Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):
I am writing to express my concern over the rezoning process currently underway for the Dutch Kills area of Queens.Since my family has owned a residence in this area for approximately 100 years, I have an active interest in this situation.It is my impression that certain overzealous developers are taking advantage of the protracted time frame allotted for the completion of the Environmental Impact Statement. There are a large number of hotel projects under construction now, and I understand some 50 more large buildings are in the planning stages in areas where they would not be allowed under the proposed zoning plan.
It doesn’t take a genius to see what’s happening here. Developers are rushing in to take advantage of existing zoning to maximize the profitability of their land as of right.In the process, they are creating the very impact the EIS is supposed to prevent.
I don’t think this is a coincidence. Something stinks.While we sit and wait for the much-delayed completion of the EIS, the development continues unchecked. My primary concern is that any or all of the following may be over-taxed, possibly creating anything from an unpleasant, to a dangerous or even life-threatening situation:
Fire Department: Our firehouse is at half strength since Engine No. 261 was shut down. What happens if one of these hotels goes up in flames? Is the city planning to reactivate Engine No. 261 or is Ladder 116 going to respond alone?
Water: What are all these buildings doing to the Dutch Kills water supply? Will our water pressure or quality be compromised by an additional 700 plus units, whether they be apartments or hotel rooms?
Sewers: Does Dutch Kills have the capacity to accommodate all the extra waste volume that is going to be generated by 700 plus toilets?
Sanitation: Is the manpower available to pick up the extra trash?
Electricity: Area residents are still owed an explanation for the power outage of the summer of 2006. What sort of impact are all these extra structures going to have on the power distribution network? I assume those 700 plus units will be air-conditioned.
Parking: I understand that a great deal of the parking requirements have been waived by the city. Parking in the area is already at a premium. What sort of traffic nightmare will result?
I understand that the Department of City Planning and the Department of Buildings and the various other agencies involved need time to do their jobs under normal circumstances. But these circumstances are not normal.Our community is being impacted while we wait for the EIS that is required under law.
There seem to be only two logical solutions to the problem.
1) Drastically abbreviate, or waive the EIS process entirely and immediately implement the proposed zoning.
2) Halt all new construction pending the completion of the EIS.
Either one of the above could be done with a few strokes of a pen in the proper hand.Too much money is changing hands for common sense to play a part in the Dutch Kills rezoning. The developers stand to make a great profit on their projects, and the city stands to gain from greatly increased tax revenues. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.
All this extra income means nothing if it comes at the expense — God forbid — of another Deutsche Bank fire tragedy.
The city needs to step in and apply the brakes now.