BY JON CRONIN
Southwest Queens’ oceanside communities are getting the needed rezoning and flooding abatement project they requested from the New York City Department of City Planning.
Last week, Community Board 10 voted unanimously to approve the resiliency project that includes the three communities—Old Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel—that sit on the shoreline of Jamaica Bay.
“Is it gonna solve everything?” asked Betty Braton, chairwoman of CB 10. “No, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Braton explained that there would be similar projects for the region in the future, but City Planning decided that it was prudent to separate this project from the others as it is more time sensitive.
“Our work includes a citywide flood resilience zoning text amendment that changes zoning in the floodplain to make it easier and more cost-effective for property owners to retrofit buildings,” wrote City Planning Director Carl Weisbrod in a foreword to the plan. “We have also produced guidelines—such as retrofitting buildings for flood risk and urban waterfront adaptive strategies— that help designers, planners and residents plan for and adapt to the risks of flooding.”
Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, said that the Department of City Planning first approached the civic association and asked what its members wanted for their community. He said that the agency listened and came back with a plan that suited local residents.
In Hamilton Beach, there has been a recent uptick in the construction of semidetached homes that Gendron said do not fit the character of the neighborhood.
“Now, they are popping up all over the place and they don’t fit the character,” he said. “We want just one- and two-family homes in the neighborhood.”
He explained that overpopulation is a problem for such a flood-prone area.
“Hamilton Beach has only one way in and out,” he said. “God forbid there is another emergency. It will be hard to evacuate that many people; it would be virtually impossible.”
Gendron noted that in relation to the project, his civic association has considered the rise in sea level, storm water infrastructure and the difference between side-yard requirements for semidetached homes and one- or two-family houses.
“We don’t want to see Hamilton beach overdeveloped,” he said. “Infrastructure is stressed to the max right now.”
He said that on-street parking is another serious issue in Hamilton Beach.
“Even one-family homes have three cars,” he said. “We’d rather leave well enough alone. We don’t want to see development stop. But have correct side yards; put up a two-family.”
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.