OVERDEVELOPMENT IS RUINING OUR NEIGHBORHOODS
by Albert Baldeo
Overdevelopment has radically altered the traditional appearance and character of our neighborhoods. Illegal construction, non-compliance with zoning rules, and poor quality construction-this scourge is compounded with our failure to landmark historic buildings.
The results are increased population density, overloading community resources, congestion, pollution, parking and mass transit service problems. Schools are overcrowded and public utilities and services are overburdened, including sewer systems and garbage removal. The beauty of our tranquil neighborhoods is being destroyed. This epidemic has reached such proportions that there are few issues that cry out for governmental action more than overdevelopment in Queens.
The issues are encapsulated in this larger question: “How can we enforce and promulgate laws relating to zoning infractions, illegal conversions, McMansions, lack of land marking of historic districts, concreting over lawns, out-of-character structures, permanent fencing, teardowns and self-certification by engineers and architects?”
Abuse after abuse, eye sore after eye sore, buildings of this nature crop up block after block, like a cancer destroying our communities. Some have been completed, and others have been absolutely abandoned, presenting additional security and sanitation problems of their own.
Down zoning, the solution to the problem, curbs overdevelopment and stops out-of-character development in Queens' residential neighborhoods. Changes in zoning regulations will align new construction with the character of the borough's neighborhoods and will ensure that communities can gracefully accommodate new development.
City Planning, in consultation with the Queens Borough President's Zoning Task Force, is supposedly conducting neighborhood zoning studies throughout the borough of Queens with the goal of preventing further overdevelopment in each neighborhood. But why, after four years, we are still waiting for City action? Do we have to wait until the monstrosities completely overwhelm our neighborhoods? Why has it been stalled by the Department of City Planning over the last several years?
We must get the rezoning process moving again, as real estate investors continue to break ground on large-scale construction projects, putting up condominiums and four and five-story buildings with increasing frequency.
Clearly, City Planning and the Department of Buildings have dropped the ball. The City needs to complete the Down zoning Phase II process, and add personnel who are better trained, properly inspect violation complaints and respond quickly and efficiently.
Historic landmarks must also be preserved. The City must carry out the mandate of its residents. Enough is enough!
Albert Baldeo, Esq.
Community Advocate and Attorney at Law