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Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale rezone approved

After years of fighting and negotiating with the city, a major rezoning of Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village went into effect Tuesday, curtailing development in many areas of the neighborhoods.

The City Council unanimously approved the rezoning July 29, completing what City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) called a “painstaking process” that started in 2006 after the first rezoning of the area was completed. Civic leaders helped build momentum for the rezoning by conducting a survey of the area’s housing stock in 2004.

Crowley, who was elected in November, said she spent the last two months of 2008 meeting with residents and the city to speed the process along.

“A lot of times these overdeveloped projects have really hurt the property values on a block,” she said, noting a few multi-family homes are still under development in the area. “The economy has slowed a little, but if you look around, you’ll see.”

The rezoning affects 300 blocks of Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale and converts most of the designated areas of these neighborhoods 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.

It was approved unanimously by Community Board 5 in May and passed through the borough president’s office and the city Planning Commission.

“This is a big day,” Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said during a news conference on a townhouse-lined block of 83rd Street. “Before this, more of these would be two-family homes, and those on bigger lots would become five two-family houses.”

Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, also hailed the passing of the rezoning, but cast a skeptical light on the immediate impact of the new law.

“The biggest battle is still ahead,” he said. “Getting the Department of Buildings to know the area is downzoned.”

Holden said he had seen instances of DOB staff approving high-density development projects after a rezoning has gone into effect because they had not communicated with the city Planning Department which handles all zoning issues.

Neighborhood leaders were also upset that the city did not rezone a number of rowhouses in the Middle Village area. Crowley said including the homes would require the development of a new zoning designation, which would have substantially delayed the approval process.

“It’s a big concession game with City Planning,” said Walter Sanchez, chairman CB 5’s Land Use Committee. “They gave us enough.”

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

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