Today’s news:

CB 11 says no to rezone plan

Community Board 11 voted down a proposal this week to rezone a portion of Bell Boulevard to allow Bayside’s Briarwood Organization to extend its operations, but the board approved its own suggestion for the site that would rezone part of the property.

CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said he believed, however, the Briarwood Organization, a development group at 36-35 Bell Blvd., would move forward with its original plan.

“I would assume that they are still going forward with their original application,” Iannece said. “I hope that City Planning will look at what we wanted to do and vote in our favor.”

The Briarwood Organization could not be reached for comment.

On Monday, the board voted 26-7 against the original proposal and 22-10 in favor of the second plan.

Under Briarwood’s plan, a C2-2 overlay, which allows for commercial property in a residential zone, would be created in an existing R4 residential zone, which permits all housing types, at the corner of Bell Boulevard and 36th Avenue. This would allow the developer 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, for $1.7 million and rezoning its property for commercial use.

The plan would make 36th to 38th Avenues along Bell Boulevard completely a commercial zone.

The board’s alternate plan that was approved would rezone the home on the property to C1-2, which allows for small stores or office buildings, but retain the church property as an R-4 residential zone.

Briarwood’s James Riso, also president of the Bayside Business Improvement District, said his company’s plan would benefit the community.

“Bell Boulevard is a commercial strip of Bayside and we want to build commercial buildings,” he said at the board’s meeting. “We want to bring in new businesses. You can see the ‘For Sale’ signs. Business is suffering.”

The company’s expansion to a second building would also provide space for a doctor’s office.

Board members said they were not opposed to the developer’s expansion and they hoped the church could benefit from the project. But they said they were concerned that proposed zoning in the current plan would allow for a variety of businesses, such as auto or gun repair, which would be out of character on the street.

“There’s nothing I want more than for this church to stay here,” said board member Paul DiBenedetto. “But they are asking for the entire property. They are good neighbors, but I don’t know what would be built there.”

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

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