Jamaica Rezoning Proposal Not Well Recieved
From the New York Sun
Jamaica Rezoning Proposal Is Drawing Fire in Queens
BY ELIOT BROWN – Special to the Sun
March 29, 2007
Jamaica residents and local legislators are criticizing the city’s planned rezoning of the Queens neighborhood.
The 368-block plan is part of the Department of City Planning’s effort to rezone much of the city, neighborhood by neighborhood, in an attempt to maintain the housing character of low-rise blocks and to channel large development toward selected corridors. To date, 68 such city-led rezonings have occurred since 2002, with more in the pipeline.
Concern about the Jamaica plan, the largest number of blocks proposed for rezoning thus far under the Bloomberg administration, comes as the proposal enters the city’s public review process. Rezoning Jamaica, a large, diverse area about 10 miles from Manhattan, has long been a priority of the administration, as it aims to capitalize on its public transit infrastructure and to stimulate development in the regional hub.
“It’s a big rezoning and a big opportunity for the community and the city,” the director of the planning department, Amanda Burden, said in a telephone interview. “Jamaica is such a key business district,” with subway lines, the Long Island Rail Road, and an AirTrain terminal, Ms. Burden said.
The proposal allows for denser development in certain areas of the district, and it would restrict construction in many residential streets to match the character of the neighborhood.
Much of the criticism has focused on a long swath of Hillside Avenue, a street lined with low-rent retail shops and parking lots, where the city would allow 12-story residential buildings. Opponents say the area’s infrastructure will not permit for such a substantial increase in population.
Issues such as parking and crowded schools already are problems within the district, and they would be exacerbated by the new zoning, state Senator Frank Padavan, a Republican of Queens, said. “They should be looking for ways to decrease density,” he said of the area around Hillside Avenue. “There’s no more space.”
The concerns led to a unanimous vote by Community Board 8 to recommend against the rezoning earlier this month; neighboring Community Board 12, which runs south of Hillside Avenue, is planning a vote on the issue next month.
“This plan would be perfect in Manhattan, but Queens is an outer borough,” an area chairman of Community Board 8, Mark Lefkof, said of potential problems with the dense development.