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In 1970, private wetlands in northeast Queens were under a gray cloud. Udalls Cove wetlands were to be filled for the construction of a golf course between Douglaston and Great Neck. The ravine, partially owned by St. Anastasia Parish at the southern end and by private owners at the northern end, was under great pressure for development. In 1975 a major supermarket was planned for the St. Anastasia property directly across from the parish.
CB 11 held public hearings and, along with the community led by Aurora Gareiss, fought the battle at the city Planning Commission. Finally, the developer retreated and CB 11, with the support of our local legislators, convinced the city to buy the St. Anastasia property and add it to the upland portion of the ravine and Udalls Cove Wetlands Park.
In 1972, the efforts of Aurora Gareiss convinced Mayor John Lindsay that a golf course at Udalls Cove would be an environmental disaster and that the private lands of the cove must be saved from development.
Since 1975, the city's ongoing pledge to acquire all the lands of Udalls Cove and the upland area is being monitored and budgeted on a yearly basis by CB 11. At this time, through its yearly capital budget initiatives CB 11 has gotten the city to acquire almost 95 percent of all the lands connected with Udalls Cove. This has truly been a successful 30-year environmental project for CB 11.
In the Alley Park area of Northern Boulevard in Douglaston CB 11 has been responsible for orderly development and control of variances. In the past 30 years the car wash, Seville Dinner, and Tokyo Restaurant are the only new privately developed properties in the area. They are there by variances to the underlying zoning.
Other properties such as the Chevrolet dealer, gas stations and small auto-related shops are also there by old variances, some renewable, others are in perpetuity as long as the use is not changed.
However, it could have been much worse for the south side of Northern Boulevard. A five-story hotel, a major sport and tennis center, a major garden apartment complex and a multi-story apartment house were all planned over the past 30 years and all vociferously fought by CB 11 and the community at the Board of Standards and Appeals with success.
In the mid 1970s one of the early major variances CB 11 dealt with was an application to build two 11-story apartment buildings adjacent to the Douglaston Shopping Center and just below the Douglaston Golf Course cliffs. The 20 acres were zoned R4 and had not yet been developed. CB 11 held many public hearing, and the community was adamant not to have high-rise buildings. The builder withdrew and sold the land for R4 development
Unfortunately, the highly dense low-scale development with limited open space was built with buildings right into the mountain side of the Douglaston Golf Course causing disastrous earth slides which required stabilization of the 100-foot cliff at great expense. In retrospect, and in my opinion, two isolated high rise buildings at this location housing as many families as the present low-height development would have provided substantially more open space, enough parking, better traffic flow and less congestion in the area.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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