By Scott Sieber

Despite some protests, the rezoning plans were passed in a 36-to-1 vote.City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) joined City Planning Director John Young in yet another trip around the borough to inform residents of a plan they say will keep future developments in context with the surrounding neighborhoods. Generally, supporters say they want to downzone residential neighborhoods to curb overdevelopment by placing restrictions on future building dimensions for minimum lot width and lot areas to coincide with existing housing.”College Point has probably been the worst example of overdevelopment in this borough,” said Avella, who pointed out that the existing 1960s zoning law is outdated and susceptible to loose interpretation. The community board approval is one step in the process before the final plans reach the City Council for approval, he said, Changes can still be made, however.”It's important to remember that this plan is still a proposal, but it's going to save this neighborhood's quality of life,” the councilman said.Some residents who live on larger lots, however, had a different opinion, claiming the plans they had laid out years ago to expand on their lots or build a second home for their children would now be shot down because of the new law, which would restrict building dimensions.Planning officials and community board supporters of the rezoning efforts took down several names of people with homes on larger lots and Avella said he would try to find a solution for those residents.”If there's a problem, come to us and we'll work with the Department of Buildings,” he said.One point of contention in the plans centers on College Point Boulevard, which along with the majority of College Point, is currently zoned R4 for all housing types with a 25-foot maximum height. A provision in the existing zoning law allows developers to build in a similar manner to surrounding buildings, allowing for higher densities and larger developments. In an effort to maintain the current character, no change in zoning was proposed for that area.”No one but developers will benefit,” said Joanne Colorundo, a longtime College Point resident. “Make a zoning plan that controls what's built, not stops it.”The difference between the old zoning designation and the new one is slight, according to urban planner Paul Graziano, but significant because the new zoning designation can lower building height by one story.”The thing that kills me is listening to people scream about overdevelopment for years … they care about their next-door neighbor's property, but they don't want to be burdened,” Graziano said.Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.



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