Public review begins for Woodhaven-Richmond Hill rezoning
by Lisa A. Fraser
Feb 29, 2012 | 773 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Monday, Department of City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden announced the beginning of a public review for the 229-block rezoning of the Woodhaven and Richmond Hill neighborhoods.

The public review process begins with a public hearing at Community Board 9, which has 60 days to review the proposal before it goes to the Borough President, the City Planning Commission and the City Council as part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

Community Board 9 has not yet set a date for the public hearing, but leaders in both neighborhoods are pleased with the developing process.

“CB9 is delighted and thankful that the character of these two unique communities will be preserved for future generations," said CB9 chair Andrea Crawford. "With appropriate zoning that allows for growth along the wide commercial corridors, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven will be able to safely accommodate the growing population coming to these communities.

"It is this type of a balanced and rational approach to zoning that preserves our neighborhoods and supports appropriate growth,” she added.

Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, is also happy with the progress.

“We hope that CB9 schedules a vote on this as soon as possible,” he said.

The entire rezoning area is bound by Park Lane South to the North, Eldert Lane to the West, the Van Wyck Expressway to the East and 103rd Avenue to the South.

It aims to tackle 78 blocks in the Woodhaven section and 151 in Richmond Hill.

The aim is to reinforce neighborhood character and established building patterns by replacing the existing zoning with new, lower-density contextual zones.

The proposed rezoning would reinforce the area’s one- and two-family residential character, and direct new mixed-use development opportunities to major corridors, including Jamaica and Atlantic avenues. The department hopes that the zoning changes will transform those two corridors to provide greater scale and density for buildings.

The proposal would also update commercial overlay zones to support economic development along commercial corridors and ensure that business uses won’t encroach on residential uses on area side-streets.

The rezoning proposal was crafted in response to concerns raised by Community Board 9, local civic organizations and local elected officials about out-of-character development. The rezoning of the neighborhoods has not been updated since 1961.

“The neighborhoods have seen their populations grow in recent years, but due to antiquated zoning, they are experiencing growth in the wrong places,” said Burden. “Numerous homes have been demolished and replaced with out-of-character buildings, while major corridors that have access to transit and can accommodate growth have not seen development opportunities.”

Local elected officials are pleased with the rezoning.

“It is important that the rezoning allows for responsible growth and development of these areas,” said Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley also applauded the proposal.

"The rezoning of Woodhaven and Richmond Hill will strengthen the neighborhoods' appearance by preserving its characteristic one- and two-family homes,” she said.

According to one city planner, Brendan Pillar, the rezoning of Queens has been a major priority. Since 2002, the department has rezoned 6,000 blocks – almost a quarter of the borough.

This is not the first rezoning that the department has undertaken in Community Board 9. A 140-block rezoning was approved by the City Council in 2005 for Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill.

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