Today’s news:

Officials back zoning change for Cord Meyer

Residents and officials say a proposal by the Department of City Planning to rezone the 32−block Cord Meyer area of Forest Hills would help to retain the neighborhood’s charm that some individuals contend has been maligned by large homes with little greenery.

“This comes from years of constituent complaints about overbuilding in the area,” City Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D−Forest Hills) said. “This area of Cord Meyer has been overdeveloped for the last five years or so, and in the last year we’ve been getting an enormous amount of complaiants about it. There’s about 10 percent of the houses that are build out of conformity with the rest of the community.”

The proposal, which still needs to go before the community board and ultimately the City Council, would rezone the upper−middle−class neighborhood from the current R1−2 to R1−2A. The new zoning, which would pertain to the area bounded by 66th Avenue to the north, Grand Central Parkway to the east, 72nd Road to the south and 108th Street to the west, would mandate buildings be no taller than 35 feet. Current zoning, which has not been changed since the early 1960s, has no building height restrictions.

Additionally, there would be a minimum front yard depth of 20 feet.

“It would maintain the character,” said Frank Gulluscio, district manager of Community Board 6. “Some people in that area build right up to the sidewalk, and that type of thing would be addressed with the rezoning.”

DCP spokeswoman Jennifer Torres said in an e−mail that DCPlanning officials consulted with Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D−Forest Hills), Community Board 6 members and local civic associations to “establish sensitively tailored zoning regulations to protect the special character of Cord Meyer’s early 20th century housing stock and foster more predictable building patterns.”

Cord Meyer, once known for its Tudor−, Georgian− and Cape Cod−style homes, has seen a lot of change in recent years, with newer residents tearing down the old homes and frequently replacing them with larger houses and little or no lawns.

“You had some beautiful old English−type houses, and it was just a nice, little neighborhood,” said Barbara Stuchinski, president of the Forest Hills Community & Civic Association. “The problem that the old−timers over there had is that there are new folks moving in and their idea of what they want to live in is very different. For the most part, they demolish the old homes and put up fairly large brick homes, most of them with gates and not much landscaping. They don’t seem to go for yards or trees.”

Gulluscio said his office has received complaints about the McMansions that dot parts of Cord Meyer.

Stuchinski said she once disapproved of the larger homes, but they have not devalued homes in the area.

“More and more popped up, so you grew accustomed to looking at them,” she said. “People may not agree with them, but we’re getting more new people in. We can’t slam the door in their face.”

Still, she said eyesores remain in the area and the rezoning would ensure the homes that neighbors find more than difficult to live near could no longer be built

The maximum lot area, 6,000 square feet, would remain the same with the rezoning, but the total floor space would be reduced from 4,500 to 3,300 square feet.

Torres said there would soon be a public hearing on the rezoning, but no date has been set.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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