Community Board members may vote on large area rezonings

Community Board members sought advice from Conflicts of Interest Board. Nine members of Community Board 7 in Queens sought an opinion from the Conflicts of Interest Board as to whether they could vote on the Planning Department’s 310-block rezoning proposal for Whitestone, Queens in light of their home ownership in the proposed rezoning area.

The Board advised that voting on rezoning proposals would not violate the Charter’s conflicts of interest rules as long as the community board members disclosed their economic interests to the Conflicts of Interest Board and in the community board’s minutes prior to participating in discussions and voting on such rezoning proposals. Although the Whitestone rezoning could directly benefit the community board members, the benefit was not specifically directed to them alone: the community board members were homeowners and not business investors in property; the Planning Department, not the community boardmembers, had submitted the rezoning proposal; and the proposal covered a large area including 8,000 properties.

Advisory Opinion No. 2005-3, COIB, November 7, 2005. CITYADMIN

CITYLAND Comment: The 310- block Whitestone area proposed for rezoning is predominantly developed with one and two-family detached houses. The rezoning proposal would lower density and impose a contextual rezoning district to preserve the existing neighborhood scale. The Planning Commission certified the proposal on August 22, 2005 and held apublic hearing on November 2, 2005. At the hearing, several residents complained that the Community Board was not diligent about notifying the community or soliciting input. The Commission approved the Whitestone rezoning on December 7, 2005.

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