"The downzoning of these areas are great victories for my constituents," Weprin said, referring to the process of changing zoning to prevent overbuilding.Local civic groups and Community Board 13, which covers the affected areas, several years ago asked the Department of City Planning to draw up a proposal to protect the character of their neighborhoods and to ensure that any new construction matches existing housing stock in size and appearance. The department drafted a plan earlier this year to rezone 22 blocks in Bellerose between Creedmoor State Hospital and the Cross Island Parkway and 13 lots at Royal Ranch.The plan was then approved by the community board, Borough President Helen Marshall and then by the Council, all steps in the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure required by the city before any changes are final.The Bellerose blocks were previously zoned R3-2, which allows for structures such as row houses and apartment buildings. The rezoned area there is now divided into R2, which allows single-family detached homes, and R3A, which permits one- or two-family detached houses.In Royal Ranch, the 13 lots were originally going to be rezoned from R3-2 to the R2 zoning that applies to the rest of the development. But some of the homeowners complained about their future building rights being restricted during a community board meeting in April, and chairman Richard Hellenbrecht described the vote approving the change that night as "one of the most difficult things I think we've come across at the board."But in a subsequent compromise among the homeowners, the Royal Ranch Association and the community board, the zoning was changed to R3X instead. R3X allows for a single one- or two-family house on each lot.Now that the proposals have become law, the Department of City Planning will map the area and put the changes into its system, a spokeswoman said. Construction that was done legally before the zoning changes will be grandfathered in, according to city rules.Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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