Avella to introduce bill establishing architectural districts

By Tom Momberg

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has announced plans to introduce legislation that would create special architectural districts throughout the state. The move was prompted by the Broadway Flushing neighborhood’s losing battle for city landmark status.

The bill, still in draft form but to be introduced in the new legislative session, would create a process allowing residents to petition for their neighborhood to be protected by their local zoning authority from non-contextual architectural styles, Avella said.

Residents of Broadway Flushing have been trying to do just that by applying for historic landmark status several times over the last decade from the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, which has denied the requests, citing a range of architectural styles throughout the neighborhood.

Avella said under his bill, petitions for architectural district designation would require residents to detail a plan with the special design characteristics reflected in their neighborhood, which would have to be approved through a public hearing process.

“When it comes to protecting the aesthetic integrity of these beautiful neighborhoods throughout New York, every day that passes threatens the existence of these valued communities,” Avella said in a statement. “There needs to be another way through which residents can protect the character of their neighborhoods outside of being granted historical status, which in New York City the LPC has been reluctant to do.”

Under the concept, the city Department of Buildings or any equivalent agency in other municipalities would be made to enforce the design limits set by the architectural district designation. ~ Tom Momberg