Commercial zone overlays eliminated in Staten Island

Council angered by allegation that rezoning will impede affordable housing construction. The full Council approved three linked proposals to eliminate commercial zoning overlays in 21 areas of Staten Island after a public hearing where a Staten Island architect alleged that the actions would impede affordable housing development.

The October 6, 2005 hearing before the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises became heated when a Staten Island architect, who first testified that a block on Wyman Avenue should retain its commercial zoning, cautioned the Council that its efforts to downzone Staten Island could ultimately prove exclusionary for low-income families. Calling his comment an “insult” and “disgusting,” Council Member Andrew J. Lanza told the architect that “not a single stick of affordable housing has been built in Staten Island” and commented that the rezonings had been thoughtfully planned. “You know how much affordable housing will be built in Staten Island: zero,” Lanza told the architect. When the architect began to explain that he was currently working on a multi-family project aimed at first-time home buyers, Council Member Tony Avella, the Subcommittee Chair, told the architect that he was cutting him off.

Additional opposition testimony came from a property owner with a site that had contained an oil and heating company since 1 963. He asked that his site be carved out of the rezoning to allow it to maintain its commercial zoning.

Closing public testimony, Council Member Lanza recommended that the lot containing the heating and oil company be removed from the rezoning and that no other modifications be supported. The Subcommittee approved the three actions, adopting Lanza’s modification. The Land Use Committee and full Council approved.

The approved rezoning eliminated commercial overlays on blocks determined by the Planning Department to be primarily residential in nature. With the removal of the commercial zoning, a loophole was removed that had allowed developers to build large as-of-right residential developments in lower density areas. For the full ULURP process, see 2 City Land 138 {Oct. 15, 2005.)

Council: Staten Island Commercial Overlay Rezoning (October 1 1 and October 27, 2005) ; Staten Island Commercial Overlay Rezoning (C 050453 ZMR), (C 050454 ZMR) , (C 050455 ZMR) (September 1 4, 2005) . CITYADMIN

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