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Blueprint for Rockaways unveiled

The City Planning Department unveiled a proposal Monday to rezone 280 blocks in the Rockaways that the agency said would help preserve the peninsula's signature bungalows and its predominantly one- and two-family homes.

"The Rockaway peninsula has evolved from a summertime destination to a series of unique and varied oceanfront communities, but today's zoning is outdated and does not relate to the area's existing character," said City Planning Director Amanda Burden in a statement. "Working closely with the community, we have developed a comprehensive proposal that reflects and enhances the Rockaways' magnificent seashore location and protects the beloved Rockaway bungalows."

There are about 200 bungalows in the Rockaways, which were built in the late 19th century when the peninsula was a summer vacation spot.

City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said he is in favor of the rezoning proposal on the whole.

Addabbo said he first met with Rockaway residents in 2006 to gauge their interest in rezoning the peninsula.

"I'm very happy that after two years we see this plan coming into fruition," Addabbo said. "As we all see, Rockaway is booming. Every little plot is now a condo or a multiple dwelling. I think the zoning plan is generally good. It protects the character of the Rockaways."

Portions of the peninsula are currently zoned R-3, R-4, R-5 and R-6, where multiple dwelling can be built.

City Planning said those zones "are inconsistent with the area's prevailing lower scale, density and built character," referring to one- and two-family homes.

Addabbo said the peninsula's high water table "could be a serious problem" for over-development if the area's sewer system becomes taxed.

The 280 blocks that are part of the City Planning proposal encompass five neighborhoods in the Rockaways: Far Rockaway, Edgemere, Somerville, Rockaway Park and Rockaway Beach.

The next step in the process is for Community Board 14, which covers the Rockaways, to look over the proposal. It then goes to Borough President Helen Marshall, the City Planning Commission and the City Council for a vote.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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