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Little Neck rezoning up next as builders race clock: Avella

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With their usual arsenal of neighborhood zoning charts in tow, City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Department of City Planning Director John Young attended a joint meeting of the Douglaston and Little Neck Pines Civic Associations Tuesday to illustrate to the gathering of some 150 residents how rezoning from R-2 to R2-A would affect the community."I've been looking, neighborhood by neighborhood, to see where we can change the zoning to accurately reflect the existing housing stock and reflect the quality of life," said Avella. "Basically R2-A eliminates all the loopholes in the building and zoning code that allows the McMansions to be built."Under the current zoning regulations, and depending on setback dimensions, single-family houses can be built on a lot without any height or lot coverage restrictions. The loophole allows for developers to demolish such homes and build the so-called McMansions, the large houses that many residents attending the meeting say are overtaking their neighborhoods.The loophole also allows "for developers to buy a one-family house, knock it down, and put up two," Avella said, citing instances in which developers have even gone so far as to put up four houses on larger single-family lots.The City Council recently approved R2-A rezoning in Bayside and Kissena Park, and efforts to downzone College Point and Whitestone are currently underway with expectations of a fall completion. Once the larger areas are out of the way, Douglaston and Little Neck will be next, followed by Auburndale, he said.The move to cover Douglaston and Little Neck comes at a critical juncture in the rezoning sweep, said Avella, because developers are catching wind of the plans and many are trying to beat the zoning to the punch by quickly building large homes before it becomes law."The day after the Bayside zoning was approved, someone was demolishing their building and pouring the foundation the same day," Avella said. "If we don't preserve the very reason we all live here, it is gone, and once it's gone, it is gone forever."Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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