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Planned Auburndale rezoning must benefit residents

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The plans look promising, but there are still major issues that need to be addressed from my point of view as vice president of the Auburndale Improvement Association, one of the oldest civic organizations in the city.

There is an area in the Station Road neighborhood currently designated as a manufacturing zone. The auto service dealerships that have been operating there for an extended period of time have not been good neighbors to the surrounding residents. My colleagues at the Station Road Civic Association and other community leaders would like to see this manufacturing zone replaced with a residential designation. That would mean that as these businesses leave or go out of business, they could be replaced by new, single- and two-family homes that should match the residential character of the community.

A manufacturing zone does not belong in a residential area like the Station Road community. Other, even more undesirable businesses could locate there, creating more problems for the area. It needs to be changed.

Another issue that has been raised by civic associations for decades is the concern that single-family, attached homes do not have an appropriate zoning designation among all the designations in the DCP arsenal of zones. In Auburndale, as in many areas of Queens, there are many blocks of beautiful, attached, single-family residences that merit their own special, protective designation.

Designations the DCP currently uses for these areas, like R3-2 and R4, do not fit the characteristics of those areas. Those designations apply to many types of housing, including multi-family ones, and encourage higher-density development. Many civic leaders across the borough have been urging a new “rowhouse” designation for years, but none has been forthcoming. Isn’t it time a designation is developed and adopted for this type of residential use?

A third concern with the preliminary rezoning plan is that certain recommendations made by the DCP could be improved upon to ensure discrete areas are correctly zoned, based on the preponderance of housing stock in those areas. The AIA and other civic groups will insist all areas be zoned to ensure neighborhoods receive as much protection as possible to preserve integrity and stability.

A final concern is commercial overlays along major thoroughfares like Northern Boulevard. Approximately one mile of Northern Boulevard in the Auburndale and Station Road areas have no commercial overlays. We would like to keep it that way. Civic groups and others believe it would be in the best interests of the community to leave alone the variances that currently control the businesses in those areas. This would afford more community input into how these businesses would be allowed to operate as these variances come up for renewal. Additionally, protective covenants that affect parts of the area prohibit commercial overlays.

The AIA and neighboring civic and community groups will continue to fight to ensure the proposed rezoning of Auburndale and the other communities involved in the plan, including Station Road, Kissena Park, Oakland Gardens and Hollis Hills, are rezoned fairly and correctly based on each individual neighborhood. We want this plan enacted as soon as possible in order to curb inappropriate development and overdevelopment in our communities.

Henry Euler

First Vice President

Auburndale Improvement Association

Bayside

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