Astoria Presbyterian Church held its final service last Sunday. It will be torn down and replaced with senior housing. Rep. Carolyn Maloney and the Vallones reportedly think it's a great idea. In Staten Island, just the opposite is happening:
State Sen. Andrew Lanza is asking the city to change zoning rules across a good chunk of Rossville in a final attempt to prevent a church from building apartments for senior citizens there.
Lanza's surprise downzoning application, which was filed with the city last week, covers 37 blocks and could prevent Rossville A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal Church) Zion Church from building 119 affordable apartments next to the Bloomingdale Road church, acknowledged an angry Eric Palatnik, the lawyer who represents the house of worship.
The 155-year-old A.M.E Zion is located in the heart of Sandy Ground, an area recognized as the oldest and only surviving neighborhood in the country first settled by free blacks, and it fought for the senior housing project for several years in the face of vehement opposition from neighbors and even some members of its own congregation who argued it was too dense. The development appeared to have finally moved forward in May, when the church won a small but important approval at City Planning.
Now Lanza (R-Staten Island) is asking the same agency to rezone approximately 1,500 lots, including the church property, in order to prohibit townhouses and garden apartments in the future. While he hopes his rezoning will halt the church plan, it's unclear if City Planning will approve the request and if such changes would come in time to beat out the church.
Want leaders who support downzoning? Move to Staten Island.