City Planning proposes plan for Sunnyside Gardens

Under proposal, Landmarks would be solely responsible for all permits to alter Sunnyside Gardens’ buildings. On August 20, 2007, the Planning Commission sent a proposal to Queens Community Board 2 and Borough President Helen Marshall that would make Landmarks solely responsible for all permits to alter buildings in Sunnyside Gardens, a planned community of single-family homes and apartments built in the 1920s.

Landmarks had voted in June 2007 to designate a 600-building historic district covering Sunnyside Gardens, which created a potential conflict with an existing section of the zoning text. 4 CityLand 92 (July 15, 2007). The City, in 1974, decided to protect the unique nature of Sunnyside Gardens by zoning it as a Special Planned Community Preservation District, and requiring all property owners to apply for a special permit to City Planning if they wanted to demolish or alter their building, or to change its landscaping. The special permit triggered the City’s land use review procedure, ULURP.

City Planning’s proposal will alter the zoning text, making Landmarks solely responsible to review all plans by property owners to alter buildings and landscaping in Sunnyside Gardens. The text change will also impose new uniform height, bulk, density and parking requirements for a majority of the Sunnyside Gardens preservation district. In the proposal, City Planning argued that the change will remove the burden on property owners to seek dual agency approvals.

Landmarks’ June 2007 designation has yet to be voted on by the City Council, which has the authority under the City’s charter to reject the entire designation. With significant opposition to the designation by some Sunnyside Gardens residents, preservationists see the Council’s rejection as a distinct possibility.

CPC: Sunnyside Gardens Special PC Text Amendment, Application No. N 080052 ZRQ (Aug. 20, 2007).

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