Today’s news:

Waldheim rezone coming: Liu

City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) announced this week that a community forum on the Waldheim rezoning will take place at Flushing Hospital May 1 as the oft-delayed plan gets set to undergo the public approval process.

Liu and Community Board 7 Chairman Gene Kelty recently said they expected the plan to begin moving forward in earnest during the month of May, with hopes that the plan would be approved by the City Council before the end of the year.

Liu said the forum, which is scheduled May 1 at 7:30 p.m. in Flushing Hospital's auditorium, will present the most recent version of the rezoning plan, answer questions about recent changes to the plan and give residents an opportunity to provide feedback.

"As our community grows, we need to protect the quality of life and neighborhood character that attracted so many of us to live in Flushing in the first place," Liu said. "A good rezoning plan will allow for an orderly transition as residents move, businesses change, and community institutions address new needs."

The Waldheim rezoning plan covers an area of southwestern Flushing east of the Van Wyck Expressway and North of Kissena Park. Recently, the Holly Civic Association formally requested that a portion of the rezoning covered by their civic be removed from the plan.

Liu and Kelty said they do not expect the changes to dramatically affect the timing of the rezoning's approval, which has been in the works for more than a decade.

"The Waldheim community has been waiting years for this rezoning to take and we will try to expedite approval for the proposed plan as quickly as possible," Kelty said.

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said while the progress on the Waldheim rezoning is encouraging it should not mean that two other rezonings in Community Board 7 North Flushing and Auburndale should not move forward.

Avella held a rally in North Flushing Monday with civic leaders from the neighborhood to demand that the city move forward with the proposed rezoning for the area.

"The communities of Auburndale, North Flushing, and Waldheim-Holly in the greater Flushing area have been waiting to be contextually rezoned for years," said Henry Euler, vice president of the Auburndale Improvement Association Inc.

"City Planning always manages to put it off over and again with endless excuses and unacceptable explanations. In the meantime, other areas get rezoned and we are faced with endless over development that is destroying the character of our communities."

The Department of City Planning said work on both the Auburndale and North Flushing rezonings is progressing.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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