The City Council members who represent communities that would be affected under a proposed rezoning of 400 square blocks of Auburndale, Oakland Gardens and Hollis Hills took neighbors’ concerns about an Auburndale manufacturing district to the city last week.
Councilmen Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), Peter Koo (R-Flushing) and Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) met with representatives of the Department of City Planning last Thursday to discuss the future of a manufacturing district at the intersection of 172nd Street and Station Road, which is within the bounds of the rezoning plan.
Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) also attended because of his role as the chairman of the Council Land Use Committee.
Members of the Station Road Civic Association vehemently oppose the proposal if it is not amended to downzone the location to residential or otherwise address the issue. The section, where automotive repair businesses, including Star Nissan Toyota and North Flushing Auto Care, currently exist as close as 30 feet from residential areas, has drawn the ire of neighbors who complain about noise, pollution and other hazards.
The community now awaits a letter from the department outlining what options it sees for the site following the meeting with the councilmen at 250 Broadway in Manhattan.
The situation before last week’s meeting, according to City Planning representatives who attended a raucous Station Road Civic meeting on the topic last week, was that it would be difficult or impossible to find a way to downzone the manufacturing district because of issues of policy and respect for existing businesses.
So Halloran sent a letter to City Planning on behalf of himself and the other affected Council members, asking the department to undertake an environmental impact study of the site, believed to have been heavily polluted under a previous owner. That would begin the process of determining what the options for the land include, while he is also concerned about whether a downzoning is even permissible.
“Someone bought that property and it was zoned manufacturing, so if the city then arbitrarily changes that to residential, that person has a right to sue the city because it affects the value of the property,” he said. “We don’t know if it is even conceivable to [change the zoning to residential], and if it is, if a residential developer comes in, they would have to do any environmental cleanup.”
One thing Halloran said he would like to see happen, which has not occurred thus far, is greater enforcement of numerous violations issued to Star Nissan for noise, occupancy and other offenses.
City Planning seems optimistic about possible outcomes.
“We had a productive meeting and are hoping to hear from the Council members about how best to move forward together,” said Jovan Rizzo, a spokesman for the department.
Koo spokesman James McClelland said he believes the proposal that will eventually emerge from last week’s meeting will be “amenable” to all parties.
“There was a dialogue between the elected representatives and City Planning trying to alleviate the concerns of some of the residents, and the councilmen made those concerns clear to City Planning and Land Use and hopefully something can be done to assuage the fears and concerns the residents have,” McClelland said.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2010 Community News Group
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