Cambria Heights community expressed concern about impact of proposed one-story commercial building on adjacent community garden. Prior to a public hearing before the City Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee, Ryan Pedram withdrew his rezoning proposal to extend a C1-3 commercial overlay to an existing R3-2 district at the northeast corner of Linden Boulevard between 226th and 227th Streets in Cambria Heights, Queens. Pedram had requested the rezoning in order to develop a one-story, 8,100 sq.ft. commercial building on a vacant lot adjacent to a community garden owned by the Trust for Public Land.
Linden Boulevard is the main commercial corridor in Cambria Heights and is characterized by low-rise commercial, mixed-use, and residential buildings. In 2005 the City approved a contextual rezoning of Cambria Heights. 2 CityLand 100 (Aug. 15, 2005). Pedram’s property was residentially developed at the time and its R3-2 zoning was left unchanged. East of Pedram’s property, Linden Boulevard is zoned R3-2 with a C2-3 commercial overlay. To the west, Linden Boulevard is zoned R3-2 with C1-3 commercial overlay. Pedram initially proposed extending the C1-3 overlay 90 feet east to include his lot and ten feet of the community garden.
Queens Community Board 13 and Borough President Helen M. Marshall opposed the proposal. CB 13 stated, among other things, that the project would be inconsistent with the 2005 rezoning and claimed that the proposed building would block light to the community garden. CB 13 also claimed that local Council Member Leroy Comrie had previously requested that Pedram consider allowing the City to acquire the property for a project “more conducive” to the area.
At the City Planning Commission’s April 13 hearing, opponents reiterated the concerns expressed by CB 13. Kelli Singleton, president of the Cambria Heights Civic Association, said that the community wanted to preserve the area’s residential character and claimed that Pedram had not properly maintained the property in the past.
Pedram described how the proposal had been altered to address community concerns. Pedram pointed out that he would provide an eight-foot side yard adjacent to the garden to reduce shadows. He also agreed to provide water, electricity, and a small shed for the garden, as well as rent-free space within his building for community use. In addition, Pedram pledged not to lease commercial space to bars, liquor stores, or pawn shops.
The Commission modified the proposal by reducing the extension of the commercial overlay by ten feet to align with Pedram’s property line. Under the zoning resolution, placing the commercial overlay boundary at the lot line would require Pedram to provide the eight-foot side yard adjacent to the garden.
The Commission approved the proposal by an 11-2-0 vote. Commissioner Karen Phillips opposed the proposal stating that the rezoning would undermine the predictability sought through the 2005 rezoning. Commissioner Irwin Cantor also opposed the proposal citing the community’s opposition to the proposal.
At the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing on June 21, Chair Mark S. Weprin announced that the proposal had been withdrawn. No further explanation was provided.
Lead Agency: CPC, Rev. Neg. Dec.
Comm. Bd.: QN 13, Den’d, 21-1-2
Boro. Pres.: Den’d
CPC: App’d, 11-2-0
Council: Linden Boulevard (C 100342 ZMQ – rezoning) (June 21, 2011).