New district approved with 70-block rezoning

Council Member Avella drops his opposition to the application of the R5D district to Jamaica Hill and Hillcrest, Queens. The City Council approved a 70-block rezoning for the Jamaica Hill and Hillcrest areas of Queens and a linked application for a newly created zoning district. The action reduced the size and density of permitted development on 59 blocks and up-zoned 11 blocks to a new district, an R5D.

The R5D district permits all residential building types and floor areas up to a 2.0 FAR but restricts the scale of buildings by setting a 40-foot height limit and stricter parking requirements. For some multi-unit developments, the new district requires design improvements like tree and yard planting and interior garbage storage.

At the June 20, 2006 hearing before Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning & Franchises, John Young, director of City Planning’s Queens office, testified that the population in Jamaica Hills, Hillcrest, Maspeth and Woodside increased by 17 percent between 1990 and 2000 while the city’s population increased by 9.4 percent. The City needed to identify suitable areas for increased development to meet this population surge and the Jamaica Hill/Hillcrest plan sought to do that. Subcommittee Chair Tony Avella commented that the R5D up-zoning remained “extremely controversial.”

Several Jamaica Hill residents testified to the increasing demolition of single-family homes and supplied the Council photos of homes lost to demolition. Although some residents indicated that they remained opposed to the 11-block up-zoning, they urged immediate approval, saying the community desperately needed to stop over-development. Robert Flynn of Queens Community Board 8 testified that the board did not fully support the R5D district but its vote to approve the entire proposal reflected the fact that the community needed the down-zoning. “The rush to pour concrete makes us support the rezoning as presented,” Flynn added.

When public testimony closed, Avella, who represents the district, criticized City Planning of “manipulating the process.” Avella claimed that Planning effectively said to the community that, “if you stop the R5D district, you stop the downzoning.” Avella added that, from his experience as Chair of the Subcommittee, Planning usually worked with the community and had its support on new districts.

Planning’s John Young disagreed with Avella, explaining that Planning originally proposed to up-zone the 11 blocks to an R6B district, but it amended the proposal in response to the community’s concerns over that district’s greater density, parking requirement waivers and lack of height restrictions.

Avella then indicated that he would approve if Planning would agree to amend the zoning if necessary, and Young agreed. The Subcommittee approved, sending it to the Land Use Committee and the full Council, which approved on June 29th. The rezoning area is roughly bounded by Union Turnpike to the north, 170th and 168th Streets to the east, 86th Road and Highland Avenue to the south and Parsons Boulevard to the west.

ULURP Process
Jamaica Hill/Hillcrest
Lead Agency: CPC,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: QN 8, App’d, 37-0-0
Boro. President: App’d
CPC: App’d, 13-0-0

R5D Text
Lead Agency: CPC,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: QN 8,No vote, BX 11,No vote
Boro. President:
QN, App’d, BX,No vote
CPC: App’d, 13-0-0

Council: Jamaica Hill/Hillcrest (June 28, 2006); Council: R5D Text (June 28, 2006); CPC: Jamaica Hill/Hillcrest (C 060337 ZMQ – map amendment) (June 7, 2006); CPC: R5D Text (N 060338 A ZRY – text amendment) (June 7, 2006). CITYADMIN

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