By Connor Adams Sheets

More than 400 square blocks in the Auburndale area are included in a rezoning application the Department of City Planning expects to certify by April, according to Paul Graziano, an independent urban planning consultant in Flushing, who attended a closed-door community meeting on the issue last week with department representatives.

The plan represents the long-postponed fruit of a decade of advocacy work by Graziano and concerned residents and officials who say they want to see their residential neighborhoods protected from over-development.

The rezoning will go a long way toward protecting the character of parts of Auburndale, Kissena Park and Hollis Hills, Graziano said, but issues remain involving the plan for the Station Road, Oakland Gardens and Northern Boulevard areas.

“City Planning has moved in the right direction on everything except for a few major, major sticking points,” he said. “For the most part, it’s pretty good. All the issues pretty much focus on the Station Road area, all the other neighborhoods seem to be on board otherwise …. For the most part it’s changing the zoning to better reflect the existing physical development pattern.”

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said he has had conversations with City Planning representatives and thinks the agency will address the Oakland Gardens and Northern Boulevard concerns, but not the remaining Station Road issue.

“They addressed 90 percent of what we wanted done. I don’t see why this administration can’t do 100 percent of what the community asked for, but that’s the art of compromise,” he said. “Out of the three outstanding issues, two of them can be addressed at this point, and I’ve had conversations with them and I think they will be, so at this point I think we’d have the consensus that we need to move ahead if these two issues could be addressed.”

But the Station Road problem is significant, Graziano emphasized, who said the concerns about the other areas also must be adequately addressed. The manufacturing-zoned area near Star Nissan at Auburndale Lane is bothersome to nearby residents, who want it downzoned to residential, Graziano said, and the plan does so for only one-half of the site.

City Planning maintains that it has a longstanding policy to not rezone districts from manufacturing to residential if they are currently occupied by manufacturing uses.

But the city has accommodated nearly all of the residents’ concerns, according to Graziano, and the plan will stop the creep of big development, which he said has been detrimental to northeast Queens in recent years.

“This rezoning will do a lot to stabilize these neighborhoods, but as I’m saying, the damage has been done, but not enough to change the outcome of the proposed zoning,” he said. “It’s still a strong character, but if something isn’t done quickly, five or 10 years will go by and the character will be destroyed.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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