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City Council approves Queensboro Hill rezone

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The Land Use Committee, chaired by Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills), approved the plan by a vote of 17-0 after hearing several residents, including Community Board 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty, speak against changes proposed by City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) in recent weeks. The rezoning plan has been a major point of contention for many Queensboro residents, who have seen the plan change twice in the last month since it was originally approved by CB 7 and Borough President Helen Marshall last year. While Liu says the proposed changes to the plan will protect the residential integrity of the neighborhood from future development, several residents argue that the plan is too restrictive should they want to expand their homes. "He's [Liu] doing this purposefully to wear us out," said Queensboro Hill resident Constantine Kovadas. "We got him elected. Now he's doing this and twisting the knife in the back of the families."Liu acknowledged the plan will not make everyone happy, but stood firm that it was the correct choice. "I respect the people who do not agree with this plan and thank them for participating in the process and effectuating changes in the original plan," Liu said. "The plan is not simply a compromise; it is the correct approach and five to 10 years down the road that will become more apparent." The area up for rezoning includes 105 blocks generally bounded by Kissena Park and Kissena Corridor Park to the north, St. Mary's Cemetery to the east, the Long Island Expressway, Queens College and Mount Hebron Cemetery to the south, and College Point Boulevard to the west.Most of the neighborhood exists within a general residence zoning district that permits all building types, including row homes, detached and multi-family buildings.The original plan cut Queensboro Hill into eight different zones, with several of the residential blocks included in the proposal targeted for large down-zoning that would restrict further development. This plan had both the support of CB 7 and Marshall's office, but was fiercely opposed by several residents. Last month City Planning, spurred by a heavy outcry from local residents, proposed changing five pockets within the plan's area to a zoning type which would allow residents to more easily expand their homes or convert them to two-family dwellings. Liu said his compromise on the five pockets of the plan City Planning proposed to be changed will more closely resemble the original plan, while still keeping the recommendations of the commission in mind. Kovadas, however, said Liu is not acting in the best interest of his constituents."He has his own personal agenda," Kovadas said. "Our equity means everything to us. Now all of sudden they want to take this away from us." The City Council is expected to take a final vote on the plan on Feb. 28. Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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