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The Civic Scene: Auburndale civic meet turns testy at agencies

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The DCP has fine people. They rezoned the eastern part of Fresh Meadows from R2 to R2A with our help fairly quickly. So why have not a dozen or so communities been rezoned for the past three years? Debbie Carney and Brendon Pillar, who was hired to rezone this area, represented Queens Department of Buildings. They had their big map and wanted to explain about the rezoning, but the homeowners cut them short with shouts of "We heard all this at previous meetings! We want action! Fine houses are being torn down and big housing or multiple housing is replacing them! We have been waiting since 2005 We want a timetable for rezoning!"What was more dangerous to the administration and government officials' election plans is that people were starting to yell. "The city is taking its time so the mayor can fit one million more people in the city but more people added to an old infrastructure will just lead to disruptions such as flooding, sewer backups, and no place to park," said Rich O'Gorman (It was brought up that the mayor has his 2030 Plan to improve the quality of life to make way for the million extra people projected for 2030. The city is planting more trees yet when speculators tear down a house to build two or three houses or a three-story building they cut down many fine old trees which do so much to keep our air clean and shade us from the summer heat.This angry outburst reminded me of Mayor Lindsay's snowstorm. Remember when that big storm hit Queens and the city did not start plowing or salting immediately. The snow was several feet deep on Queens streets and highways. The borough stopped cold. The people never forgot and years later when Lindsay was running for president people paid for planes to fly big banners attacking him over the beaches of Miami, Fla. The snow birds remembered and Lindsay never won anything again.In Queens, and other boroughs, there are communities which want to be downzoned. There is a list. In addition, communities want the Department of Buildings to be more efficient and stop illegal construction. People don't want their quality of life destroyed. They bought homes as a place to raise children and grow old with friends and family. They don't want sewage backing up into their homes or noise or trash or lawns paved over due to overcrowding.At the Aubumdale Civic meeting Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) was greeted warmly as he spoke of his attempts to help the people. He is the ultimate populist who wants to help his communities. He is always proposing legislation which the people want. He calls press conferences and rallies and the people come because they are unhappy. State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) also spoke. He talked about self-certification, which permits builders and architects to certify their own plans as acceptable. He spoke about the dorms at St. John's and the fact that land set aside by the city for housing for the failed 2012 Olympics bid could be used for housing to prepare for 2030 instead of letting builders destroy fine one- and two-family communities to provide "unaffordable" housing.In answer to a question, Padavan said the mayor could issue an executive order and declare a moratorium on destruction of viable communities if they are on a list for future downzoning. The state Department of Education can take away a license of an architect who has been convicted of illegal certification. Some architects sell their stamps, which is why some of the big houses look alike. Why aren't guilty builders really punished as a warning to others?The North Flushing and Holly civics were at the meeting. They complained that they have been waiting for years to be downzoned while community facilities and builders slowly destroy their communities. Incidentally, a dozen years ago John Liu was president of North Flushing and was prompted to run for the City Council due to the problems he encountered. Avella got the Zoning committee position, while Liu obtained Transportation after they were elected.Urban planner Paul Graziano pointed out that Auburndale had asked to be rezoned in 2004, which was a long time ago. Many it's time to picket. GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Deborah Carney said she heard them loud and clear.BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The Buildings Department and now City Planning seem to both be dysfunctional or are they just following orders?

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