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CB 13 votes to tighten Cambria Heights zoning rules

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Liz Errico from the Department of City Planning told area residents at the monthly meeting the goal of the downzoning is to "preserve the one- and two-family character that marks" Cambria Heights and prevent out-of-scale development such as McMansions in the future. Board Chairman Richard Hellenbrecht said the zoning area's boundaries are Murdock Avenue in the north; the Cross Island Expressway in the east; 121st Avenue and the Montefiore Cemetery in the east; and Springfield and Francis Lewis boulevards in the west. Errico went on to say that 70 percent of the community currently falls under the R2 zoning category, a designation for detached, single-family homes. City Planning is suggesting that most of these buildings be changed to R2A, which would lower the maximum height for the front wall of a house by four feet, from 25 to 21 feet. However, houses would be able to slope back up to 35 feet. "R2A is appropriate for neighborhoods that are similar from block to block," Errico said, adding that Cambria Heights fits into that category, where current zoning regulations for the area have been in place since 1961.Changes were also made to commercial overlays along Linden Boulevard, where the mapped depth was shrunk from 150 to 100 feet. Parking requirements were also reduced so zoning would reflect what is there, Errico said. The effort to rezone the area was spearheaded by the Cambria Heights Civic Association in September. Association President Kevin Jemmott, said it was around that time that he realized overdevelopment was taking place in nearby Laurelton, Springfield Gardens and Queens Village."I did not want to see this in Cambria Heights," Jemmott said at the meeting.He mentioned that a one-family house was converted into a two-family building on 219th Street and 114th Avenue recently and two-family homes were changed to three- and four-family buildings on Springfield and Francis Lewis boulevards. Jemmot met with state Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village), City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), Errico and Hellenbrecht about the issue. In November, he said 700 Cambria Heights residents urged Mayor Bloomberg to speed up the zoning process.Hellenbrecht said the proposed changes should not pose a problem to homeowners, adding that "a very high degree" of residents are already in compliance with the proposal. Borough President Helen Marshall will hold a public hearing Thursday on the issue. The plans should be adopted by the end of June, Errico said.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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