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Queens Borough Board votes ‘no’ to two citywide affordable housing proposals

Image courtesy of the Department of City Planning

BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI

Mayor Bill de Blasio is getting thumbs down across Queens for his affordable housing plan.

The Queens Borough Board rejected on Monday both the citywide Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) proposals made by the Department of City Planning in a 12-2 vote.

The two proposed citywide zoning text amendments would revise the current mapping of zoning districts and require the establishment of affordable housing within a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Area. The DCP’s proposals aim to provide affordable housing for the growing senior population as well as New Yorkers within a wider range of yearly earned incomes. They would also edit current restrictions on the size and shape of buildings, allowing for visual variety in architecture.

The board’s decision is part of a six-month citywide public review process started by DCP that began in late September. The plan includes separate reviews by each borough president and the boroughs’ community boards. Already having undergone this public review process, Queens is the first of the five boroughs to cast a vote on the amendments.

Ten of the 14 Queens community boards previously recommended denial of the plan. Community Board 3 approved the plan, while Community Board 1 approved it with conditions. Community Boards 5 and 10 have yet to vote on the matter.

The ZQA and MIH proposals are part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan called Housing New York. Announced in May 2014, the plan aims to build 200,000 affordable housing units across the five boroughs in 10 years.

The Borough Board is chaired by the borough president and comprised of local City Council members and the chairperson of each of the 14 community boards that operate in the borough.

Prior to Monday’s vote, de Blasio acknowledged the fervent disagreement expressed by Queens community boards.

“I obviously respect our community boards,” he said during a press conference in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. “They’re always going to raise concerns and critiques and often help us to get to a better outcome.”

Even so, he still stands by the amendments: “These are the kind of reforms we need if people are going to be able to live in this city. I’m never surprised when a community board raises concerns, particularly local concerns, but we’re going to keep moving full speed ahead to make these reforms.”

Borough President Melinda Katz will issue a separate statement in the coming days. The City Planning Commission will conduct its own review in mid-December, followed by another review by the the City Council, which will have the final say and announce its decision in early 2016.

For more information about these housing proposals, visit nyc.gov.

Editor’s note: Alina Suriel contributed to this report.

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