Oct. 19, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
Citywide zoning changes that could affect local building heights, housing density and more will be presented and discussed at a public meeting sponsored by Community Board 2 and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer next week.
The Department of City Planning will join the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to present two proposed amendments to New York City’s Zoning Resolution, which are designed to promote affordable housing and higher quality buildings city-wide.
The public meeting will take place at IS/HS 404, 1-50 51st Ave., on Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
According to CB 2 Chair Pat O’Brien, the meeting will be run as a presentation with opportunities for questions and comments from the public.
One of the proposed zoning changes that will be discussed, called Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, is particularly relevant to Long Island City.
MIH would require that a new development of 10 or more units include 25 or 30 percent permanently affordable housing, if it is built on land that has been rezoned to increase housing capacity.
Therefore, because the City is planning to upzone the Court Square/Queens Plaza region – a study for this purpose was launched this winter – MIH would be incorporated into the neighborhood’s building rules when that upzoning occurs.
MIH would also apply to private developers city-wide who seek a zoning change for a specific project.
The other proposed zoning amendment, called Zoning for Quality and Affordability, involves a slew of modifications to current zoning regulations that DCP considers outdated and restrictive. Among others, the agency is proposing increased height allowances – notably along Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside and Woodside – to give developers more flexibility, and to incentivize new affordable and senior housing.
Read the LIC Post’s earlier coverage of these and other proposed changes here.
Van Bramer noted that, in contrast to a local zoning change, which is all but determined by his Council vote, his will be one of many votes on these city-wide proposals.
“So even if I voted against it, it would not necessarily stop it from happening,” he said. “But what folks in my district voice on this particular subject matters to me, and I want to hear what people’s thoughts are.”
Some of his personal concerns about the proposals include building height increases along Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside and Woodside, he said.
O’Brien said he expects the meeting to shed light on these zoning changes’ potential effects on the neighborhood, which may not be obvious simply from reading the zoning documents.
“Affordable housing is a beautiful thing. It’s a good concept. However it has different impacts in different communities, and we just want to make sure everybody knows what those might be,” he said.
CB 2 and Van Bramer scheduled next week’s meeting in addition to DCP’s upcoming visit to the Board, as part of the a public review process that kicked off on Sept. 21.
Community Boards were given 60 days from that point to respond on the proposed zoning amendments.
“We have a clock ticking to be able to offer [CB 2’s] comment in a meaningful way,” O’Brien said. “The only way you can do that is to give people as much info as possible, and get back as much input from people as possible.”
CB2’s next full board meeting will take place on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, O’Brien said.
Reach reporter Jackie Strawbridge at [email protected]