JPCA has discovered that last year's downzoning of parts of Maspeth and Middle Village has had no effect on buildings permits issued in our communities. Architects and engineers are still getting away with self-certifying building plans that do not conform with the new zoning criteria because the DOB is approving them based on the old zoning. DOB says that the Department of City Planning never informed them about our zoning change. City Planning says that DOB receives regular updates about zoning changes. Meanwhile, City Planning's website contains maps showing both the old and new zoning.
While these two agencies are trying to get on the same page, our neighborhoods are being destroyed.
Take, for example, the now infamous Huang house at 57-39 Mazeau Street in Maspeth. Zoning for that area was changed from R4 to R4-1. The new zoning classification allows no more than a 2-family house. R4-1 went into effect in June of 2006. Plans for a 3-family house were submitted by Huang's architect and were approved by DOB in September 2006.
Community Board 5 was notified about the issue at their last meeting and is also looking into it.
This problem is not exclusive to our community. Bob Harris, president of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association, reported in their last newsletter:
“I just received an e-mail from the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Association. We were rezoned together to R2A from R2. They warned me that another house has construction plans which say it is an R2 zone yet we changed it to R2A on April 5, 2006. Under R2A, one can still add rooms but just don't get that free extra floor under the old R2 which permitted those McMansions which are just too big for our communities.”
One of JPCA's board members, Cathie Sumsky, sent us this piece of evidence: “The Notice Of Property Value Statement I received dated January 15, 2007, states the old zoning of R5. It should be R4-1. DOB should correct their system as soon as possible. It has been incorrect for too long.”
A serious Queens-wide problem exists within the Buildings Department and it needs to be resolved immediately!