Last week, four influential Baysiders met with state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) to discuss their opposition to the Department of City Planning's proposal to downzone 350 blocks, holding developers to the strictest building regulations in the city."We had very serious concerns about the rezoning proposal," said Dr. Blanche Felton, president of the John Golden Park Block Association.Felton called the meeting with Padavan last Thursday. East Bayside Homeowners Association President and Community Board 11 member Frank Skala, Bayside resident and developer Seth Daniels, and community representative Andrew Rothman attended the meeting as well. Their opposition to the proposal from Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) included concerns over the lack of community input, potential loss of real estate values, existing homes becoming non-compliant with the law, and the legality of the City Planning's certification procedure.Although Felton said a concrete plan for stopping the application was not determined at the meeting, she said, "we'll continue to work on the fact that we object to the entire rezoning with very solid reasons."Last fall Padavan publicly voiced his opposition to an early version of the proposed rezoning that drew an enormous community outcry. After City Planning changed some elements of the proposal to accommodate aesthetic and construction concerns, the plan won the conditional approval of Community Board 11 in January and the borough President's approval last week under the city's mandated Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, where community and municipal groups can weigh in on the plan. In her recommendation, Marshall noted that before the proposal is approved, "the levels of compliance should be reviewed and verified to assure that the analysis is correct and that an inordinate number of properties are not made non-compliant."The Department of City Planning held a Feb. 16 hearing on the proposal, and it is expected the agency will approve the proposal. The City Council may vote on the plan as early as May.Before then, however, these opponents are hoping their concerns will be heard."We asked Padavan to do what he can do with elected officials," Skala said. "He's been a state official for 32 years. He does know a lot of people.""We just want to notify a couple of people who have influence over whether or not the application proceeds. We were seeking guidance from (Padavan)," Daniels said. "It basically turned out that we should submit information to him and he would forward it to the appropriate parties, such as Amanda Burden (the chairwoman of the Department of City Planning)."Padavan said though the rezoning proposal is a city-level matter, he had reservations about the proposal and would take the concerns raised in the meeting back to the agency."I still think there are a lot of unanswered questions," he said. "This is a very complex issue. What I will be doing is going to the City Planning commission and presenting their points of view, and see what they can do about it. It's the only option I have."Daniels, who intends to request a city investigation into the certification of the rezoning proposal because he said he thinks there was not enough time for the community to fully review the plans, also said Padavan did not openly take a position on the proposal during the meeting."The senator agrees that rezoning is necessary, and he is opposed to much of the new construction taking place," Daniels said. "But his perspective seems to be that he wants things to be carried out in the proper manner. I think that he is forthright in that he says the zoning is very complex and he doesn't understand everything involved."Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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