Major rezone clears first hurdle

After roughly five years of studies and postponements, one of the largest rezoning proposals ever offered – covering 418 blocks of Auburndale, Oakland Gardens and Hollis Hills – was overwhelmingly approved by Community Board 11 (CB11).

At the meeting, on Monday, June 7, a large crowd packed into the cafeteria of I.S. 158 in Bayside, both to speak on the rezoning and traffic conditions around local schools – in light of the recent traffic fatality involving a woman killed after dropping her child off at school.

Some of the zoning changes proposed by the Department of City Planning (DCP) would prohibit construction of two-family homes in large areas where they are currently allowed – sparking heated comments from longtime homeowners and recent purchasers who said their property values were being cut down by the change.

Another bone of contention in the Station Road section of Auburndale is a stretch of land zoned for manufacturing and formerly owned by Eutectic-Castolin, a welding supply company. DCP’s proposal calls for “further study” of this land.

CB11 voted to approve the DCP proposal, with two recommendations. One calls for the city to establish a new zoning designation to protect certain blocks of attached single-family homes, particularly of Tudor-style construction found in the area.

The other recommendation supported residents’ call for “down-zoning” the Station Road parcel to residential, noting that the area is, in fact, within CB7.

Both CB7 and CB 8 (with a single block proposed) will have to meet and vote on the plan, according to the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). After they vote, the proposal will go to Borough President Helen Marshal for a hearing and her vote, which, like the votes of the CBs, is purely advisory.

DCP will then review their proposal and submit it to the City Council, where it will be reviewed and voted by the Zoning and Franchises sub-committee, the Land Use Committee and finally by the full Council. If passed, the plan will be sent to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for his signature.

After the meeting CB11 chair Jerry Iannece explained to several irate homeowners who complained of insufficient notice that there will be an opportunity for public comment at each level of the ULURP process.