Tag Archives: Councilmember Eric Ulrich

Star of Queens: Fran Goulston, founding member, co-chair, Lindenwood Alliance


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Fran Goulston

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Fran Goulston is a founding member and co-chair of the Lindenwood Alliance, a civic association that addresses problems in the community of Lindenwood.

BACKGROUND: Ultimately, what got Goulston involved in founding the Lindenwood Alliance was hearing about people having issues.

“I knew Joann Ariola and Christina Gold, and they were telling me about starting this group and I thought it was an important organization to join,” said Goulston.

GOALS:  Some of Goulston’s goals for the organization would be to help people in the community feel like they are heard.  “I believe the goal of the group is that if community members have a problem they can voice their [concerns, as] there are always delegates and police at our meetings listening in hopes of correcting any of the problems that arise.”

FAVORITE MEMORY:  One of the best things Goulston said she took away from being a part of this organization is getting to know the politicians “I really wasn’t into politics before becoming a part of the Lindenwood Alliance, and I really didn’t know much about politics either, and between Councilmember Eric Ulrich and Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder, which I adore, it opened my eyes to different politicians and what they offer.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: According to Goulston the biggest challenge is getting more of the community involved.

-KATELYN DI SALVO

 

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City Council passes Ozone Park rezoning


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the office of Councilmember Eric Ulrich

The City Council passed a change in Ozone Park’s zoning map Tuesday to reflect the neighborhood’s building patterns.

Now, the zoning mandates will reinforce the area’s one- and-two-family residential homes and direct new residential and mixed-use developments to more commercial locations.

“The new zoning enacted into law today will protect Ozone Park from overdevelopment and help create a more livable neighborhood,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich, who was born and raised in Ozone Park.

“It will also spur new modest development, especially in the commercial districts, thereby creating jobs and increasing property values,” he continued.

The rezoning is bounded by Rockaway Boulevard, Atlantic Avenue and 101st Avenue to the north; the Van Wyck Expressway and Lefferts Boulevard to the east; the Belt Parkway to the south; and the Brooklyn borough line to the west.

This marks the second largest rezoning in Queens, changing the map for roughly 530 blocks in Ozone Park. The vote was prompted by concerns from Community Boards 9 and 10 as well as local civic organizations and elected officials.

“Out of character structures and overdevelopment has become far too common in our communities,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills. “That is why it was important that we undertook these aggressive measures to protect the integrity of our neighborhoods.”

 

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Board of Elections certifies Ulrich victory


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

Nearly a month after voters cast their ballots, City Councilmember Eric Ulrich has been certified by the Board of Elections (BOE) as the official victor in the race for District 32.

The Republican beat his opponent, District Leader Lew Simon, with 10,488 votes compared to Simon’s 9,080, a difference of 1,408 votes, according to the BOE certification report.

Immediately following the general election on November 5, both candidates declared victory.

However, as more votes rolled in, Ulrich was unofficially named the winner by the BOE and various media outlets.

But Simon did not concede and instead wished to wait until all absentee ballots were counted.

Since Election night, however, Ulrich and his camp believed the number of absentee ballots would not outnumber the difference in votes, and the incumbent’s return to office was ensured.

Simon said despite the outcome, he is “very proud of the race that I ran.”

“I’m still a Democratic leader. I’m very proud to always be there to help the people,” he said.

The close race was reminiscent of the 2009 City Council District 32 Special Election in which Ulrich and Simon faced off against each other. At that time, Simon held on but the councilmember came out on top.

 

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Mayor Bloomberg signs building code bills


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Eric Ulrich

Living and working in Queens flood zones will be safer thanks to new building codes and zoning resolutions recently signed into law.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed several bills intended to strengthen the city’s infrastructure on November 20. Councilmember Eric Ulrich sponsored one bill he hopes will ensure that future construction meets “the highest level of resilience.”

Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are the official flood maps which FEMA utilized to detail areas of special flood hazard, base flood elevation, flood boundary and floodways.

This new legislation, along with new building codes, requires FEMA to use FIRMs as the baseline standard moving forward when building. The bill references them as the “best available flood maps.”

“Until now, many property owners in flood zones were unsure about how they should rebuild. By adopting these maps, we will allow homeowners and residents affected by Hurricane Sandy the opportunity to rebuild their communities stronger and more storm resilient,” Ulrich said.

 

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Lew Simon still not conceding District 32 race


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Left photo by Maggie Hayes / Right photo courtesy of Lew Simon's campaign

The race for City Council District 32 has yet to be certified, and candidate Lew Simon is still holding onto the possibility of a victory.

