From the Woodside Herald:
Joseph Conley, Chairman of Community Board 2, and two NYC Planning officials offered a “show and tell” with well-executed handouts and flip charts of proposed rezoning in Woodside and Sunnyside at the first public meeting on the topic, Wednesday night at Sunnyside Community Services.
Many of the approximate 50 attendees came because of a worried ‘buzz’ on the street that developers and private interests were working through the City to remove impediments and grass roots control standing in the way of over development. Conley assured questioners that it was the Community Board itself, which had initiated the rezoning study. “After the fires destroyed Butcher Block, Bloom’s and the Dae Dong Restaurant, we learned that the 1961 zoning laws allowed more rebuilding latitude than we thought and we needed to rezone to protect the area.” He explained that the overall intent to study rezoning was to allow inevitable growth to occur in a nondamaging way.
John Young, the Director of the Queens Office of the Department of City Planning, and his associate, Thomas W. Smith, ran quickly through existing zoning areas and preliminary rezoning to introduce the topic, using very clear block cluster illustrations and what amounted to before and after zoning maps. Because the study is preliminary, Conley suggests all interested parties become familiar with the intricacies of zoning and codes, so we can make informed suggestions ourselves from the beginning.
Community Board 2 will make available in its office the proposed changes, and put as much as possible online. Not all wanted to entertain a zoning discussion. “We need parks before we start talking about rezoning,” said lifelong resident Vincent diMartini.
Descriptions of possible changes on Greenpoint and Queens Boulevard sounded worth evaluating carefully. Donald McCallian of United Forties voiced concerns about parking. “We have residential buildings with 72 units and nine parking spaces. And along Greenpoint, few of the buildings were allowed to build underground which contributes to a lack of parking today.”
Most attended to get a handle on what is going to be proposed and how local residents and business can have as much input on the process as possible.
Local architect Laura Heim and her husband, preservationist Jeffrey Kroessler, were attentive and interested in understanding exactly what the changes were. “I’ve had worried people coming into my office asking what was happening,” Heim said. “I was relieved to hear how rezoning proposals came about, described the way it was tonight.”
Lily Gavin attended from the Sunnyside Chamber and Sunnyside Shines, as did Artie Weiner and James Bray. Al Volpe of Berkeley Towers and Dorothy Kaminski from Big Six were among the throng. Virtually every area is subject to revision. It seems clear to this author that we need to take up Joe Conley on his suggestion and get knee deep in the details, learn the symbols, understand what the zoning is now and what could be built as city codes now stand and then what protection or change is being suggested. It will take homework. Future meetings will present that opportunity so we will not have to protest later that we are being handed a developer’s or government’s ideal of rezoning as a fait accompli.
One can study the current proposals and the orange ‘Zoning Handbook,” free at the Community Board 2 office.
Lisa Deller, Land Use Chairman of Community Board 2 said, “We hope people speak up. We are trying to fix something to protect us all.”