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The Civic Scene: Civic newsletters report on community facilities

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The April 2003 newsletter of the Douglaston Civic Association gave an update on the proposed changes in the community facilities rules. The civics stated that the City Planning Commission has been working on these changes.

They are trying to get wording acceptable to all parties, including the City Council, homeowners, religious groups and medical organizations. The newsletter states that the proposed changes would be ready by May 2, but they aren’t.

The May 2003 newsletter of the Rosedale Civic Association printed a full page with the headline “Noise Pollution is Against the Law.” These civics write that noise pollution can come from loud parties, loud radios, loud car radios and any kind of loud noises. Noise lowers the quality of life in a neighborhood, during the day or night.

They also write that a noise violation summons can amount to $500 or more. They pressure the police to confiscate any commercial sound equipment. We can now call the quality-of-life number, the Citizens Service Center, at 311. One also can call the 107th Precinct desk at 718-969-5100. For long-term problems, the Community Affairs officers at the 107th Precinct can be reached at 718-969-5973. Of course, still call 911 for an emergency.

The March 2003 Jamaica Estates Bulletin reported about two new anti-graffiti laws passed by the city. One toughens the penalties for repeat graffiti offenders, while the other makes it more difficult to buy acid etching cream. I didn’t even know there was a cream that could etch designs on glass, mirrors and glassware.

It is now illegal for minors to buy acid etching cream. Graffiti fines for repeat offenders can be as high as $1,000 for each charge. The newsletter also states, “Nothing makes a good neighborhood look bad like graffiti.” Some people I know go out and cover graffiti with spray cans or wipe it away with graffiti remover. It can be done while one takes a walk.

The May 2003 Briarwood Civic Association newsletter reports that two blocks in that area along Hillside Avenue near the Van Wyck Expressway service road are zoned C8-1 (Service District-Auto Related) which means that a gas station, auto shops and repair shops are there.

The problem is that around these businesses are a number of houses that are increasingly isolated and under pressure of being bought and turned into commercial establishments. Discussions with City Planning have produced a compromise where the areas would be downzoned to R4-3 for one- and two-family homes. There will be an environmental impact study, which could take a year or so. The current businesses would be “grandfathered in.”

The Briarwood Civic also informs members that it is illegal to post notices of any kind on trees, city poles, bus stops and public property. These notices are demeaning, an eyesore and unattractive. They didn’t mention that there can be a $10 fine for each sign. Tear down these signs and notices!

The May 2003 newsletter of the Kew Gardens Hills Homeowners Civic Association reported that Asian longhorned beetles have been found in trees near Melbourne Avenue. Trees most commonly attacked are maples, poplars, ashes and other hardwood trees.

The civic also informed its members that they can call 311 to complain about any quality-of-life issue. The civic is trying to identify any likely spots for bicycle racks since bicycles cut down on vehicular traffic, which helps to keep the air clean.

Good and Bad News of the Week

It is good that we can lease cars instead of having to buy them, but old laws that place the liability for an accident involving a car put the blame on the owner or leasing company but not the driver. Auto leasing companies are threatening to stop leasing vehicles in New York state unless the law is changed. Only eight states have such laws.

After Sept. 11, New York City was promised more than $20 billion in economic aid but only received a fraction of that money. This is bad considering that New York City has been an economic engine for the nation, and its residents have given far more money to the federal government than they have received from it over the years.

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group