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CB 5 approves rezone plan

Applause and congratulations took the place of anger and heated debate at Community Board 5 last week as members approved the city’s plan to rezone major portions of the district.

The board voted unanimously to approve the rezoning, which affects 300 blocks of Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale. The rezone converts most of the affected areas to contextual residential zones, forcing developers to build new homes resembling others on the block and preventing the multi−story apartment buildings many residents complained were destroying the makeup of the neighborhoods.

The rezoning plan will go first to Borough President Helen Marshall and then to the city Planning Commission for approval before it arrives at the City Council for final approval.

“It’s long overdue,” said City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D−Middle Village), noting the rezone plan should reach the Council by the beginning of the summer. “It will be my job to convince my colleagues to vote for it, and I believe they will.”

The vote, which came after minimal discussion on the subject, was a change of pace from previous meetings this year, which were occupied with debates over the plan for a new high school in Maspeth and a movement to build a permanent dog run at Juniper Valley Park.

Zoning Committee Chairman Walter Sanchez called the vote “a little anti−climactic,” given the near−unanimous support among the public for the rezoning.

“It’s just been a terrific ride and it’s very thrilling to get it done,” he said.

CB 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri expressed his gratitude to the Planning Commission and its liaison to CB 5, Tom Smith, who presented the preliminary plan to the board in February.

“Tom, since my son is out in West Hollywood and you did such a great job, you are now my temporary son,” he joked.

But Sanchez did complain that certain residential areas of Glendale were zoned for R5D instead of R5B, allowing new buildings to cover as much as 80 percent of a lot instead of 55 percent.

“But there’s a give−and−take, a compromise with all of this,” he said.

This rezone plan is a follow−up to the first phase of rezoning, which covered parts of Maspeth and Middle Village and went into effect in 2006 at the request of CB 5, civic groups and residents of the area. The wheels were set in motion by a door−to−door housing survey conducted by the Juniper Park Civic Association in 2005.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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