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Board 6 approves rezoning for Forest Hills, Rego Park

Community Board 6 has voted unanimously to support several proposals by the Department of City Planning to rezone parts of Forest Hills and Rego Park to ban the construction of new buildings that would be out of character with existing facilities.

The City Planning proposals stem from a 2000-2001 study called for by several Forest Hills and Rego Park civic associations to examine zoning regulations in their neighborhoods. Those groups are worried that without new zoning regulations, new developments will not be compatible with the surrounding buildings.

“These blocks have a predominant character to them and there should not be alterations that disrupt the harmony of these row houses,” said John Young, director of the Queens office of City Planning, referring to the 61 streets the agency wants rezoned. “There really is a solid character” on those blocks, he said.

The June 12 community board vote will be forwarded as a recommendation to the borough president, planning commission, and the City Council, which will all study the proposals. The Council will have final say on the new zoning regulations.

The rezoning push started when the Forest Hills Community and Civic Association, the Van-Court Association, and the Booth Street Association expressed concern that under the current zoning regulations new construction might break with the neighborhood mold of one and two-story residences and businesses on many Forest Hills blocks.

“They were anxious to change the zoning to reflect what is physically present in the neighborhood now,” said Virginia Wilson, assistant district manager of Community Board 6. “They wanted to retain the character of the neighborhood.”

Rego Park residents joined the battle when a home at 99-24 67th Ave. was turned into a three-story apartment building. The building looks out of place on a block made up of mostly attached one- and two-story homes, said Kathleen Reilly, district manager of Community Board 6.

“The 67th Avenue house kind of spurred people on. You have an area that is all one or two story housing and all of a sudden you have tall building,” said Reilly. If City Planning’s proposals become law, “everything will have one character.”

Under the current zoning regulations, putting up an apartment building like the one on 67th Ave. is legal in most neighborhoods in Forest Hills and Rego Park. The neighborhood surrounding 67th Ave., for example, is designated R7-1, meaning large apartment buildings are allowed.

Many Forest Hills resident did not want to see a building like the one on 67th Ave. go up in one of their residential neighborhoods either.

Most of the 61 blocks named in the proposal lie in Forest Hills and are bordered by Burns Street to the north, Metropolitan Avenue in the south, Ascan Avenue in the east, and Yellowstone Boulevard in the west.

The Rego Park blocks are surrounded by Queens Boulevard, Austin Street, 68th Avenue, and 63rd Drive.

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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