CB 7 approves special zone

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With eight under its belt in the last five years, Community Board 7 is getting the knack of pushing through rezoning plans.

CB 7 unanimously voted to approve a special zoning district for College Point Corporate Park Monday night, jump− starting the public approval process the city hopes to rocket through in just two to three months.

The zoning district was designed to preserve developmental restrictions that have been in place at the 550−acre Corporate Park for the last 40 years under an Urban Renewal Plan that expires in April.

“We need to protect the existing special district,” said CB 7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian. “If we don’t, we’ll be left with a much worse situation.”

The Urban Renewal Plan expires at the end of April, and Queens City Planning Commissioner John Young said measures have already been taken to shorten the public approval process for the new district, which typically lasts about seven months.

“The Queens borough president will hold her hearing Thursday,” Young said. “And the Department of City Planning has already scheduled its hearing for April 5.”

The Corporate Park plan was the eighth rezoning proposal the board has voted on since 2005, a four−year period during which the northern Queens group has reviewed neighborhood preservation rezonings for areas like Whitestone and North Flushing and massive developmental rezonings like the Willets Point redevelopment plan.

Under the existing Urban Renewal Plan, College Point Corporate Park is zoned for a variety of manufacturing and industrial uses, but has special stipulations that require all businesses that come into the area to adhere to strict guidelines, such as parking regulations for commercial space, planted yards and complete enclosure of all manufacturing or industrial facilities.

Young said the new plan will preserve or expand upon those restrictions and is designed to protect adjacent residential neighborhoods in College Point.

“All of this is insuring that the quality of the businesses in the corporate park is to the highest standard in terms of not affecting the neighbors in the surrounding communities.”

Despite the unanimous vote, several College Point residents voiced concerns at the hearing, held at Union Plaza Care Center in Flushing, with many contending that the existing situation at the corporate park wreaks havoc on traffic and pollution in the region.

“There are noxious fumes that some days are so bad you can’t breathe and the neighborhood is covered in dust,” said College Point resident Jim Singletary.

The board made several recommendations to the City Planning proposal, including asking for increased community oversight of businesses entering the corporate park and a request that the abandoned Flushing Airport site be developed exclusively for light recreation or parks uses.

The board also recommended that a stipulation in the existing zoning, which allows for nuclear waste to be stored at the facility, be eliminated from the new zoning plan.

“You would have to roll over me with a tank before I’d allow nuclear waste to be stored in College Point,” said board member Nicholas Miglino.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 6:34 pm, October 10, 2011
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