Residents in middle Queens may soon get some relief from overdevelopment in the area.
The Department of City Planning is moving forward with a proposal to rezone sections of Middle Village, Maspeth and Glendale to protect them from out-of-character, and usually unwieldy, growth.
The Juniper Park Civic Association widely welcomed the proposal, presented by planner Tom Smith, during a meeting held Thursday in Our Lady of Hope School in Middle Village.
Residents have been calling for the rezoning for years in an attempt to thwart the breakneck pace of development taking advantage of the lax zoning in the neighborhoods.
That zoning, said Smith, is not limiting enough to protect their character and as a result, large, incongruous structures have gone into one- and two-family residential neighborhoods.
“Just ride around the neighborhood, you can see them,” said Bob Holden, president of the JPCA.
One of the main problems with the zoning is that it allows for infill — the use of land within a built-up area for further construction — which enables a developer to build a structure 1.5 times the size of what it should be.
The JPCA even took on Paul Graziano, an urban planning consultant, to help survey the area and draw up a common-sense proposal.
The zoning for the 300-block project area has remained unchanged since 1961. The new zoning, if implemented, would be far more area-specific, reflecting the type of development on each block, than the current zoning, which applies blanket restrictions to the district.
Most in attendance were pleased with the proposal, but some were concerned that about 40 blocks in the study area weren’t included.
Smith said the majority of that area is composed of rowhouses that don’t fit in to zones the city already has. He also doubted that further growth would take place in these neighborhoods.
“We don’t foresee much development there,” he said. “They are built out.”
But Graziano questioned the wisdom of such a decision. He said that if the included areas get rezoned, it would push further development onto the other blocks. Like several in attendance, he wants the city to create a single-family rowhouse district, something it doesn’t currently have.
Still, he was pleased with the planning department’s proposal and said it corresponds closely to the one he drew up. “At first glance it looks pretty good,” he said. “Hopefully they keep to it.”
The plan must now go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure before it can be enacted. The planning department intends to go before Community Board 5, which oversees the three neighborhoods, sometime in the spring, starting the process.
The board will make a recommendation on the proposal, which will then move on to the Queens Borough President’s Office, the City Planning Commission and finally the City Council.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), who took up the project even prior to being seated this year, said she hopes to make it law by May, beating the current downzoning record held by Park Slope in Brooklyn.
The area included in the proposal has been divided into four sections.
The first section, in Maspeth, is bounded by 59th Street, Mount Olivet Cemetery, the Queens-Midtown Expressway and Admiral Avenue.
The second section, in Middle Village, is bounded by the Queens-Midtown Expressway, Woodhaven Boulevard, Mt. Olivet Cemetery, 80th Street, Juniper Boulevard and Lutheran Avenue.
The third section, in eastern Glendale, is bounded by Woodhaven Boulevard, 76th Avenue, 88th Street, 77th Avenue, 80th Street and Cooper Avenue.
The fourth section, in western Glendale, is bounded by the Long Island Railroad, 70th Avenue, 69th Place, Myrtle Avenue, 73rd Street and Mt. Carmel Cemetery.