Following Election Day, the Board of Elections’ (BOE) unofficial results show the incumbent, Councilmember Eric Ulrich, winning by 1,138 votes on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines.

Democrat Lew Simon received almost 47 percent of the vote, compared to Ulrich’s roughly 53 percent.

However, Simon’s camp said he does not plan on conceding until all remaining absentee ballots are counted, and the race is BOE certified.

The BOE did not have an official timeline for certification, but according to unofficial results, the remaining ballots should not outnumber the standing difference.

Ulrich said he has yet to get a concession call in any race, including 2009’s Special Election, also against Simon.

“Simon hasn’t conceded to me since 2009. I’m still waiting for that phone call,” he said.

 

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106th Precinct gets backup


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office Of Councilmember Eric Ulrich

Backup is here, as the 106th Precinct added 16 new cops recently.

“They are a most welcomed addition to the community and we are very happy to have them,” said Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, the precinct’s Commanding Officer.

The precinct, which encompasses Ozone Park, Lindenwood and Howard Beach, has experienced an increase in car thefts and break-ins, which are up more than 65 percent from last year, according to the most recent NYPD crime statistics. Crime overall is up 20 percent.

However, the experienced new officers are ready to hit the ground running. Schiff said during their precinct orientation. They will be addressed by various community members and hear firsthand what concerns they have.

“We expect that they will quickly absorb the local flavor and perform admirably, making all of us proud,” he said.

The community and local elected officials have voiced both a need and a desire for more resources for the precinct. The NYPD team has struggled with limited resources and increasing concerns from residents, said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, who assisted in the push.

“More officers and a stronger police presence are necessary to combat rising crime statistics,” Goldfeder said. “More visibility on our streets will keep the community safe and strong.”

Additionally, Councilmember Eric Ulrich paid a visit to the new crew and is “so pleased that we are finally getting additional officers that we have been fighting for for so long,” he said.

“They will to a long way in keeping our community safe,” he added.

 

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Queens incumbents sweep re-election bids


| editorial@queenscourier.com

LIAM LA GUERRE AND MELISSA CHAN 

All Queens City Council incumbents slid back into their seats after Election Day, some very comfortably, while others overcame contentious races.

In District 32, which pitted Republican incumbent Eric Ulrich against Democrat Lew Simon, the race came right down to the wire. Ulrich was eventually declared the winner with 53 percent of the vote to Simon’s 47, but the challenger has not yet conceded defeated.   

In another contentious race, incumbent Elizabeth Crowley of District 30 won 59 percent of the vote against political newbie Craig Caruana, who took 41 percent. Caruana gained support following an endorsement by mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and a fierce debate with Crowley.

Popular Democratic incumbents Peter Koo of District 20, Karen Koslowitz in District 29 and Mark Weprin of District 23 easily won their re-election bids this year after facing off with third-party candidates.

Koo swept his opponents — Evergreen Chou, Martha Flores-Vasquez and Sunny Hahn — by obtaining nearly 80 percent of the vote, according to a preliminary count. Koslowitz beat Jon Torodash, who ran on the Civic Virtue line, by more than a 90 percent margin.

Weprin, a contender for City Council Speaker, beat back a late challenge from retired police captain Joseph Concannon by taking 84 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

Concannon, who was running under the Reform Party, began a pointed bid against Weprin on August 8, with numerous police union backings, soon after the incumbent voted in support of two controversial police oversight bills in the Council.

South Queens Democratic incumbents Ruben Wills of District 28 and Donovan Richards of District 31 also dominated their races.

Wills won more than 95 percent of votes over his challenger, Mireille Leroy, while Richards, who won a special election less than a year ago, took about 92 percent of votes.

Three Queens legislators ran uncontested in both the primary and general elections. Julissa Ferreras of District 21, Danny Dromm of District 25 and Jimmy Van Bramer in District 26 were all automatically re-elected.

 

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City Council District 32 candidates Ulrich, Simon look ahead to Election Day


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photos

The heated race for City Council District 32 is coming to a close.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich, the incumbent, has represented District 32 in the City Council since 2009. He stood with Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill and Woodhaven through natural disasters and hard-pressed community issues.

“I am proud of my campaign and my work in the City Council over the past four-and-a-half years. I am running on my record of accomplishments and my ability to deliver real results for my constituents,” Ulrich said.

However, Lew Simon has not been far behind. He said he worked tirelessly through Sandy to ensure the safety of the district.

“The support we’re getting on our calls and door to door campaigning is phenomenal – people want change and they don’t feel like they’re being represented in City Hall on issues from schools to street lights to Sandy rebuilding,” Simon said.

