By Lynn Edmonds
The Landmark Preservation Commission is holding a meeting Thursday to discuss whether the Douglaston Historic District in Douglas Manor should be extended.
The public hearing is part of an effort to clear the commission’s 95-property backlog, which has left some homeowners in limbo when it come to renovating their house.
On Monday, the New York Times drew attention to the local issue with an article describing conflict – that became ugly – among area residents over whether the designation would be a boon to their neighborhood.
The Douglaston Historic District was created in 1997 and includes over 600 homes. The proposed extension includes about 22 buildings, immediately south of the present historic district.
The commission says that the area is historic for the buildings’ architectural quality and because they “recall the transformation of the community from the large farms and estates to smaller farms and later to the suburban-style community that it is today.”
Paul Graziano, urban planner and proponent of the Historic District extension, said that the area under consideration should have been part of the historic district all along.
“This was never supposed to have been left out in the first place,” he said. “The fact that this was left out was extremely arbitrary.”
At the time of the original designation, the landmark status had both popular and political support, he added.
Now some say the majority of residents are against it, and Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) did not support landmark status on that basis, Graziano said.
Graziano argued, however, that if one counted household by household, rather than building by building, most were for the designation.
Because the “limbo” of awaiting historic designation from the LPC can put stress on homeowners, Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) sponsored a bill to establish a maximum period of time that a site could be under consideration by the commission. That bill is currently under consideration by the Land Use Committee.
The public hearing on the historic district extension will take place from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. at the commission’s office, located at 1 Centre St., 9th Floor, in Manhattan. Other Queens items include the Old Calvary Cemetery Gatehouse, the Fairway Apartments, Spanish Towers, Lydia Ann Bell and J. Williams Ahles House, the Pepsi Cola Sign, the First Reformed Church and Sunday School of College Point, and the Bowne Street Community Church.
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana