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Zoning regulations in Jamaica need overhauling and the city Department of Planning is ready to take it on.
The department introduced a preliminary proposal to update and refine zoning regulations in a 415-block area at Tuesdays meeting of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporations downtown committee.
The proposal is based on a two-year study of the area, including Jamaica, South Jamaica, Hollis and St. Albans, said Deborah Carney, deputy director of the Queens planning office. The study discovered most of the zoning laws are antiquated and inadequate, she said.
The zoning in place here is 40 years old, said John Young, director of the Queens planning office. The opportunity is ripe. Now is the time to figure out what the future holds.
Planning Department officials, anxious to spur economic growth, hope to use as a springboard recent developments such as the AirTrain light rail system linking downtown Jamaica to Kennedy Airport, the Jamaica Multiplex, the Jamaica Center and the new Family and Civil courts by updating zoning rules, Young said.
Our purpose in this proposal is to encourage compatible land uses, Carney said. The zoning does not allow or accommodate the development or the growth we see in the area.
The proposal, still in its early stages, has several components necessary to refine the mismatched zoning, Carney said.
Goals include providing direction and incentives for commercial and industrial growth in underused areas, especially in South Jamaica; directing new commercial development along roadways that can support traffic that would be generated, such as Hillside Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard; and establishing a special downtown development district to promote growth.
The hope is to retrigger interest from private developers, Carney said. The challenge has always been over the past three decades to narrow the gap between public and private investment.
The proposal also seeks to reinforce zoning regulations limiting two-family homes in places zoned for apartments, Carney said.
We want to develop a strategy to strengthen the commercial and industrial areas in Jamaica (while) all the time preserving the adjacent residential areas, she said.
Before submitting its final proposal, Young said, the Planning Department will solicit community support and conduct an environmental impact study and a public review.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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