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.”
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.