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East Flushing homeowners oppose neighborhood rezone

Like most other areas throughout the borough, plans for East Flushing propose a massive overhaul of the 60-year-old existing zoning laws to ensure future developments keep the existing character of the neighborhood.Unlike most other areas receiving the rezoning proposals, however, residents spoke out against the plans, claiming an unfair distribution of downzoning, which would place tighter restrictions on future development dimensions, and upzoning, which would allow for larger scale buildings.The neighborhood in question lies in a jagged area between Northern Boulevard and Laburnum Avenue in the south, and 165th Street in the east and 149th Place in the west.Neighborhoods are varied in the area, splotched with apartment buildings several stories high on the street corners along Sanford Avenue and with single- and multi-family homes on the intersecting streets.Plans originally called for an upzoning around the major streets in the area, including Northern Boulevard and Sanford Avenue, while downzoning the intersecting streets.Residents rallied behind James Trikas, occupant of one of the only single-family homes on 157th Street, who started a petition to stop his section of the diverse zoning map from being downzoned from an all-inclusive R4 zoning to a more restrictive R4A, which would require detached dwellings, meaning additions would need to be detached from the main dwelling.With his home already surrounded by multi-family dwellings, Trikas said the plans make little sense."It's not fair," he said. "We're not a single-family home community like those homes north of Northern Boulevard. We are a multi-family home community."Across the street from Trinkas is a seven-family home. At the end of his block at Sanford Avenue, an apartment building towers above the few single-family homes on the street."If this was a single-family home styled community, than a downzone would be okay, but it's not," agreed Michael Huang, whose home on 159th Street lies on the opposite end of the spectrum in an area that is also slated to be downzoned in a manner similar to Trikas'.Trikas' petition worked, and City Planning Director John Young said his street and three other blocks that were slated for a downzone will be left alone at R4. Huang's street, however, will still be downzoned. He said he was hoping to sell his house but has heard his property values will go down should the plans pass."It'd rather have this the same (R4)," he said. "It's more veritable for a developer. We need it the same so developers will come."Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 139.

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