Two Staten Island neighborhoods down-zoned

Staten Island Council Member wins approval for down-zoning despite strong concerns of Commissioners Merolo and Phillips. Council Member Andrew J. Lanza, representative for District 51 on the south shore of Staten Island, sought two map amendments for the Eltingville and Tottenville sections of Staten Island, which would predominantly restrict new development to single-family homes

In Eltingville, Council Member Lanza sought to rezone 12 blocks bound by Richmond Avenue, Koch Boulevard, Hayes Avenue and Hylan Boulevard. The area, which had been down-zoned in 1997, would be rezoned from a R3A to R1-2, allowing only single-family homes as-of-right and requiring 40-foot-wide lots. The Tottenville rezoning would cover 65 blocks bound by Arthur Kill Road to the north, the Arthur Kill to the west, Raritian Bay to the south and Page Avenue to the east. The current R3A district would be changed to R1-2 and R3X to restrict a portion to single- family homes and require large lots for any two-family homes. Tottenville had been contextually rezoned in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

At the Commission’s May 11, 2005 hearing, Lanza argued that the rezoning would stop the teardowns of large, historic single-family homes. He commented that such development undermines the neighborhoods’ character and overburdens schools and the already inadequate infrastructure.

Over the no-votes of Commissioners John Merolo and Karen A. Phillips, the Commission approved both applications on June 8, 2005, finding that the rezoning was compatible with the present development plan. The Commission did not believe the rezoning would promote illegal conversions to two-family dwellings, a concern raised by Borough President James Molinaro.

Commissioner Merolo, a former Staten Island Council Member, stated that the original down-zonings of Tottenville and Eltingville, which he supported, were appropriate, but pushing only for “single-family as-of-right development” was too extreme and “the current market does not support it and will not support it.” Commissioner Irwin G. Cantor reluctantly voted yes, noting the predominance of single-family homes on Staten Island, but worried that the recent citywide down-zonings being pushed through by the Commission may weaken the city’s heritage of welcoming all peoples.

ULURP Process: The Planning Commission, as lead agency, issued a negative declaration for both applications on February 28, 2005. Community Board 3 unanimously approved. Borough President Molinaro also approved, but commented that the new zoning would lead to illegal conversions to two-family homes, and would inhibit those people who could only afford to rent from moving into the area.

CPC: Tottenville Rezoning (C 050014 ZMR – map amendment) (June 8, 2005); CPC: Eltingville Rezoning (C 050015 ZMR – map amendment) (June 8, 2005). CITYADMIN

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