Simon suffered a setback earlier this month when he received a stent due to partial heart blockage. He now said he’s spending every day “making sure every voter turns out” on Election Day.

 

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Turner, Ragusa both claim victory to lead Queens GOP


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

The Queens Republican Party civil war is not over, and Phil Ragusa did not reclaim his throne yet, his opponents say.

Both Ragusa and former Congressmember Bob Turner have declared themselves winners in the election to head the Queens GOP after a six hour contentious meeting on September 27.

According to Party officials, Ragusa won re-election as chair by 52 percent of votes cast by district leaders and state committee members. His challenger, Turner, garnered about 48 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

But Councilmember Eric Ulrich, an outspoken critic of Ragusa, said Turner in fact had higher tallies than reported and had the support of “a clear majority” of voters.

There was no independent monitor in the room to count the votes, he said, and the Party’s leadership had thrown out valid proxies.

“The county’s members are using fuzzy math,” Ulrich said. “Their attempts to disqualify the proxy votes of duly elected county committee members are shameful. When every single vote is counted, it is clear that Bob Turner is the chairman.”

Both Turner and Ragusa have submitted certificates of election with the state and city Board of Elections.
Ragusa released a statement, saying he had been declared the “clear winner.”

“I am honored and humbled by the show of support given to me by Queens County Committee and State Committee members,” he said. “I will continue to lead the party honorably and faithfully and will work to unify the party so that the

Queens GOP continues to grow and become even stronger in the future.”

Turner said he was confident court litigations over the next few weeks would find him victorious.

“We know we won,” Turner said. “This is going to have to be solved at a different level.”

A similar internal battle occurred in 2011, when both Ragusa and former Councilmember Tom Ognibene claimed victory, though Ognibene was later defeated.

Ulrich, an insurgent of the Queens GOP, has long called for Turner to take over Party leadership, especially after a bombshell corruption scandal emerged this April.

Queens GOP Vice Chair Vince Tabone and Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran were among a handful of officials indicted in a bribery scheme to get Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith on the GOP mayoral primary ticket.

Shortly after Tabone resigned from his post, more than a dozen Republican State Committee members wrote Ragusa a letter, asking him to step down, too, and allow Turner to take over.

The county boss, who was not accused of any wrongdoing, stayed on and won re-election earlier this month to his district leader post, beating back challenger and Ulrich ally Sal Bacarella.

Others elected to the Queens GOP include Robert Beltrani as executive vice chair and James McClelland as first vice chair. McClelland served as chief of staff to Councilmember Peter Koo and recently left to work for State Senator Simcha Felder.

 

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Tudor Village voters granted poll site switch in time for general election


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The good fight was won, and a poll site switch will give residents an easier travel route straight to the ballots.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich wrote to the Board of Elections (BOE) in September on behalf of Tudor Village voters, whose poll site was switched from P.S. 63 in Ozone Park to P.S. 232 in Lindenwood.

“The Board of Elections should be making it easier, not harder, for people to vote,” Ulrich said.

In order to get to P.S. 232, Tudor Village residents would have to cross the Belt Parkway. Ulrich said this task is “nearly impossible” without a car, and since the change was made, voter turnout from the area had decreased and “residents remain concerned about their ability to make it to the polls in the future.”

Michael Ryan, BOE executive director, responded to Ulrich and said these voters will be assigned to vote at J.H.S. 202 in Ozone Park, just in time for the November general election.

“This change will certainly be more convenient and will enhance the safety of the voters as they will no longer be required to cross a busy thoroughfare to exercise their right to vote,” Ryan said.

J.H.S. 202 is less than a mile from Tudor Village’s initial P.S. 63 poll site.

“I am pleased that the BOE was able to accommodate the residents of Tudor Village. By making it easier for them to exercise their right to vote, we are ensuring that every voice can be heard on Election Day,” Ulrich said.

 

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Residents protest flood insurance hikes


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Skyrocketing flood insurance rates could “do more to destroy the community than any storm has ever done,” say hundreds of residents who came out to protest the looming costs.

In July 2012, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which called on agencies such as FEMA to change the way the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is run.

Through the act, the NFIP will be required to raise flood rates to reflect “true flood risk” for a policyholder, according to FEMA.

“They say it’s going to be $400 this year, and $12,000 next year,” said Dorothy McClusky, a 33-year Howard Beach resident. “If the insurance rates go up that high, we’ll have to move.”

Residents said that over time, their rates could get as high as $30,000 a year.

