Members: Preserve Industrial Space In ‘SOMA’
A Ridgewood owner’s request for a zoning variance to build a three-story residential development on an industrial lot was rejected by Community Board 5 at its monthly meeting last Wednesday, June, 11 at Christ the King High School in Middle Village.
Board 5’s Zoning and Land Use Review Committe recommended allowing a variance for the site located at 1504-1506 Decatur St., an empty lot zoned for manufacturing use, but several board members objected to changing the zoning for residential purposes.
Opponents claimed it would further diminish the manufacturing base, set a dangerous precedent in favor of housing development and further alienate business from the
The site was occupied by a onefamily building until it was demolished in 1971, a representative of the owner said at Board 5’s May 14 meeting.
Reportedly, the owner claimed he could not profit from the site’s limited uses under the existing manufacturing zoning.
“We felt in the end, that this lot was too small to build what is demanded for manufacturing,” Walter Sanchez, Board 5 Zoning and Land Use Committee chairperson, stated. “We felt it really is not setting a precedent. We felt this is an exception to that. We have no objection to developing a six family building on the site.”
Following Sanchez’s committee report, Board 5 member Ted Renz presented a minority opinion against the variance.
The site is within the South of Myrtle Avenue (SOMA) Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) recently created by the city, Renz pointed out.
He feels a housing development is not the best use of the property.
“Industrial Business Zones were created as a tool to prevent and not allow residential development in these M zoned areas, and this proposed lot for residential development is part of Ridgewood’s SOMA IBZ District and therefore, no residential development is permitted and it should therefore, be withdrawn for consideration for this type of development,” Renz stated.
Renz’ report against the variance argued for the need to preserve the area for manufacturing. He believes manufacturing is vital to the area and provides dependable, middle-class incomes for employees.
“These are exactly the kind of jobs we need to bridge the gap between New York’s Tale of Two Cities,” Renz said. “According to the New York State Department of Labor, the average annual wage fro a manufacturing worker is over $53,000 plus benefits compared to $36,000 for retail and $24,500 for food related service.
In the report, Renz suggested the owner explore a mixed-use M-X zoning designation that would allow for manufacturing and housing in the same building.
“This area may have further potential to think out of the box to explore potential for an M-X district which would mandate ground floor use (in this case the first and second floors) for manufacturing with affordable housing above,” he said.
“Ridgewood has a long proud manufacturing history and that these jobs have historically been considered gateways to the middle class,” Renz said. Manufacturing businesses are being priced out of traditional industrial neighborhoods in NYC. This is due to economic pressure that makes it more profitable to convert industrial space to commercial and residential property uses.”
After debating the issue, Board 5 voted down the committee recommendation and adopted the minority opinion as the position of Board 5.
City Council Member Antonio Reynoso has informed Board 5 that he is concerned about allowing variances for housing development in IBZ’s. He is also wary of building residences in the vicinity of the Superfund site at the former Wolf- Alport chemical company.
“I stand with Council Member Reynoso in opposition to this variance,” added Jean Tanler, a Board 5 member who is director of Industrial Business Development for the Maspeth Industrial Business Association. “The economy goes in cycles and we are on the upswing.”
Letter on homeless shelter
District Manager Gary Giordano informed the board of a letter he wrote and forwarded to Lisa Black, the assistant commissioner of government and community relations at the NYC Department of Homeless Services appraising her of a public hearing held on Thursday May, 22. In the letter Giordano outlines 15 points informing that Board 5 remains opposed to Samaritan Village’s use of a site on Cooper Avenue in Glendale as a transitional residence for homeless families.
The board remains concerned the site is not appropriate due to possible contamination, because there isn’t direct bus service, a freight line sits behind the building. Questions also remain surrounding the organizations “inappropriate” expense of more than $900,000 in state contract funds from the office of the comptroller, according to the letter.
Executive committee elections
Board 5 held its executive committee elections last Wednesday night and re-elected Chairperson Vincent Arcuri, First Vice Chairperson Walter Sanchez, Second Vice Chairperson Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Treasurer Kathy Masi, and Secretary Margaret O’Kane to their positions, respectively. The board also re-appointed members -atlarge Pat Grayson, Fred Haller, John Maier and Ted Renz.
Arcuri announced that demolition notices were submitted for two properties in Ridgewood; 335 and 337 St. Nicholas Ave.
The board also received the following liquor license applications:
– New liquor licenses for Ridgewood Coffee and Liquor Co. Inc., d.b.a. Onderdonk & Sons, located at 566 Onderdonk Ave. in Ridgewood; Ron Reagan’s Leotard Inc., d.b.a. Bierleichen, located at 582 Seneca Ave. in Ridgewood; Popper’s Locarno LLC, d.b.a. Popper’s Locarno, located at 1563 Decatur St. in Ridgewood; and Ltauha Restaurant LLC, d.b.a. Ltauha Restaurant, located at 55-50 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood.
– Liquor license renewals were submitted for Carom Corp., d.b.a. Arena Billboards & Cafe, located at 341 St. Nicholas Ave. in Ridgewood; Nostro Joes Inc., d.b.a. Joe’s Restaurant, located at 66-11 Forest Ave. in Ridgewood; and The Simply Dip Corp., d.b.a. Simply Fondue, located at 71-19 80th St. in Glendale.
– New wine or beer licenses were submitted for Carla’s Diner Inc., d.b.a. J & R Jr’s Diner, located at 58- 16 59th St in Maspeth.
Anyone wishing to comment on any of the applications may do so by calling Board 5’s office at the number listed below.
The next Community Board 5 meeting will be held on July 9 at Christ the King High School, 68-02 Metropolitan Ave., on the third floor in the CNL Room. All meetings begin at 7 p.m. For more information, call Board 5’s Glendale office at 1-718- 366-1834.