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Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Queens Borough Board approved the M1 Hotel Text Zoning Amendment in a joint meeting with the Queens Borough Cabinet on July 9.

Members of the Queens Borough Board, chaired by Borough President Melinda Katz, voted 11-5 in favor of  recommending the adoption of the New York City Department of City Planning’s (DCP) proposed text amendment. The vote took place at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.

Several of the board members, including City Council members and the chairperson of each Community Board in the borough, voiced their approval on the grounds that each community board’s conditions were met.

Those who voted “no” at Monday’s meeting were representatives of Community Boards 5, 7, 8 and 9, and Councilman Paul Vallone who represents District 19 in northeast Queens. In the past, several community boards raised concerns about the hotels in the M1 districts being converted into homeless shelters.

An article on QNS.com mentioned that New York has had a long history with converting newly built hotels in areas like the Fairfield Inn in Long Island City, while planned shelters in the neighborhoods of Glendale and Bellerose fell through.

The same article mentioned that hundreds of protesters showed up to a civic meeting in College Point to rally against a homeless shelter that was rumored to go up in the neighborhood’s M1 district. Vallone said that the rumors of the homeless shelter were not true.

Last month, Community Board 5 unanimously voted “no” to the text amendment, mentioning a provision within the proposal that would exempt transient hotels from the special permit review process.

If the City Council approves the zoning amendment, it would require anyone seeking to open a new hotel within an M1 zoning district to first obtain a special permit from the City Planning Commission. Motels, tourist cabins and boatels will also be subject to the special permit.

M1 districts or light manufacturing districts include woodworking shops, repair shops and wholesale service and storage facilities according to the Department of City Planning (DCP) The current rules state that hotels, offices and most retail uses are permitted in M1 districts without any special permits.

Since 2010, the DEC said that there has been a rapid increase in hotels in M1 districts, especially in areas near transit. Currently, 13 percent of existing hotel rooms across the city are in M1 districts and 30 percent of all planned hotels are slated to be built in M1 districts.

The DCP first introduced the proposed text amendment at the Borough Board’s meeting in October 2017 as part of the agency’s environmental review process. DCP made another presentation on the proposal in May 2018.

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