The Department of City Planning revealed an extensive plan at Community Board 2’s meeting last Thursday to downzone 130 blocks in the neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Woodside in an effort to keep out-of-character developments from popping up in the communities.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what we have,” said Joe Conley, chairman of CB 2.
Thomas Smith, the city planner who presented the proposal at the meeting, said the department had been working on a rezoning of the neighborhoods for about two years, largely to maintain the character of Sunnyside and Woodside while still allowing for a degree of development and growth.
Conley said that under the current zoning, the neighborhood has sometimes seen six-story buildings pop up in areas of largely two-story family homes.
“We’ve seen buildings being built that are out of character for the community,” Conley said. “We want to make sure that some things we’ve seen in the past are not repeated.”
The area being considered encompasses 2,800 lots on 130 blocks, roughly bordered by the Sunnyside Rail Yard, 37th Avenue, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the New York Connecting Railroad, 72nd Street, Woodside Avenue, Roosevelt Avenue, 48th Avenue and 39th Street. Smith said this area includes seven zoning districts which have not been changed since 1961.
Basing its recommendations on talks with residents, civics, electeds and CB 2, the department’s proposed rezoning would impose height limits for new buildings consistent with most of the development already in the area.
The zoning also hopes to provide direction for new growth in the community through commercial overlays, or a commercial district placed over another zone like a residential area and by guiding housing toward the main drags of transit. Some areas of Skillman Avenue and Queens Boulevard will also allow for the development of small, unenclosed sidewalk cafes, Smith said.
For developers who still want more height, the department will grant it so long as the plan allows for a percentage of a new property to be affordable housing, Smith said.
There were some who had problems with the new zoning at the meeting. CB 2 member Tom Ryan said he wanted the rezoning to be extended to Broadway or Northern Boulevard.
Conley said the board will vote on the zoning at its next meeting April 7 at Sunnyside Community Services, at 43-31 39th St. in Woodside, and will be taking suggestions in the meantime. The board can be contacted at 718-533-8773 or by visiting the office at 43-22 50th St. in Woodside.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2011 Community News Group
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