Thursday, July 9, 2009
Why Astoria looks like that
From the Queens Chronicle:
Part of the audience’s criticism seemed to stem from misunderstandings about what the rezoning is meant to do. Numerous area residents complained bitterly about buildings more than 10 stories tall that have been constructed recently in areas where smaller structures are the norm.
John Young, director of the Queens office of City Planning, repeatedly pointed out that the proposed rezoning would combat exactly those types of buildings, but residents still protested.
The most common objection was that the proposed rezoning could lower property values, since future construction would have to be smaller in scale than what is now permitted.
“When you change the zoning, you basically change the value of people’s property,” a resident of 14th Street said.
Several other individuals asked whether the Planning Department had calculated how the proposed zoning changes would affect property values. Young did not answer that question directly, reiterating instead that the plan is aimed at preserving the character of the neighborhood.
Some residents said it’s too late for that. “Astoria’s character has already been lost,” one resident said. “It’s been destroyed.”
Another resident agreed, saying, “The time to save the whole character of Astoria was 60 years ago.”
Despite the community’s gripes about what is perceived as overdevelopment, many individuals objected to stricter rules for their own streets. Residents of streets that are proposed to be zoned R4, which caps building heights at 35 feet and requires front yards of at least 10 feet, said they would rather be zoned as R6, R6A or R6B, which allow buildings up to twice that height and don’t require yard space.
I'm confused - is Astoria a neighborhood that residents want to preserve and live in, or is it a cow to be milked for every last drop? Since you folks seem conflicted on the answer, the bulldozers will keep rolling.