By John Tozzi

Urban planning consultant and preservation activist Paul Graziano presented a proposal to the Auburndale Improvement Association to change the zoning in much of the area to the R2A designation he helped craft.The R2A zoning creates a single-family zone that defines floor areas, requires lower building heights and provides sloping roof guidelines to ensure that new homes are in keeping with the scale of existing homes on typical lots. The current zoning is a mix of R2, which many have criticized as being full of loopholes that allow houses larger than intended, and R3-2, a broad category that permits many larger dwellings even in areas now dominated by single-family detached homes.”It's a change to protect rather than to promote development,” Graziano told the packed meeting room at the Reception House restaurant on Northern Boulevard.Terry Pouymari, president of the Auburndale Improvement Association, said the zoning changes were long overdue, a sentiment that many in the crowd echoed.”We've been inundated with developers who are putting in houses that are not contextual,” she said in a phone interview before the meeting.The strictest protection for architecturally significant neighborhoods is historic district status from the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. Graziano and his business partner, Phillip Esser, wrote the application for the Broadway-Flushing historic district, an area that overlaps the western part of Auburndale.While Graziano has succeeded in getting the 1,300-building district on state and national historic registries, the city has yet to act on the proposal. But the pair said Auburndale is rich in largely intact planned communities from the early 1900s that are threatened by teardowns and so-called “McMansions” today.”We're looking at these yellow brick boxes that are just boxes,” Esser said. “Innately we understand that they are out of balance.”Pouymari said that while a broad consensus in favor of rezoning exists in Auburndale, the civic association had not considered historic districts before. She said that “extra layer” of protection would require more discussion and strong support from the neighborhoods affected.Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 174.



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