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Council OKs 130- block rezoning

The City Council passed the Sunnyside-Woodside rezoning last Thursday, essentially putting the cap on two years of work to keep new development consistent with the community’s character.

“The Sunnyside-Woodside rezoning goes a long way towards preserving the character of our neighborhoods for generations to come,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), the representative for the area.

The councilman for an area makes the recommendation for the vote on a rezoning.

The measure was passed unanimously with seven members absent. The Council vote makes official Community Board 2’s approval of the rezoning back in April. CB 2 had been working on the plan with Thomas Smith of the Department of City Planning. CB 2 Chairman Joseph Conley said the rezoning had been inspired by a 2001 fire which destroyed Blooms Restaurant on Queens Boulevard near 42nd Street and  and a number of adjacent buildings. Blooms was replaced by a CVS and office/residential building that was much larger than what had been there before.

“The zoning is going to protect, improve the quality of life in Sunnyside and Woodside,” Conley said.

The general borders of the 130-block rezoned area include the Sunnyside Rail Yard, 37th Avenue, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the New York Connecting Railroad, 72nd Street, Woodside Avenue, Roosevelt Avenue, 48th Street and 39th Street. It imposes height restrictions and some commercial overlays — or commercial districts placed over a residential zone — in those areas. The zoning allows developers to build taller structures if a certain percentage of the residential units built are affordable housing. The zoning also has a plus for business-owners and restaurant customers.

“One of the most exciting aspects of this rezoning is the lifting of restrictions on sidewalk cafes along Queens Boulevard while also allowing for small, unenclosed cafes on portions of Skillman Avenue, which will be a great help to small businesses,” Van Bramer said.

The councilman’s office said the area has not been rezoned in 50 years and that passing the rezoning had been a priority of Van Bramer’s ever since he took office.

Conley said Smith did a great job of listening, respecting and responding to the community through the public process of creating the new rezoning.

“This should be a model on how to respectively bring out rezoning regulations that have the community in synch with the Department of City Planning,” Conley said. “It’s all about the process.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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