June 15, 2010
Recently approved contruction site for yet another hotel in Dutch Kills
The Queens Chronicle reported on June 10 that contruction of a 9 story hotel at 39-35 27th St. in Dutch Kills has been approved by the Board of Standards and Appeals despite the strong opposition of community member expressed at the last regular monthly meeting of the Long Island City Alliance on Tuesday, June 8.
“They are a bunch of crooks over there,” said Barbara Lorinz, president of the Dutch Kills Advocacy League and a life-long resident of the area, regarding the BSA’s decision to allow Manhattan developer, Steven Bahar, to continue construction. All of the top-ranking commissioners on the board are appointed by the mayor. Behar is quoted as saying that new zoning rules “make no sense” and that local politicians are “wimps” succumbing to pressure from residents in order to secure their votes. He further pointed out that there are over a dozen hotels in the area already and that the only reason there are complaints is that his construction is on a residential block.
Megan Dees Friedman, vice-president of the Dutch Kills Advocacy League denied Bahar’s allegations. She said the character of the community was a concern, as was residential proprty values and damage to nearby homes from the contruction site.
Lorinz stressed that Dutch Kills residents are not against all forms of development and that progress must go on. But residents also say they do not want large commercial structures overtaking their two and three family homes.
June 15, 2010
The Western Queens Gazette reported in a front page article on June 2 that the City Council had approved a Department of City Planning proposal to rezone 238 blocks located within the jurisdiction of Queens Community Board 1. The article went on to note that the proposal was “intended to preserve scale and character” of Astoria’s neighborhoods.
But significantly, the issue of zoning variances was not addressed in the proposal which may allow developers to come in and put up numerous “out of character” buildings like they did in the adjacent community of Dutch Kills in the interim period between the approval and implimentation of new zoning regulations. Dutch Kills has since been overrun by a series of ugly, out of character hotels, that are adding stress to it’s infrastucture.
Then there has been far too little discussion on the drawbacks of the Astoria rezoning plan itself and questions such as whether or not the proposal might permit too greater influx of population into a community that is already over-taxed in terms of its ability to provide basic services and quality of life, whether the study area boundary was arbitrarily drawn and fails to take into account the spillover effect of development and population increase in adjacent communities, whether schools, hospitals, sanitation, energy, fire and police protection for an increased population have been adequately addressed and how the cost of absorbing greater population is to be met and whether that cost is to be borne equitably.
These are the questions that need to be asked and addressed before we can truly say that Astoria has been “saved.”
April 24, 2010
Submitted by LICA Executive Board Member Mitch Nisonoff:
25-10 Owners Corp. is the owner of record of the zoning lot located at 25-10 31st Avenue, Block 579, Lot 7502, located at the southeast corner of Crescent Street and 31st Ave., in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens.
Alma Realty has submitted an application for a zoning variance to permit the construction of a new 13,285 square foot, five-story “addition” over the narrow 50 foot wide portion of the site at its southeast corner. The proposed addition would contain 19 dwelling units and an entrance from 31st Avenue., even though it is set back more than a building’s depth from that avenue.
(The exact relationship of Alma Realty to the property is not disclosed in the application.) Members of the Community Board 1 already have informed attorneys for Alma Realty that its plans appear to be in violation of other provisions of the Zoning Code and that, after making appropriate additional submissions to the Buildings Department, a revised application to seek additional variances first should be submitted.
As of now, Alma Realty’s current application still is pending before the Community Board but it has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing.
Local residents are alarmed by the proposed “addition.” If actually built, this structure will abut the property line of and have no windows facing its immediate neighbor at 25-40 31st Ave. (“The Concord”), decrease the available number of parking spots on its own property by five, adversely affect the sunlight now provided to the Concord’s courtyard and to current residents of 25-10 31st Ave. (the “Asti” condominium), and otherwise offers no significant amenities to the community. The proposed “addition” amounts to squeezed-in tenement housing.
LICA presently is assisting the residents in their efforts to oppose this particularly egregious example of proposed overdevelopment and any application for variances pursued by Alma Realty.
March 5, 2010
The New York Daily News reported on February 18 that Community Board 1 “voted overwhelmingly to approve” the Department of City Planning’s new rezoning plan for the Astoria/Long Island City area at its regular monthly meeting and public hearing on the issue on Tuesday, February 16. True enough with the vote being 26 to 1 with one abstention. But the article, written by Lisa F. Colangelo, went on to create a view of the evenings proceedings that was heavily slanted towards those who either supported the plan without reservation or homeowners/developers who were apparently against any form of building regulations. One “homeowner” in particular complained that the new regulations would prevent his elderly grandmother from realizing “her dream” of building apartments for each of her 5 children in her Astoria home.
Ms. Colangelo did mention that 20 year Astoria resident, Brian Beard expressed deep concern over what he termed “crazy development, where you have 15 story buildings going up next to private homes.” But she also failed to point out that Mr. Beard identified himself as a member of the community group Long Island City Alliance and was just the first of approximately 8 speakers from the organization who all expressed concerns about overpopulation, overdevelopment and lack of infrastructure, hospitals, transportation etc. in Astoria/LIC. Additional speakers who did not identify as members of LICA also voiced similar concerns.
The word from the community grapevine is that Ms. Colangelo arrived late due to the snow and did not get to hear Mr. Beard or the other LICA members speak, which in all probability is true since the weather was awful on the 16th. But she certainly could have made more of an effort to get the facts and present a more balanced view of the opinions expressed at the CB 1 meeting.