Avella named chair of council’s zoning committee

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It has been almost a month since freshman City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) took office and he has been ready to jump right in ever since the November election. Now if only his office furniture would catch up with him ...

“The furniture was supposed to be delivered in two truckloads, but one never made it,” Avella said Tuesday as he surveyed his new — and currently empty — office at 38-50 Bell Blvd. “There was a partial delivery of file cabinets. We’re getting the phone lines today and the rest of the phones Thursday.”

“It’s not funny anymore,” he said with a frustrated smile.

Despite the delay in office amenities, Avella and his small staff have been working on constituent complaints “since day one,” he said.

His recent council committee appointments should take away some of the sting.

With only a month under his political belt Avella earned appointments to several council committees last week and was named chairman of the powerful Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee.

In addition to the Zoning subcommittee, which approves every zoning application in the city, Avella was named to the following committees: Land Use, Housing and Buildings, Rules/Privileges & Elections and Fire & Criminal Justice Services.

Avella, a Whitestone resident who ran for northeast Queens’ 19th Council District seat twice before his November election victory, is a civic activist and the second person to hold the seat after former City Councilman Mike Abel (R-Bayside). The district was created in 1991.

“This is going to help a lot,” Avella said of the Zoning and Franchises chairmanship. “It’s another opportunity to come through on the issues I was campaigning on.”

Avella, who is in his first elected post, said he is already seeking to change zoning-related problems affecting his mostly residential district. Avella said those problems include changing the city’s as-of-right law, which allows community facilities such as churches and medical offices to be built in residential zones, and creating an appeal system for the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals.

“I’m excited to really be able to do something about these long-standing issues,” Avella said.

His Republican predecessor, Abel, also held a number of committee posts in his 10 years in office, including: Aging, General Welfare, Land Use, Landmarks and Public Siting & Maritime Uses.

Abel was prohibited from running for office in 2001 because of the city’s term limits law.

The 19th Council District covers most of northeast Queens and includes the communities of Bayside, Bay Terrace, Whitestone, College Point, Malba, Douglas Manor, Beechhurst, and parts of Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Linden Hill, and Murray Hill.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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