City plans to change law on streetscaping

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Community Board 10 was updated last week on the Department of City Planning’s Residential Streetscape Preservation text amendment that proposes new rules on curb cuts and front yard planting requirements for new housing.

Tom Smith of the DCP said the text amendment has six goals, including strengthening regulations on how much space must be designated for planting in front yards in R1 through R5 districts, applying stricter rules for curb cuts and front yard parking in R3, R4 and R5 single- and two-family districts and ensuring adequate parking for new dwelling units.

Under existing rules, narrow planting strips can count toward the minimum planting requirements for R1 through R5 districts, including strips on either side of a driveway.

R1 through R5 are types of zoning, with R5 allowing for larger buildings than an R1 zone.

Smith said such plantings are problematic.

“It doesn’t really alleviate the problem of stormwater runoff,” he said.

Under City Planning’s proposed rules, planting strips must be at least 1 foot wide. Planting areas on the sides of driveways will still be allowed, but they cannot be used to fulfill front yard planting requirements, Smith said.

City Planning sent out information about the text amendment to Queens community boards, the borough board and Borough President Helen Marshall Nov. 16. A public comment period runs until Jan. 25, after which time City Planning will hold a public hearing on the text amendment. The rules need to be approved by the City Council.

The board also heard from state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and a representative for state Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach) about Gov. David Paterson’s promise to select a winning bidder to operate video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Race Track.

Addabbo said the process has been so delayed that he does not care who the governor picks, as long as he picks a bidder.

He said a staffer for Paterson called him about two weeks ago.

“I said to the gentlemen, pick somebody,” Addabbo said, noting the governor said one week ago that he would pick a bidder within the week. But that, like other deadlines, have come and gone.

Addabbo said “whoever will be chosen will be good for our area,” noting the community could use jobs associated with redeveloping Aqueduct.

Larry Love, an aide to Pheffer, said she had a similar conversation with the governor, but was pickier than Addabbo.

“She did tell them there were certain groups she preferred over others, but also the same thing: pick somebody.”

CB 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton said the process was “kind of ridiculous at this point.”

“Don’t everybody hold your breath waiting for [Friday’s] papers, because I don’t think [Aqueduct is] going to be in there.”

She was right.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

Updated 5:42 pm, October 10, 2011
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