Rallies protesting the price hikes were held nationwide on September 28. In the borough, people from Breezy Point, Rockaway Beach, Belle Harbor, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach and Broad Channel packed tightly into Broad Channel’s American Legion to participate.

“We’re brought together by a common thread of this outrageous legislation,” said Dan Mundy, Jr., president of the Broad Channel Civic Association. “[This act] basically will decimate your biggest savings.”

“FEMA is the agency that is going to enact this. FEMA also couldn’t find this island for two weeks [after Sandy],” Mundy said, met by resounding cheers.

The act will over time eliminate all subsidized flood insurance rates for those in participating areas and can increase those rates by two to 10 times their current cost over a five-year period, according to Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s office.

New FEMA flood maps additionally place many more residents into Zone A and Zone AE – Biggert-Waters designated areas.

“Areas that have never flooded will now be required to carry flood insurance,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association. “Homes would become virtually unsellable.”

Last week, the City Council passed a resolution calling upon Congress to amend the legislation.

“Sandy was a 700-year storm event,” Mundy said. “Nature took its best shot at us, but we were able to stay here.”

“We didn’t survive the 700-year storm to be destroyed by FEMA,” he said.

FEMA did not wish to comment.

 

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City Council passes condo, co-op resolution


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

The City Council has unanimously passed a resolution calling for Congress to make co-op and condos eligible for federal storm recovery grants.

“Condo and co-op owners are homeowners too,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. who brought forth the measure. “Yet, right now, the federal government is denying them Sandy relief. That needs to change.”

The resolution, introduced September 12, comes after many citywide co-op and condo owners found they could not receive FEMA grants for Sandy-inflicted damages.

The measure sailed through the City Council less than two weeks later on September 24. The Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings moved the resolution forward earlier that morning.

It would push the passage of an already proposed federal law that aims to fix a glitch keeping co-op and condo owners from disaster aid.

The Stafford Act, which governs how FEMA responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, officials said.

However, there is no statute that bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.

Co-op and condos are also categorized as “business associations,” which makes them eligible for federal loans but not grants. It also means they cannot get funds to fix shared spaces like lobbies and roofs.

Congressmember Steve Israel introduced a law in August that would better define co-ops in the Stafford Act, allow co-op and condo owners to apply for FEMA grants, and call for a new cap on FEMA’s Individual and Households Program.

The proposed legislation currently sits in a subcommittee on the House’s Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Warren Schreiber of the Presidents Co-op & Condo Council said the resolution would be used as a bully pulpit to boost federal efforts.

“They can send that on to the congressional delegation,” he said. “That would make a big difference.”

Some Queens co-ops, like Glen Oaks Village, sustained more than $250,000 in damage to infrastructure, according to the co-op’s president Bob Friedrich.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich, who represents some of the most Sandy-devastated areas, said co-op and condo communities in the Rockaways are facing “astronomical” renovation costs that exceed $250,000.

Ulrich was the sponsor of another resolution passed by the City Council this week that calls for Congress to amend a federal act to minimize the burden of flood insurance premium rate increases on homeowners.

Vallone will now urge Congress, in a letter, to enact the federal bill.

 

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Ozone Park could be home to new pedestrian plaza


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes / Renderings courtesy of the DOT

A pedestrian plaza could be coming to an area of Ozone Park the Department of Transportation (DOT) said is under-utilized and in need of more open space.

The Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Service (BACDYS) applied to create a plaza at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 101st Avenue near Drew Street, just on the Brooklyn-Queens border.

The plan already has the support of Brooklyn Community Board (CB) 5, as well as area businesses in both boroughs and local elected officials, including Councilmember Eric Ulrich, according to the DOT. Community Board (CB) 9 will vote on the proposal next month.

 

“The project would provide additional open space, serving pedestrians and customers of local businesses,” said a DOT spokesperson.

However, reservations still exist for CB 9.

The plaza would close off the Drew Street through-way from 101st Avenue to Liberty Avenue and would also change both streets from two-way to one-way. Eleven parking spots would also be lost.

Mary Ann Carey, CB 9’s district manager, said these are the “biggest issues” for the board.

“Why didn’t they choose a much a much larger plaza,” she asked, pointing to the space near Elderts Lane and Liberty Avenue just a few blocks down.

She continued that now the board is “just fact finding” and preparing for next month’s vote.

The DOT said this particular proposed area has an active retail business and existing open space, and is being under-utilized.

If approved, BACDYS would be responsible for the upkeep of the public plaza, which anyone can visit and also apply to hold events.

The plaza, whose cost was unclear as of press time, would be made up of gravel, granite blocks, planters, flexible delineators, movable tables and chairs, benches, permanent bench seating and bike parking, similar to other city plazas.

