FAR increased for certain uses after Community Board and Borough President raised concern over proposed limits on commercial and industrial growth. On September 8, 2008, the City Planning Commission approved, with one modification, the Department of City Planning’s proposed rezoning and text amendment for the Dutch Kills area of Long Island City, Queens.
The rezoning plan impacts 40 blocks near the Queensboro Bridge, and seeks to establish a 36-block subdistrict, known as the Dutch Kills Subdistrict, within the existing Special Long Island City Mixed-Use District. The majority of the area within the proposed subdistrict is currently zoned M1-3D, with a small northerly portion zoned M1-1. The new subdistrict would be comprised of four contextual mixed-use zoning districts (R5B, R5D, R6A, R7X) each coupled with an M1 district in order to promote the current range of light industrial and commercial uses while also encouraging new residential development. The remaining four blocks outside of the subdistrict would be zoned M1-2, preserving the manufacturing character of the area.
The majority of Dutch Kills was originally zoned as M1-3, a light manufacturing district. In 1989, most of the neighborhood was rezoned to M1-3D, allowing limited residential development through discretionary Commission review. The new rezoning proposal seeks to address the shortcomings of the old M1-3D district, which allowed for a wide disparity in scale between industrial/commercial developments and existing residential/ mixed-uses. The new plan also seeks to increase the housing stock in Dutch Kills, where demand for housing far exceeds supply.
City Planning’s rezoning allows as-of-right residential uses in the Subdistrict and high-density residential development in the M1- 3/R7X district near public transportation and wide streets. In an effort to promote affordable housing, the Inclusionary Housing Program would be applicable to the M1- 3/R7X district.
At the Commission’s public hearing, business owners speaking in opposition stated that the resulting reduction in FAR from 5.0 to 2.0, in areas being rezoned from M1-3D to M1-2, would inhibit their ability to expand current operations and would discourage other businesses from relocating to the area. Queens Community Board 1 supported the rezoning, but recommended a maximum 3.0 FAR for light manufacturing uses rather than 2.0 in the Subdistrict. Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall also supported the rezoning and recommended a maximum 3.0 FAR for existing commercial and industrial uses within the Subdistrict.
The Commission expressed support for the creation of the Subdistrict and the rezoning, but acknowledged the concerns regarding the reduction of FAR. The Commission modified the plan to allow a maximum 3.0 FAR for certain Use Groups, rather than the proposed 2.0, in all areas outside of the M1- 3/R7X district. In doing so, it pointed out that 90 percent of the light manufacturing and commercial uses in the Dutch Kills neighborhood have an FAR of 1.0 or less and none have fully utilized the existing 5.0 FAR to expand their operations. The Commission anticipates that the modification would permit desired commercial and manufacturing expansion while discouraging unwanted hotel development. The Commission approved the modified rezoning plan by unanimous vote.
Lead Agency: CPC, FEIS
Comm.Bd.: QN 1,App’d, 33-0-1
CPC: App’d, 12-0-0