Hotels can currently build as-of-right in manufacturing and commercial zones, which allows them to skip the process of obtaining permits and community approval. Dutch Kills, where a number of the hotels are being constructed, is zoned for manufacturing despite the fact that the neighborhood also has a number of residences, a spokesman for Gioia said.Gioia said this zoning has allowed for hotels to be located in neighborhoods where they are out-of-character, creating traffic congestion and making it difficult to find a parking space.The councilman said he wants the city to fully study the impact of locating a hotel in a neighborhood and giving community members a voice in the process."I'm thrilled that tourism is booming in New York and that the demand for hotel rooms is high," he said. "But we can't have 12-story hotels next to one-family homes. We need a system that will allow us to make sure that hotels are going in the right neighborhoods where there are the amenities to support them."Gioia called on the city to create a permit that would require developers to seek approvals from the city's Department of City Planning before constructing a hotel. Dutch Kills residents were recently outraged to find that not only 11 new hotels, including a 16-floor tower on Queens Plaza North near 41st Avenue, were being planned in areas close to their neighborhood, but also that the city's Buildings Department had not required provision for parking at some of the sites. But Jerry Walsh, president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, said he did not think the creation of a special permit would limit hotel construction."It's ludicrous," he said. "If they create a special permit, a large developer could afford it. It's going to be a nightmare here. We'll need special permits to park on our streets. The city seems to be telling us we can't own a car."Community Board 1 member George Stamatiades said he did not think a new permit would affect large hotel chains."I can't see the city telling [Donald] Trump or the Marriott to get a special permit," he said. "The hoteliers have the wherewithal to pay for it. You're not saying, 'You can't build.' You're saying, 'You can build, but go get a permit.'"A spokeswoman for the Department of City Planning said it has proposed to rezone Dutch Kills to a mixed-use district that would prevent out-of-character development. She said there have been numerous applications to construct hotels in the neighborhood and that City Planning is pressuring the city's Buildings Department to ensure new construction in the community complies with safety regulations.Dutch Kills residents were recently angry that the city had eliminated plans for parking at two apartment buildings under construction in the neighborhood. The buildings would be located at Crescent Street between 41st Avenue and Queens Plaza North. The DOB waived parking requirements at both buildings.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@times
©2008 Community News Group
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