New Zones Protecting Homes

Woodhaven, Richmond Hill Rezoning Plans Enacted

The City Council gave final approval last Wednesday, July 25, to a rezoning plan covering 229 residential and commercial blocks in areas of Woodhaven and Richmond Hill-but with one slight modification.

This Department of City Planning map indicates the new zones instituted for 229 residential and commercial blocks within Woodhaven and Richmond Hill. The plan was officially enacted by the City Council at its stated meeting last Wednesday, July 25.

According to the Department of City Planning, all of the changes made under the rezoning plan are now in effect in the affected areas; any construction sites where at least a foundation was installed prior to last Wednesday still fall under the previous zoning rules.

Previously reviewed and approved by Community Board 9, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and the City Planning Commission, the new rules include “contextual zoning” for residential blocks designed to preserve one- and twofamily homes commonly found in both Woodhaven and Richmond Hill. Zoning regulations, however, were increased along portions of Jamaica and Atlantic avenues with the goal of allowing greater development along both commercial strips.

The Woodhaven area rezoned under the approved plan is generally bounded on the north by Park Lane South, on the east by the defunct Rockaway Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), on the west by Eldert Lane (which serves as the Brooklyn/Queens borderline) and on the south by a zigzag boundary of Ja- maica Avenue, 88th Street, 91st Avenue, 89th Avenue, 96th Street and 93rd Avenue.

One- and two-family homes in this area were previously classified under R3-1 or R5 zoning, which allows for the creation of either semidetached two-family homes or multifamily homes, respectively. The new zoning plan institutes the contextual zones of R3A or R3X, depending on the size of the property lot, to ensure that one- and two-family homes would remain.

The Richmond Hill study area is generally bounded on the north by Atlantic Avenue, on the south by 103rd Avenue, on the east by the Van Wyck Expressway and on the west by 102nd Street. It also included a small portion bounded on the north by Jamaica

Avenue, on the south by Atlantic Avenue, on the west by 112th Street and on the east by 121st Street.

Homes in this area which were previously classified under R3-1 and R5 regulations were downzoned to R4A status, which mandates that the properties have only detached one- or two-family homes. A four-block area of rowhouses which had been classified under R5 zoning were also reduced to the R4B contextual regulation.

Both Jamaica Avenue between Elderts Lane and the Rockaway Beach branch and Atlantic Avenue between 104th Street and the Van Wyck Expressway were “upzoned” to R6A, allowing for builders to construct mixed-use structures up to 70 feet in height. However, the depth of the commercial usage for lots along both strips was reduced from 150 to 100 feet in order to avoid impacting adjacent homes on residential blocks.

The one change in the plan affects a block located in Richmond Hill between Liberty Avenue and 102nd Av- enue near the Van Wyck Expressway. The Department of City Planning had proposed contextual R4A zoning, but the City Council approved a change to retain the existing R5 zoning on this block.

Local lawmakers and civic activists hailed the passage of the new rezoning plan, which followed up a similar effort enacted in 2005.

“After the Council’s vote, residents of Woodhaven and Richmond Hill will finally see an end to development that destroyed the neighborhoods’ characteristic one- and two-family homes,” said City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley in a statement issued last Friday, July 27. “The new zone also encourages economic growth along Jamaica and Atlantic avenues.”

Speaking at last Friday’s Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting, Maria Thomson- a member of the organization-observed that the new plan will help “preserve the character” of the community “for the next 50 years.”

“This is great news for our community,” added Alexander Blenkinsopp, communications director of the WRBA, in an email to the Times Newsweekly on Tuesday, July 31. He added that the organization “has long supported the rezoning.”

“The residences we have in Woodhaven are a major part of our neighborhood’s character and feel. This new plan will help ensure Woodhaven does not suffer dramatic and detrimental changes from overdevelopment. We thank [the Department of] City Planning for their work to make rezoning a reality,” Blenkinsopp said.