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The Civic Scene: Jamaica Estates fights changes in R1 zoning

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At a recent meeting with representatives of the Department of City Planning, many residents of the Jamaica Estates Association opposed the plan to re-zone Jamaica. The full plan will upzone many areas of Jamaica and lead to a real economic boom. The real opposition is to changing the zoning along Hillside Avenue from Queens Boulevard east to 191' Street, especially in the area near the 179th Street station. There is concern that 12-story buildings will be permitted if the builders set aside 20 percent of the buildings for affordable housing for people with incomes below $56,000 for a family of four. All this will mean more people and congestion.Builders are salivating. Already I have seen a block of boarded-up, two-story buildings just two blocks west of Midland Parkway at Edgerton Boulevard at the western edge of the 179th Street subway station. The current zoning does permit more dense construction here.There are currently apartment houses north of Hillside Avenue and on Midland Parkway. At Wexford Terrace, one block north of the 179th Street train station on Midland Parkway, at least one old stately house was torn down and there are now attached row houses with no grass lawns. Cars are parked on the cement areas in front of the houses, not even on bricks, with garbage cans and recycling cans left in front of the houses because there is no place to put them. What is being done about this zoning problem?Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that by 2030 there will be 1 million more people in New York City. He has a "PLANYC" to plan for the future in 2030. If this upzoning along Hillside Avenue is part of his plan, then I worry about our future quality of life since Queens is really a bucolic suburban-like part of the city which doesn't need all this increased density.The problem is that when larger houses are built or houses are sold for higher prices, the selling price is recorded and sent up to the computers at the New York State Board of Equalization and Assessment. They calculate the new value of the community so the taxes can automatically be raised by the local government. This is one reason why I don't like those multimillion dollar McMansions built near my house.In Laurelton, the Concerned Citizens of Laurelton want to re-zone the community to keep McMansions from being built and one-family houses being made into two- or three-family houses. They are annoyed at the slow pace of the creation of the new R2A zone. At first, a year ago, not everyone was in favor of the rezoning but now everyone seems to want it. It goes to show!GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Our human society has developed many ways to create energy which give us a higher quality of life. Edna and I often listen to WQXR when we retire for the night. On a recent Sunday morning, we awoke to a broadcast from the Community Unitarian Church of New York. The message was about global warming. The speaker warned that if we don't solve our dependence on fossil fuel and the rise in temperature on earth, the polar ice caps will melt and the oceans will rise cause flooding of many low lying areas, including parts of Queens.I was surprised that a minister brought up the topic. He complained that all scientific journals agreed that there is global warming. Many industries don't want to spend the money to cut down on fossil fuel emissions so they have lobbied our federal government to oppose stricter emission controls. However, the DuPont Company was mentioned as one company which actually saved millions of dollars by practicing conservation and going green.New York state and several surrounding states have sued to get the federal Environmental Protection Agency to enforce conservation and stop the greenhouse effect. California has laws. New York City wants to increase recycling. Only the leadership of our country considers global warming a theory and not a scientific fact. It is sad that our government does not do more to encourage new sources of clean energy. The speaker said that we only have 10 years before global warming will be irreversible. Something to think about!

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