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Members of Community Board 7 are anxious to get a new special zoning district in place at College Point Corporate Park, but City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) said the city’s current plan is not good enough.
The city Economic Development Corp., which administers the corporate park, has proposed a special zoning district designed to preserve many of the developmental restrictions in place under an urban renewal plan, which expires in April.
But while CB 7’s College Point Task Force is eager to move the proposal ahead, Avella said the city plan opens the door for adult establishments and heavy industrial businesses that will drag down the quality of life for the surrounding neighborhoods.
“The quality of life for these neighborhoods is not what it used to be because of the corporate park. How much more can these neighborhoods take?” Avella said.
CB 7 College Point Task Force Chairman Chuck Apelian said the special zoning district proposed by the city may not be perfect, but will adequately maintain the restrictions that have been in place at the 550−acre site since 1969.
The corporate park is home to some of Queens’ largest individual employers, including The New York Times printing plant, Scandinavian construction firm Skanska and Crystal Windows and Doors Systems.
The urban renewal plan has restricted development in the area to mainly commercial and light manufacturing and excludes uses like auto−salvage yards and other heavy industrial uses and adult establishments such as strip clubs, which the special zoning district does not specifically address.
“The idea was to basically mimic or improve on the existing regulations and this does a pretty good job of that. I’d expect we’re going to vote in favor of it with recommendations,” Apelian said. “The way [the task force] sees it, adult establishments are allowed by the First Amendment and we just don’t feel like it’s our place to rule on that. Avella is still making that an issue, but it’s something that’s more of a citywide issue, so we’re choosing not to get involved.”
Avella said he can understand the board wanting to move the project along, but allowing minor elements to slip through the cracks is disappointing.
“I don’t think rolling over is the best way to go. If you roll over with the administration, they’ll just ignore you,” Avella said. “I think when the people find out what the mayor is planning to do to them, they’ll be very angry.”
Avella said he also wants to see language in the special zoning district that would bar the city from relocating businesses from Willets Point to the Corporate Park. The city plans to move five Willets Point businesses to the corporate park, which Avella said is unacceptable.
“The mayor runs around saying all the Willets Point businesses are urban blights, and now he turns around and just wants to pass these blights on to every other community in Queens,” he said.
The proposal to move the Willets Point businesses, however, is separate from the special zoning district and Apelian said he expects the board will have ample opportunity to review, and if necessary, reject the proposal.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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