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PROPOSED REZONING OF MUCH OF WESTMORELAND COMMUNITY
FROM �R2" TO �R2A�
At the Westmoreland Association�s March 21, 2005 Annual Meeting,
the membership voted unanimously to request that those areas in our community
currently zoned �R2" be rezoned by the City of New York to the new �R2A�
classification. This rezoning will help preserve the character of our
neighborhood and our high property values, by preventing over-development with
excessively large houses (sometimes called �McMansions�).
Make Your Views Known
Details about the proposal are set out below. We urge you to make your views about the proposal known much of our community from the current �R2" to the new �R2A� designation. Write to:
Hon. Amanda Burden
New York City Department of City Planning
22 Reade Street ,
New York, NY 10007-1216
E-mail: go to http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/dcp/home.html , then click on �Contact the Chair�
Hon. Tony Avella
Chair, Zoning Committee
New York City Council
38_50 Bell Boulevard, Suite C
Bayside, NY 11361
Description of the Proposal
Detailed Information about the R2A zone is available on the New York City Planning Department�s website at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/bayside/bayside3b.html That site describes a rezoning proposal for portions of Bayside, which became final in April, 2005. Similar rezoning has been proposed for portions of College Point and Whitestone, and is being considered for portions of Little Neck and Douglaston.
The proposal creates a new residential zoning district, R2A, which can be mapped in appropriate areas. The new district maintains the general use, density and lot configuration requirements as set forth in the current R2 district. Development would still be limited to single-family detached residences, but it would be subject to different floor area, height and setback, and lot coverage regulations to better protect against inappropriate development. These are the principal components of the proposed change:
� New Floor Area Regulations Regarding the Exemption of Lowest-Floor Space that Includes a Garage: Under current R2 provisions, space on the lowest floor of a house may be deducted from zoning floor area if it meets certain defined criteria, such as whether it contains a garage. Maximum use of this allowance has resulted in new buildings substantially larger than surrounding ones, and clearly not matching the traditional neighborhood context. The proposed R2A designation would include revised floor area definitions and allowances to limit the amount of deductible square footage for a floor containing a garage. Using guidelines adapted from the recent Lower-Density Growth Management initiative, the new R2A designation would allow the exemption of only the floor area used for the garage, and only up to a maximum of 300 square feet � either for a garage in the house itself or as a separate garage building on the same lot.
� New Height, Setback and Yard Regulations: Under the current R2 designation, building bulk is determined in part by the zoning district�s height and setback regulations. Current regulations allow a front wall height of 25 feet, at a distance of 15 feet from the front property line. The maximum height of the front wall and the maximum overall building height are determined by the Sky Exposure Plane, which starts at a height of 25 feet and rises one foot vertically for each foot the front wall or building portion is set back from the front yard line. No absolute maximum height is established. These height and setback provisions have resulted in new buildings substantially out-of-scale with surrounding ones in terms of building size and profile. The proposed R2A district would include revised height and setback regulations to reduce the maximum height of any building wall to 21 feet. At a height of 21 feet, sloping planes would project inward from all sides of a structure, up to an absolute maximum of 35 feet at the ridgeline. In addition, under the proposed R2A designation, one minimum 20-foot side yard would be required on all corner lots.
� New Floor Area Restrictions and Lot Coverage Regulations: Under the current R2 regulations, floor area calculations permit the deduction of any attic floor space where the ceiling height is less than eight feet. This encourages roofs with a lower slope, and has also resulted in new buildings substantially out-of-scale with surrounding ones in terms of building size and profile. As originally planned, the R2A proposal set a 20 percent limit as the maximum amount of exempt square footage beneath a pitched roof. This exemption has been eliminated, along with other floor area exemptions generally allowed for residences including mechanical equipment, such as boilers and HVAC, and bulkheads for stairs and elevators. Lot coverage limits would be established at a maximum of 30 percent, which would include any separate garage structure on the lot.
Implications for the Westmoreland Community
The majority of the Westmoreland community is located within Queens County, and is therefore subject to New York City zoning rules. Nearly all of the Queens portion of the Westmoreland community is currently zoned R2. The Westmoreland Association, based on a unanimous vote of the membership at its March 21, 2005 meeting, is requesting that the City rezone all current R2 areas to the new R2A designation.
See the Westmoreland area map to identify those portions of our community that would be affected by the requested rezoning. The diagonal line across the top of the map represents the border between Queens and Nassau Counties. The area below that line is in Queens; most of that area is currently zoned R2. (Exceptions include the south side of 44th Street between Little Neck Parkway and Westmoreland; all the properties fronting on Northern Boulevard; and some of the properties near or fronting on Little Neck Parkway between 39th Avenue and 41st Drive.)
� Existing Conforming Structures: Existing structures that conform to the limits of the new R2A zone would be unaffected by its adoption. Further additions to such structures would, of course, have to continue to conform to the new zoning rules. The R2A rules would allow extensions or additions to be built on many � probably most � of the existing houses in the Westmoreland community.
� Existing Non-conforming Structures: If a structure in existence at the time the new R2A zone takes effect is �non-conforming� � that is, if it exceeds the size limits of the new R2A zone � it would be �grandfathered� and no changes would be required. However, further additions to the structure would be permitted only in conformance with the new zoning rules.
� Property Values: There is no way to predict future property values. However, property values in the Westmoreland community have been high for many years, and there is every reason to believe this situation will continue after � and will in fact be enhanced by � rezoning from R2 to R2A. Our property values are high because of the many benefits of this neighborhood: the best school district in New York City; close proximity of the Long Island Railroad; many nearby stores and restaurants; attractive, traditional architecture; and beautiful tree-lined streets with the open vistas ensured by our protective covenants (which require a 20-foot setback and which prohibit fences in the front). Those elements will not change under the rezoning proposal. It is likely that some properties could command a slightly higher sale price from a developer under the existing R2 zone than they could command immediately after rezoning to R2A. However, this difference is likely to be both minimal and transitory, soon being overshadowed by general increases in property values in this community.