By Scott Sieber

After 20 years of fine-tuning, the City Council approved the rezoning of 40 blocks in Kissena Park with a unanimous vote on May 11.According to the rezoning plans, the detached, low-density character of Kissena Park's one- and two-family homes will be saved by keeping future developments in line with existing housing stock.”This is something we have needed for a long time,” said Joe Amoroso, longtime advocate of the plans and zoning chairman of the Kissena Park Civic Association. “It has been saddening to see some of our houses go down and be replaced by out-of-character construction. With these changes, our neighborhood will be saved.”Kissena Park had been zoned R3-2, which allowed for all types of housing structures. The new zoning designations are R2, allowing single-family detached homes with a 40-by-100 foot minimum lot size; R3-A, allowing for single- and two-family detached homes with a 25-by-100 foot minimum lot size; and R3-X: allowing for single- and two-family homes with a minimum lot width of 35 feet.Affected areas lie between 45th Avenue and Kissena Park, and Parsons Boulevard and Kissena Boulevard.Supporters call it a contextual zoning plan, meaning new developments are now required to keep the same context as their neighborhood developments. According to urban planner Paul Graziano, the previous zoning designation that allowed for any and all types of development was “the scourge of Queens' neighborhoods.”Scourge or not, even Graziano admitted that it was initiated for a reason. When the last major Queens rezoning was completed in the early 1960s, it predicted an additional 12 million people living in Queens by present day, he said. Today, Graziano said there are only about an additional 200,000 more people in the borough than there were 40 years ago.”They did (R3-2) because they were setting this area up to grow,” he said. “You can't expect things that were created under a different agenda to work to protect the existing fabric of a neighborhood and still allow for new development.”Residents and officials are now celebrating the new law. Amoroso also thanked City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), who supported the bill.”Stable residential neighborhoods, such as what we have in the area of Kissena Park, form the bedrock of our community and make New York City a desirable place to live,” Liu said. “Our intent is to protect this neighborhood from further changes that have had a destabilizing effect.”Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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