From the Queens Tribune:
An incoming Broadway-Flushing house is raising alarm for neighbors, who fear that the eight-bedroom, 10-bathroom structure is not in character with the neighborhood.
Neighbors became concerned that the building’s occupancy had changed after learning that the original plans, which called for a single-family house, had been amended. State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and urban planner and City Council candidate Paul Graziano gathered dozens of residents last Thursday for a press conference outside the structure, located at 33-05 157th St., as work was proceeding behind a green construction fence. Avella called on the DOB to release the amended plans, which residents say have been kept from public view.
Janet McCreesh, president of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association, said that she had hired an expediter to get the plans from Queens Borough Hall but was unsuccessful after three attempts. After that, McCreesh turned to Avella’s office, who received them the Tuesday after the press conference.
The DOB told the Queens Tribune that the single-family status of the house did not change in the amended plans. According to the DOB, the amended plans, which were approved by the department as being in compliance with the city’s Zoning Resolution and Construction Codes, show only minor changes, replacing some of the proposed bathtubs with standup showers. The DOB also added that while it wasn’t sure why there could have been delays in the expediter’s attempts to get the plans, all permitted construction plans are publicly available for viewing at its Queens borough office.
Residents pointed to the house as part of a growing trend of new construction threatening the neighborhood’s character. In recent years, residents have taken steps to try to prevent out-of-character development. In 2006, Broadway-Flushing was listed as a historic district on the national and state registers of historic places, but residents said that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has yet to give the neighborhood landmark status, which would offer more protections from development.
Avella used the press conference to push legislation he has introduced that would allow neighborhoods to create “architectural districts” to ensure that new construction conforms to “the character of the neighborhood.” The bill would offer neighborhoods protections from certain developments, even if they do not have landmark status. Avella introduced the legislation last year, but it did not pass.
Graziano said that, if elected, he would introduce identical legislation in the City Council, as well as a second bill that would make it mandatory for all building plans to be scanned in online, onto the DOB’s public Building Information System.
“This is an area in particular [that] has status—it has status as a historic district; it has status as a deed-restricted neighborhood; it has status as one of the lowest zoning categories, the most restrictive zoning categories in the city—and we still are getting this kind of development,” Graziano said.