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Auburndale civic clamors for neighborhood rezoning

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More than 100 Auburndale residents and local civic leaders packed into the Reception House on Northern Boulevard Tuesday night to ask members of the Department of City Planning why Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign promise to rezone their neighborhood and other neighborhoods in Queens had not materialized.City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) had a quick answer. "Clearly the Department of City Planning and the mayor have failed you," he said. Deborah Carney, deputy director of the Queens office of City Planning, said this was not the case. "Queens City Planning has had a very aggressive work load," Carney said. "We are aware that things are not moving quick enough and we know that we have a long way to go, but we are working." She added: "We're not going full throttle on Auburndale. I'm not going to lie to you, but it is within sight."Carney said Queens City Planning is hoping to adopt a new approach to rezoning Auburndale because it is among the newest of the proposals. Carney said rather than complete a new study specifically on Auburndale, City Planning hopes to absorb portions of the neighborhood into other rezoning studies that are further along.Carney said specifically an area bound by 188th Street on the west, Francis Lewis Boulevard on the east, 48th Avenue on the north and the Long Island Expressway on the south may be included in the Oakland Gardens/Hollis Hills rezoning. Auburndale is one of three neighborhoods - North Flushing and Waldheim-Holly being the others - within Community Board 7 that have been waiting for a downzoning designed to protect the character of the area. Outside of CB 7, several other borough neighborhoods such as Oakland Gardens, Dutch Kills, Briarwood, the Rockaways, Laurelton and North Corona are also on the City Planning list for rezoning. "Our hands are full," Carney said. Urban Planner Paul Graziano said, however, that the reason for the stall in the downzonings has more to do with a change in Bloomberg's priorities, targeting larger, generally pro-development rezonings such as the Jamaica Plan and Willets Point. He emphasized the importance of electing someone to office who truly represents the priorities of a community."Make sure you get these things written in stone because these are promises that have not been kept," he said. Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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