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Jamaica rezone plan unveiled

The proposal calls for 368 blocks of Jamaica to be rezoned. The area is roughly bounded by Hillside Avenue in the north, 110th Avenue to the south, the Van Wyck Expressway to the west and 191st Street to the east.The city says the proposal will protect smaller residential streets through down zoning, while stimulating commercial and residential growth in downtown Jamaica and along Hillside Avenue.The plan, however, is not without its critics, particularly Councilmen David Weprin (D-Hollis) and James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), who have both expressed concerns about calls in the plan to allow seven- to 12-story buildings to be built on Hillside Avenue.In a prepared statement, Amanda Burden, City Planning's director, said the rezoning initiative would create nearly 3 million square feet of office space, 9,300 jobs and 3,400 new units of housing over the next 10 years.The plan also calls for an area around the AirTrain to be rezoned to allow seven- to 12-story buildings and a mix of commercial and residential uses. Much of the area is currently zoned for manufacturing.But this growth has led members of Community Board 12, which covers Jamaica, to question whether the city has planned the infrastructure upgrades - namely improvement to the area's mass transportation and schools - to accommodate the growth the rezoning could bring to the area.Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, welcomed the news that the Department of City Planning had certified the plan."We've waited for this day for a long time," Towery said.But Gloria Black, the chairwoman of CB 12, said she had hoped the certification would be delayed at least two weeks to allow for the massive plan to be studied further. The request was not accommodated."They don't work like that, they have timetables and they move forward," Black said of the Planning Department.The plan also includes a proposal to create an "urban renewal area" on three blocks near the AirTrain station. In this area, the city could use eminent domain to acquire buildings for development. CB 12 now has 60 days to issue a recommendation on the plan, meaning the board will meet twice - on Feb. 21 and March 21 - before the plan moves to Borough President Helen Marshal's office.A meeting on the rezoning proposal has also been scheduled for Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. at Amity Baptist Church, 164-18 108th Ave. A draft environmental impact study on the plan is available on the city's Web site at reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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