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Avella questions Flushing West rezoning proposal

By Madina Toure

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has announced his opposition to the city proposal to rezone Flushing West based on poor No. 7 service and pollution in Flushing Creek.

The Flushing West plan would clean up and rezone 60 acres on the Flushing waterfront and form a planned community with waterfront access and housing and commercial space.

The 32-acre study area runs from Prince Street to Flushing Creek on the west, Roosevelt Avenue on the south and Northern Boulevard on the north.

Avella recently met with the City Planning Department to share his recommendations and concerns.

He outlined his suggestions and issues in a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod in a letter dated Feb. 19, noting that he would revisit the proposal once they are addressed.

He said the plan is based on a “wrong premise” because the proposed development is close to the 7 train line, a major transportation route that has frequent delays and cannot handle the number of trains and people it currently services.

“This whole proposal doesn’t work because it’s based upon the subway line,” Avella said. “I’ve had people tell me that at rush hour, it is very dangerous to stand on the platform because there’s no square inch for anyone to stand (on).”

He added that he has written to the MTA asking the agency if it has conducted a strategic study evaluating factors such as the train’s maximum capacity.

“I mean, nobody’s looking at this,” he said. “These are some very serious planning issues that nobody seems to be paying attention to in the city.”

Three-quarters of the study area is zoned C4-2 for a commercial and residential zone. The northern part of the study has M1-1 zoning, or light manufacturing. The northern part along the waterfront is zoned M3-1, or heavier manufacturing.

Avella also said Flushing Creek needs to be cleaned up.

“At low tide, you smell it, so I think that they should clean it up before we start talking about putting affordable housing and low-income housing there and having to subject them to a continuous odor,” he said.

The senator said he wants to wait and see the results of projects seeking to improve Flushing Bay, including the dredging project removing sediment in the bay, which was recently completed.

He also suggested that the area median income be revised based on zip code, that the number of parking spots should be at least half of the number of units in the development and that language must be drafted that states the property is developer-built and the city is responsible for maintaining public access.

He added that whatever plan is approved, the city Board of Standards and Appeals should be strictly prohibited from changing the details after the fact.

A City Planning spokesman said the agency will work with Avella to address his concerns.

“We look forward to working with Sen. Avella and other community stakeholders and officials to develop a plan that addresses Flushing’s needs and supports its quality of life, vitality and diversity,” the spokesman said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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