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City Planning Commission greenlights rezoning plan for coastal community in the Rockaways

City Planning Commission
The City Planning Commission voted unanimously in favor of the Resilient Edgemere Community Plan to “turn the tide of disinvestment” and rezone vacant lots for development. (QNS/File)

The city’s plan to rezone a portion of the Rockaway peninsula in order to transform neglected publicly owned vacant lots into affordable housing, retail, amenities and open spaces, while mitigating flood risk and growing the coastal ecology was unanimously passed by the City Planning Commission on May 11.

The city’s Housing Preservation and Development initiative which would place eight acres into a community land trust, which was set in motion in 2015, will now head to the City Council in the next step of the public review process.

“The City Planning Commission’s unanimous support of the Resilient Edgemere Community Plan conveys its strength and marks an important step forward,” HPD Press Secretary William Fowler said. “We are grateful to the Edgemere community, the local elected officials, and partners across city government for their continued input as we look forward to building a more resilient future for this neighborhood.”

City Planning Commission
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The proposed land-use changes will bring more than 1,200 much-needed affordable homes, including more homeownership opportunities to Edgemere, which was inundated by the flood surge from Superstorm Sandy nearly a decade ago.

“On top of ongoing work from the federal government to help make this neighborhood more resilient, the city is also dedicated to protecting it from flooding and storm events,” City Planning Commission Chairman Dan Garodnick said. “The creation here of a Special Coastal Risk District will limit development along Edgemere’s low-lying Jamaica Bay shoreline, which is a really high-risk area that experienced significant damage from Superstorm Sandy. We are taking lessons learned from that tragic event and putting them into action to create a more resilient and protected neighborhood on the Rockaway Peninsula.”

Garodnick thanked Queens Borough President Donovan Richards for years of hard work advocating for the plan while he represented the neighborhood on the City Council.

“I am encouraged by the City Planning Commission’s vote and look forward to the City Council taking up the Resilient Edgemere Community Plan, which I recommended for approval with conditions earlier this year,” Richards said. “There is tremendous promise in this plan and the future of Edgemere is bright, but I will continue to hold all our partners accountable to ensure that certain commitments to the community are made. That includes an ironclad commitment to local hiring, MWBE participation, to the Edgemere Community Land Trust, to the construction of a new school in the neighborhood and more.”

Residents and community members had the opportunity to shape a long-term vision for the community through the Resilient Edgemere Community Plan, including workshops, a mail-in and online survey and door-to-door outreach. Despite the outreach process, Community Board 14 voted against the rezoning plan in February, in its advisory recommendation.

“I will work diligently to ensure both the development team and the city successfully work together to fulfill these commitments, equitably benefiting the entire Edgemere community,” Richards said.

Garodnick said the Resilient Edgemere Community Plan should be “championed as a big, bold step” for the community and the city as a whole.

“This community-first approach will also bring new homes, including over 450 resilient affordable homes, to higher ground close to transit on major corridors, specifically the A train,” Garodnick said. “Through this plan, housing opportunities in Edgemere will be given new life through the actions of a Community Land Trust.”

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