With more and more large-scale developments being built all across Ridgewood, the members of Community Board 5 (CB 5) are looking to again rezone parts of the neighborhood to preserve the historic look and feel of the buildings in the community.
During the board’s Nov. 8 meeting at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, the board’s Zoning and Land Use Committee presented the full board with a proposal to create the neighborhood’s fourth rezoning in order to curb overdevelopment that would be detrimental to the character of the community.
In the proposal, Zoning and Land Use Committee Chair Walter Sanchez asked the board to vote on a planned down-zoning of the residential sectors in Ridgewood, while allowing an up-zoning in the community’s manufacturing districts.
The full board voted 32 to 1 in favor of the committee’s proposal on rezoning Ridgewood’s manufacturing and residential districts.
“We have an opportunity right now to rezone Ridgewood and really downzone some of the beautifully designed, constructed residential blocks, while at the same time … we look at another zoning designation for some of those manufacturing properties that would allow for the value to increase,” Sanchez told the board. “They could build residential as well as preserving some of the manufacturing.”
The proposal asks to rezone two-and three-family R6B zones to R5B zones, which limits building height to 33 feet. Many of the homes in the R6B zone conform to R5B zoning regulations. However, there are four apartment buildings on Madison Street between Fresh Pond Road and 60th Lane which are currently zoned as R5B. These, the committee recommended, become an R6A zone.
The proposed rezoning also looks to change the two- and four-family houses in the R5B zone to an R4B zone, with a building height of 24 feet. The homes in this zone are consistent to R4B zoning regulations as attached and semi-detached, two-story, two- and four-family, flat-roofed row houses.
The committee is also looking to rezone the small R4 zone along Cypress Avenue from DeKalb Avenue to Troutman Street to an R3-2 zone. According to the committee, the New York City Zoning Handbook describes an R4 district as usually producing three-story buildings. This area currently has mostly two-story, one- and two-family detached and semi-detached homes, with only a few three-story buildings—which more closely adheres to the R3-2 regulations.
“Basically, we’re proposing rezoning districts of Ridgewood to match what is actively built there and maintain the character,” Sanchez said. “The present zoning in most cases would allow the height of the buildings and the number of units to increase; and this could increase the population by as much as 60 percent.”
The committee, however, is conscious of the neighborhood’s growing need for housing, which is why they have included an up-zoning of Ridgewood’s industrial zones.
In their proposal the committee gives the following recommendations:
- converting all M1-D and M1-1 districts within Ridgewood to M1-4 with an MX overlay;
- mandate manufacturing uses on the first three floors; allow residential uses, up to two additional floors, with at least 50 percent of the residential units made available under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inclusionary, affordable housing criteria and sold to the owner occupants as low/moderate-income condominiums;
- require the entire building to be a condominium where the occupants of both the residential and industrial units must be the owners, in order to reduce “flipping” of the properties; and
- not allowing subletting by any owner.
M1-4 Districts allow for high tech industrial and light manufacturing uses, while excluding community facilities, hotels, self-storage facilities and a host of other uses.
According to the committee, the MX Designation would create as many as 1,000 new units of affordable housing.
“We’ve got to start somewhere,” Sanchez said. “The zoning that we did back 17 years ago kind of allowed for this, but we didn’t think it would really happen. And there were other considerations that we gave up at that time when we did the rezoning.”
The lone “no” vote on the proposal came from CB 5 chair Vincent Arcuri because he doesn’t not agree with the premise of the MX district and does not believe they can mandate a property owner must create a condominium.