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Queens CB2 Rejects Affordable Housing Plan Citing Overcrowding Concerns

 Queens CB2 is worried about the area's infrastructure, including overcrowded subways and schools.
Queens CB2 is worried about the area's infrastructure, including overcrowded subways and schools.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

LONG ISLAND CITY — Queens Community Board 2 shot down the city's proposals to create more affordable housing through two zoning changes out of concern that the plan would strain the district's public facilities including schools and subways.

The board voted to reject two citywide zoning text amendments — Zoning for Quality and Affordability and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing — which the Department of City Planning has proposed to foster the production of more affordable units.

Community members particularly took aim at the fact that no simultaneous plan was created to address the overcrowding already happening in the area, including in doctor's offices, schools and other community spaces, CB2 Chairman Pat O'Brien said.

"We have already been in a situation where we are dramatically underserved," he said.

While the board supports the city's mission to create more affordable housing, they "have to look at the potential for the unintentional consequences," O'Brien said.

"You'd wind up with people in affordable housing who are very pleased they have the opportunity to enjoy it, until they realize they can't get on the subway, they cant get to a doctor and they can't find a school to send their kids," he explained.

City officials have been presenting the zoning proposals at community boards across the city since September, and the plans are just two facets of the de Blasio administration's larger housing goals for the next decade.

The first proposal, the Zoning for Quality and Affordability, aims to upgrade a number of existing zoning rules that the city considers outdated, including increasing the maximum height of buildings in certain areas in order to facilitate better designs, or to better accommodate affordable and senior housing, according to City Planning.

The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing plan would require developers who build in specific zoned neighborhoods to include a portion of permanently affordable units as part of the project.

If approved, the proposal could eventually be applied to Long Island City, as the city is studying the area for a potential rezoning sometime in the future.

The issue with infrastructure, or lack of services, in CB2 — which includes Long Island City, Woodside and Sunnyside — is an ongoing issue for the district, with many residents worried that local resources are not keeping up with the area's growing population.

"This neighborhood has seen growth like no other neighborhood in New York City," one resident said during a public meeting about the city's zoning plans in September. "I think with that kind of growth you have growing pains; I think we have growing intensive care problems in this neighborhood right now."

In an email, City Planning spokesman Joe Marvilli pointed out that while the Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposal might allow for taller buildings in some places, it would not increase the density, or number of units allowed within those buildings.

As for the rezoned neighborhoods where the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing plan would go into effect, each would undergo a full public review process as part of that rezoning, he said.

"We are aware of the community’s concerns about infrastructure and transit needs and plan to address them through the Long Island City Core Study," Marvilli said, referring to the city's neighborhood planning study for the area, the first step in a potential rezoning.

After the two zoning proposals are reviewed by each community board, they will be considered by each borough president, the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

Neighboring Queens Community Board 1 — which oversees Astoria, parts of Long Island City and Woodside — was set to hold a hearing on the zoning amendments Tuesday night.