City Council Approved First BluePRint Applicant


Aerial view of St. Francis Preparatory School. Image Credit: Google.

City Council approved rezoning amendment to expand music and science programs at St. Francis Preparatory School. On August 19, 2013, the City Council’s Land Use Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises held a public hearing on St. Francis Preparatory School’s rezoning application. The school, located at 6100 Francis Lewis Boulevard in Fresh Meadows, Queens, filed an application on January 24, 2013, for an amendment of the zoning map. The proposed action would allow the school to build additional classrooms, science laboratory, art and musical performance facilities, as well as a chapel.

St. Francis’ zoning application proposed to change one full block and one partial block from an R3-2 District to an R4 district. The change to an R4 district would increase the floor area ratio for community facility uses from 1.0 to 2.0. The changes would expand the existing St. Francis Prep by approximately 58,893 gross square feet. St. Francis Prep, the largest nondiocesan Catholic high school in the United States, currently owns the lot in the rezoning application.

At the Zoning and Franchises hearing, Steven M. Sinacori of Akerman Senterfitt LLP stated that the proposed rezoning of the school would enhance the educational experience of students who come “from all walks of life” and who are “truly representative of the borough of Queens,” and will improve science and music programs, for which St. Francis is known.  The school has produced Intel semifinalists in 12 of the last 15 years. The Intel Science Talent Search is the most prestigious science competitions for high school seniors in the United States.

St. Francis does not intend to increase the student population, which is currently 2,750 students. Chair of the Committee on Land Use Leroy Comrie of Queens Council District 27 strongly encouraged the school to reconsider increasing its student population due to three other Catholic schools in Queens closing.

The Committee unanimously voted to approve and the full City Council voted to approve the school’s application at the Stated Meeting on August 22, 2013 in a vote of 47-2. City Council Members Daniel Dromm and Rosie Mendez voted against the application.

St. Francis was the first pilot to be certified under BluePRint. BluePRint is City Planning’s new review process for applications that require discretionary approval by City Planning and the City Council.  BluePRint’s goal is to reduce the time most projects spend in pre-certification by having a clear and predictable review process for both the applicants and agency staff before the application enters the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process. City Planning works with developers and property owners to develop a land use proposal and engages in extensive environmental and technical analysis of the applications required for ULURP review.

Sinacori, who represents St. Francis, stated that the BluePRint process shortened the application and review process by six months to a year. Sinacori remarked that, translated into a development project, the time saved equates to an enormous amount of money saved that will trickle down to the ultimate user.

St. Francis Prep submitted a Pre-Application Statement to launch the process in January 2012, and the school’s application was certified by City Planning 15 months later on March 18, 2013. City Planning estimated the process would have taken 30 months. City Planning projects that BluePRint will save more time in the future when it is fully implemented at the end of 2013.

Council: St. Francis Preparatory School Rezoning (C 130170 ZMQ – rezoning) (August 22, 2013).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.