After the CB 9 vote, the DOT projects a potential implementation in late September. Public outreach for a permanent plaza design would then begin in the spring of 2014.

 

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Resolution calls for co-op, condo storm recovery grants


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A Queens lawmaker introduced a resolution in the City Council last week calling for Congress to make co-op and condos eligible for federal storm recovery grants.

The measure, brought forth by Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., comes after many citywide co-op and condo owners found they could not receive FEMA grants for Sandy-inflicted damages.

It would push the passage of an already proposed federal law that aims to fix a glitch keeping co-op and condo owners from disaster aid.

The Stafford Act, which governs how FEMA responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, officials said. However, there is no statute that bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.

Co-op and condos are also categorized as “business associations,” which makes them eligible for federal loans but not grants. It also means they cannot get funds to fix shared spaces like lobbies and roofs.

“Co-ops and condos are not corporations — they are people’s homes,” Vallone said. “They deserve the same assistance as other homeowners.”

Congressmember Steve Israel introduced a law in August that would better define co-ops in the Stafford Act and allow co-op and condo owners to apply for FEMA grants.

It would also call for a new cap on FEMA’s Individual and Households Program.

A spokesperson for Israel said the bipartisan bill has 14 cosponsors so far, including Republican Congressmember Peter King, who represents parts of Long Island.

The proposed legislation currently sits in a subcommittee on the House’s Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

While a resolution is only a formal position statement, Vallone said he hopes it will “show that the city speaks with one voice for fairness” for co-op and condo owners.

The disaster aid is needed in Queens, local leaders said, where co-op and condo communities are digging into reserves to fund fixes.

Some Queens co-ops, like Glen Oaks Village, sustained more than $250,000 in damage to infrastructure, according to the co-op’s president Bob Friedrich.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich, who represents some of the most Sandy-devastated areas, said co-op and condo communities in the Rockaways are facing “astronomical” renovation costs.

Repairs to buildings destroyed by the storm could easily exceed $250,000, he said.

“Nearly a year after Superstorm Sandy, co-ops and condos are still struggling to rebuild,” Ulrich said. “Congress must act now and provide relief before it’s too late.”

The City Council resolution, introduced on September 12, sits in the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings.

Committee Chair Erik Dilan said several Sandy-related bills that await the committee’s ruling are being “actively considered.”

“We as a committee and council are active in moving things that will help the city recover or prevent disaster from another hurricane, including the co-op resolution,” Dilan said.

If the measure moves out of committee and then passes the City Council, Vallone would then urge Congress, in a letter, to enact the federal bill.

Warren Schreiber of the Presidents Co-op & Condo Council said advocates could use the City Council’s support as a bully pulpit to boost federal efforts.

“Anything that can be done to put pressure on the federal government and educate other people is absolutely welcome,” Schreiber said. “Hopefully, it sails through the City Council.”

Ozone Park rezoning plans on the table


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The map in Ozone Park could soon be changing to allow the community to welcome new development and reinforce its “residential character.”

The Department of City Planning (DCP) proposed a rezoning of the neighborhood in response to the community’s concerns that the existing zoning doesn’t “closely reflect established building patters,” according to the DCP.

Community Boards 9 and 10, local civic organizations and elected officials were among those who voiced their concerns.

“Now more than ever, Ozone Park demands a smarter and more flexible blueprint that protects the character of the residential parts of the neighborhood and strengthens the commercial districts to stimulate economic development,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

The proposed rezoning area is bounded by Rockaway Boulevard, Atlantic Avenue and 101st Avenue to the north; the Van Wyck Expressway and Lefferts Boulevard to the east; the Belt Parkway to the south; and the Brooklyn borough line to the west.

Currently, the area consists of three residential zones which have been left unchanged since 1961. This existing zoning has allowed the development of three-to-four story, multi-family attached houses and apartment buildings.

DCP said this layout does not reflect the “scale and character” of the desired one-and-two family homes, both attached and separate, that are typically found within Ozone Park. Existing zoning additionally doesn’t distinguish the scale of buildings along most of the area’s commercial corridors and prohibits development of larger buildings.

The proposed rezoning is intended to “reinforce neighborhood character and established building patterns,” direct new housing opportunities, allow for a mix of uses to major corridors and prevent commercial encroachment into residential areas.

“As someone who was born and raised in Ozone Park, it will give me great pleasure to participate in the public review process and to vote on its final approval when it reaches the City Council,” Ulrich said.

Community Boards 9 and 10 are now reviewing the proposal, which will also be reviewed by the borough president and the borough board. It will then go to the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

 

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