Planning’s proposal would implement recently approved R1-2A contextual zoning district to reduce height and bulk of future development. On April 22, 2009, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Department of City Planning’s proposal to rezone 32 blocks in the Cord Meyer section of Forest Hills, Queens. The proposed rezoning area is currently zoned R1- 2 and generally bounded by 66th Avenue and 67th Road to the north, 72nd Road to the south, Grand Central Parkway to the east, and 108th Street to the west.
Zoning in Cord Meyer has remained largely unchanged since 1961. The area, primarily consisting of single-family detached houses, has recently experienced development pressure as houses have been demolished and replaced by larger and taller ones that are out-of-scale with the neighborhood. Planning proposed replacing the R1-2 district with the newly created R1-2A contextual district to ensure that future development reflects the area’s established character.
R1-2 zoning districts have no building height limits and the building envelope is determined by the sky exposure plane. Additionally, the lowest story of residences in R1-2 districts does not count as floor area if it contains a garage, which has resulted in new construction that is taller and bulkier than surrounding buildings. The proposed R1-2A district would allow only the garage to be exempt from floor area calculations, and would limit building heights to 35 feet, which Planning believes will lead to more predictable building envelopes that reflect the area’s prevailing scale.
At the Planning Commission’s public hearing, several residents and civic associations spoke in support of the proposed rezoning. A representative of the Queens Civic Congress stated that the plan would address community concerns, but still allow for orderly growth in the area. A representative of the Association of Old Forest Hills also testified in support of the proposal, stating that the neighborhood started seeing “McMansions” being built “seven or eight years ago,” and that they were too large for their lots and out-of- character with the neighborhood.
The Commission has until June 15, 2009 to vote on the proposal.
CPC: Hearing on Cord Meyer-Forest Hills Rezoning (C 090283 ZMQ – rezoning) (April 22, 2009).