By Nathan Duke
Northeast Queens residents spoke mostly in favor of a massive project that would be the city’s largest rezoning to date and include more than 400 blocks in Auburndale, Oakland Gardens and Hollis Hills during a public hearing this week.
John Young, the Department of City Planning commissioner for Queens, laid out the plans for the ambitious zoning proposal during a public hearing held Monday by Community Board 11. The entire project spans 418 blocks in the three northeast Queens neighborhoods and covers CBs 7, 8 and 11.
“It’s going to curb overdevelopment,” Young said. “It’s the largest rezoning we’ve ever done.”
The borders for the Oakland Gardens and Hollis Hills portion of the project are the Long Island Expressway and 56th Avenue to the north, Alley Pond Park in the east, Cunningham Park in the west and the Grand Central Parkway in the south.
The Auburndale section’s borders are Station Road in the north, 208th Street and Francis Lewis Boulevard to the east, 166th and Robinson streets in the west and the Long Island Expressway in the south.
Most of the areas included in the project have not been rezoned since 1961.
The rezoning will prevent out-of-character development in traditional one- and two-family home neighborhoods, but also halt commercial intrusion into residential blocks.
CB 11 voted in the proposal at its Monday meeting, so the project will now go before Borough President Helen Marshall, City Planning and the City Council.
Jerry Iannece, CB 11’s chairman, said the rezoning could go into effect as early as the fall.
A majority of residents who spoke at the hearing were in favor of the proposal.
“We’ve worked really hard in the neighborhood,” said Elaine Guthrie of Oakland Gardens. “This is not the neighborhood we came to, but we are trying to preserve it to any degree possible. We want to preserve it for the future residents of the neighborhood.”
Some residents said they were in favor of the proposal, but found it flawed.
“People who have lived here for 60 years will be penalized,” said Joseph Rosenberg of Oakland Gardens. “For single-family homes surrounded by two-family homes, it will be difficult to sell their houses if they can’t change to two-family homes. It will devalue their homes by about $1,000. We don’t want gigantic, attached two-family homes. They are horrible.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.