Queens Chronicle

C.B. 6 votes in favor of Forest Hills zoning plan

by Ben Hogwood, Assistant Editor

Austin Street in Forest Hills has transformed from automotive uses to a vibrant commercial hub. (photo by Ben Hogwood)

Community Board 6 recommended approving a cumulative rezoning plan on Oct. 22 to protect the current commercial nature of parts of Forest Hills.

The plan, which received only a handful of no-votes, will limit the height of buildings, particularly along bustling Austin Street, with the heights staggered as they move toward Queens Boulevard.

The goal of the project is to preserve the lively shopping atmosphere of the neighborhood. In the 1960s, the city zoned much of the Austin Street area to reflect the prevalence of automotive uses, including repair shops and gas stations. Since then, many of those businesses have transformed into successful retail businesses and restaurants.

The current zoning could allow a 15-story residential structure to go up in an area surrounded by these two-story businesses.

“I think it is necessary,” Leslie Brown, the president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, said about the plan. However, she said the proposal could be loosened somewhat to allow a little more development, as there are currently buildings in the area taller than what would be allowed under the new plan.

If the city approves, the buildings on the south side of Austin Street will be limited to 40 feet, or three stories, while buildings on the north would be limited to 70 feet, or six stories.

The district would allow the staggering of building heights as buildings moves north from Austin Street toward Queens Boulevard, where they would be able to reach 150 feet.

The proposal now goes to the borough president for a recommendation before moving on to the city Planning Commission, and finally the City Council.

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