Kissena Park Civic Association

Important KPCA Issues

Contextual Rezoning

Improper zoning of communities can lead to uncontrolled deterioration. When the 1961 zoning resolution was passed there were different ground rules than there are today. There were no sudden changes in the immigration profile or rapid increases in the establishment of new community facilities. There were still empty lots available to build new homes. Communities were able to develop within the context of some reasonable order. Today we have to deal with a severe scarcity of real estate. Unless we are able to rezone our residential communities to match the present configuration (contextual rezoning) the residential character of our communities may be lost forever. Builders will use every opportunity to take advantage of any weakness in the present zoning to increase their profits. This is not criminal or dishonest, but is simply good business. It is the responsibility of our City Government to provide us with the protection we deserve, but will do nothing until we present them with a good case for change. The Kissena Park Civic Association is working towards contextual rezoning as part of an ambitous plan engineered by Paul Graziano, a professional planner. Paul is working on our behalf because he does not want to see Flushing lose its residential character. Paul has a long history of being the champion of many civic groups and concerned citizens who are trying to preserve the historical value of their neighborhoods. We are very optimistic that Paul's plan will be given serious consideration by our Community Board, City Planning Commission, the Borough President, the City Council and the Mayor to become a reality in the very near future.

Zoning loopholes

We must work towards closing the many loopholes in the present zoning laws. By using these loopholes builders are able to construct buildings with more floor area than was intended by the original architects of the zoning laws. For example, Certain rooms designated as playrooms are not included in the total floor area of a building nor does the floor space below a ceiling that is tapered down so that it is less than eight feet high for up to two feet at the edge of the room. These two loopholes alone can increase the size of a home in a residential area by a sizeable amount. I once saw a case where most of the first floor of a one family home was designated as the playroom. Its floor area was not included as part of the .50 FAR (floor area ratio) allowed in an R2 zone. It's not hard to imagine this space becoming rentable living space by a dishonest property owner. These are but a few of the problems that have to be fixed to prevent abuse of our zoning loopholes.

Community Facilities in residential neighborhoods

Community facilities include dentists' and doctors' offices, hospitals, day care centers, houses of worship, schools, etc. The present zoning law allows such facilities to exist "As of right" within residential communities. "As of right" means that they can establish a facility without the approval of any city agency......they have the right to exist and there are no laws whatsoever that they have to use as a guide. Community facilities however, are supposed to be guided by the building code specifications for allowable floor area, setback, side and rear yards, etc. Special consideration is often given when a community facility asks for a special permit or variance so it is important that those who can be affected by a change in such a facility be attentive and appear at public hearings if such a zoning request is made. Officers or other representatives of the Kissena Park Civic Association attend and speak at all such public hearings that concern our community.

Over the past decade, many new religous groups have come into our country and have sought to establish houses of worship in our residential communities through the conversion of private homes. The result of such conversions has already proven devastating to the way of life to those living near these newly "converted" homes. They now are inundated with crowded streets, noise, traffic congestion, inability to park near their own homes and a sudden and permanent loss in the value of their property. In some communities the percentage of houses of worship are becoming overwhelming with no relief in sight. Since religous facilities don't pay real estate taxes, the homeowner must help make up the loss to the tax base by paying higher real estate taxes. If this situation goes unchecked, it will become unaffordable to live in New York City.

Up to now most elected officials have been afraid to even mention the subject of applying controls to these types of community facilities in residential neighborhoods. The time for action is now, while there is still something left to save. If our elected officials want to keep their jobs they must listen to this cry for change! This includes everyone from our city council to our mayor as well as our state senators and members of the state assembly. On january 14, 2000 Community Board 7 passed a resolution that would govern the establishment of certain types of community facilities to protect the character of residential communities; but up to now no one has listened. Encourage our elected officials to be brave and honest enough to face a problem that must eventually be resolved. Let them know that you will only vote for them if they are willing to address this issue. We already have the campaign promises of John Liu, our new councilman for district 20, that he will fight to change the laws regarding the establishment of community facilities in residential neighborhoods. John's own community in North Flushing has all but been destroyed by these types of facilities.

Posted by joeamoroso on 03/05/2002
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