By Nathan Duke
A massive plan to rezone sections of Astoria for the first time in 49 years moved one step further last week as Community Board 1 approved the project, which will limit building heights in the neighborhood and allow for commercial development.
The board voted 26-1 in favor of the rezoning proposal at its monthly meeting on Feb. 16. The plan will now go before Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, the Department of City Planning and the City Council.
“I think this will help to maintain the character of Astoria,” said Lucille Hartman, CB 1’s district manager. “Many people come to live here because we have all the benefits — shopping, restaurants and living near the city. But the neighborhood is still a community.”
Hartman said a majority of Astoria residents support the proposal, but some people in the community believe the project does not go far enough in downzoning sections of the neighborhood.
Marshall will hold a hearing on the proposal at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens March 11.
The rezoning plan is the first of its kind in the community since 1961.
The project’s boundaries are 20th Avenue in the north, Steinway Street in the east, Broadway in the south and Vernon Boulevard, Eighth Street, 14th Street and the East River in the west. A total of 240 blocks in western Queens will be rezoned as part of the project.
Areas south of the Grand Central Parkway currently have high-rise buildings as tall as 20 stories, while sections of Vernon Boulevard and 21st Street have included zones with no building heights.
Under the plan, areas north of the parkway would be limited to three stories, while portions of Steinway Street as well as 23rd and 24th avenues would only be allowed to have four-story structures. Buildings along sections of 31st Street and Ditmars Boulevard would be limited to seven stories.
The project would create commercial zones in the community and encourage the creation of affordable housing, especially near 21st Street, Vernon Boulevard and Newtown Avenue.
“It passed by an overwhelming majority,” Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria). “By June, we should have taken a huge step towards preserving the character of Astoria.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.