrapers pop up next door,” said Vallone.
The rezoning, which would be the biggest in Astoria’s modern history, would alter the current zoning status of nearly 240 blocks. As opposed to the current zoning codes, which govern expansive areas, Astoria would become spot coded, meaning that even individual streets have been considered separately.
“The entire neighborhood will be spot zoned, to protect the nature of individual blocks. The rezoning will place building limits that will cause any new development to remain in character with what already exists in the area,” said Vallone.
For example, the Astoria neighborhood of Norwood Gardens asked for a zoning code specific to itself that would allow no new development at all. According to Vallone, this is a feature of the proposal.
“Many people have been concerned about overdevelopment throughout the city, and the character of the city’s neighborhoods is changing greatly, and that’s what prompted this proposal,” said Lucille Hartmann, District Manager of Community Board 1.
As for business owners on Astoria’s economic hubs, such as Steinway Street and Broadway, Vallone said that they are nearly all in support of the proposal. A multitude of businesses in Astoria operate on the second floor of buildings whose first floor is occupied by a storefront. According to Vallone, these businesses are illegal under current zoning laws, but would be legalized if the proposal were passed.
The proposal is currently under review by Community Board 1, which has 60 days to hold a public hearing and write a recommendation. From there, the proposal will be handed over to Borough President Helen Marshall, who will have 30 days to hold her own public hearing, and then finally will be given over to the City Council, who will be asked to give final approval.
Community Board 1 will be holding its public hearing on Tuesday, February 16 at the Astoria World Manor. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m., and anyone who would like to give their input is asked to attend.
If you cannot attend but would like to comment on this proposal, you can e-mail email@example.com prior to the meeting date.