Today’s news:

CB 11 set to vote on Bell Blvd. rezone plan

Community Board 11 will vote next week on whether to approve a proposal by Bayside’s Briarwood Organization to rezone a portion of Bell Boulevard that would allow for the conversion of an existing home on the street into office space.

Seven members of the board’s zoning committee voted against the proposal in a meeting last week, while another five abstained, CB 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld said. The entire board will vote on the proposal at its June 15 meeting.

The Briarwood Organization, a development group at 36−35 Bell Blvd., has proposed creating a C2−2 zone, which is a commercial overlay in a residential district, in the existing R4 zone, which is a residential district that allows all housing types, at the corner of Bell Boulevard and 36th Avenue. This would enable the group to purchase a house next door to its site, where they could expand their operations. The proposal would also involve purchasing Redeemer Lutheran Church, which owns the home, and rezoning its property for commercial use.

But Briarwood’s James Riso, who is also president of the Bayside Business Improvement District, said the church would continue to act as a house of worship. Approval of the proposal would make 36th to 38th avenues along Bell Boulevard a completely commercial zone, Seinfeld said.

“They went for the whole block because all of Bell Boulevard is commercial,” she said. “The church property would become more valuable if it’s in a commercial zone.”

Redeemer Lutheran Church could not be reached for comment.

She said the board would likely be more amenable to the proposal if it merely called for rezoning the house’s property, but not the church.

Riso said he did not want to make any further comment on the proposal until it had gone before CB 11.

Board member Frank Skala, who is also president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, said he was concerned because C2−2 zoning allows for a variety of businesses, such as taxidermy and auto or gun repair.

“There are a dozen potential uses and they are all obnoxious,” he said. “Bell Boulevard is a light commercial zone. We don’t want more density and big buildings because the parking is already difficult now.”

CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said the plan had already been certified by the Department of City Planning. The board would likely give the plan more consideration if Briarwood asks for less in its proposal, he said.

“I think the objection is more to the amount of rezoning,” he said. “The proposal is quiet large and the zoning committee thought it was too much.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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