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City seeks rezone in Maspeth, Woodside

City planners are developing the Maspeth/Woodside Zoning Study in a response to the enormous growth that has affected the area, Community Board 2 Chairman Joseph Conley said.Other neighborhoods in Queens, such as Bayside, Hollis and Long Island City, have implemented tighter zoning or begun the process in a response to the national housing boom.Queens Borough associate urban planner Neil Gagliardi presented the proposal to rezone 107 blocks within a 194-block study area during a meeting arranged by CB 2 at Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians School, 70-20 47th Ave., in Woodside.Winfield Gardens resident Carol Terrano, who attended the meeting, said the area was lacking infrastructure and could not sustain more development. "The fact is we are packed in here so densely. And you propose more apartment buildings?" she said. "The damage has been done, [city officials] have been playing around for three years." Gagliardi defended the proposal, saying it was a plan to direct the population growth to high-density corridors and discourage it from smaller, residential streets."Obviously there is a housing need, and part of the proposal is to take a look at underutilized lots on Queens Boulevard," he said. "The rationale is to provide a balanced plan and reduce the development on more narrow blocks." Conley said he was frustrated by the overdevelopment, saying the zoning proposal was his "top priority."In an interview Monday he said he was looking for support from City Councilmen Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) and Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) on the rezoning plan."We hope that between the two councilmen they will stand up and get this proposal completed," he said.The proposal suggests converting about three-quarters of the area currently zoned R4, which permits dense, multi-family residences, into the more restrictive districts R4B or R4-1. The R4B district, such as proposed for Winfield Gardens, is designed for smaller row houses, where curb cuts and parking on the front yard is prohibited.The R4-1 district, such as proposed for the center and south blocks within the study area, is designed for detached or semi-detached houses that must line up with adjacent homes. These restrictions would prevent larger structures often criticized for being "out of character."Gagliardi said that the proposal is currently under environmental review during which city planning analyzes the impact of the proposal on factors such as traffic, air quality, schools and open space in the neighborhood. Greater permitted density on Queens Boulevard in exchange for lower density in residential areas did not satisfy some attendees, such as Maspeth resident Mike Fordunski. "If every lot on Queens Boulevard is built on, how many 10-story buildings can be built?" he asked.Gagliardi responded by saying that city planners predict that about 300 units would be built if the plan is adopted.Following the environmental review, he said the plan will likely be certified later this fall. Once a proposal has been certified, a formal set of public hearings begins before CB 2, the Queens borough president, the City Council land use committee, the City Planning Commission, and finally the City Council. City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) arrived after the conclusion of the presentation and was met by residents critical of over-development in the area. On Tuesday a spokesman said Gioia could not comment on the specifics of the proposal, but the councilman agreed over-development was a problem."It is imperative that the city act to curb this overdevelopment in Woodside and Maspeth, and preserve the quality of life for all people in our community as it completes the rezoning plan," Gioia said in a statement.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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