CB 2 OKs rezoning of two communities

Joe Conley of Community Board 2 said Thomas Smith (r.) from the Department of City Planning was instrumental in creating a rezoning of Sunnyside and Woodside which CB 2 recently approved.
By Rebecca Henely

Eateries on Queens Boulevard can pull out their chairs and their tables.

Last Thursday, Community Board 2 approved a wide-scale rezoning plan in Sunnyside and Woodside to put a cap on out-of-character buildings throughout the communities as well as allow for small, unenclosed sidewalk cafés.

Joe Conley, chairman of CB 2, said the zoning passed at the meeting with few objections.

“People understood the importance of correcting a lot of things wrong with the zoning,” Conley said.

The Sunnyside-Woodside rezoning had been in the works for about two years, with Thomas Smith of the Department of City Planning assisting CB 2. With the goal of ensuring that new growth in the neighborhoods was consistent with the character of the community, the community board downzoned 2,800 lots on 130 blocks, much of which had not seen a change in zoning since 1961.

At CB 2’s March meeting, Conley said in the past the neighborhoods had often seen six-story buildings come up in areas of two-story family homes, which was something the board wanted to prevent.

“He really listened to the community,” Conley said of Smith’s work.

The rough borders of the rezoning area are the Sunnyside Rail Yard, 37th Avenue, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the New York Connecting Railroad, 72nd Street, Woodside Avenue, Roosevelt Avenue, 48th Street and 39th Street. The zoning imposes height restrictions and some commercial overlays, and allows developers to build taller buildings if they have a percentage of the residential units be affordable housing. It also encourages housing to be developed along the main drags of transit and lets retailers create outdoor cafes.

Conley said this plan allows for development where it is appropriate.

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” he said, “to protect the community, preserve the community.”

Nothing changed in the plan from when it was presented at CB 2’s March meeting. Conley said he believed this was because any issues with the plan had been solved in either the four public hearings or the numerous meetings CB 2 held on the issue.

As per the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) the rezoning will next be reviewed by Borough President Helen Marshall’s office. If it approved it will be reviewed by the City Plannig Commission review and then the City Council before being seen by Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s office.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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