On the improved waterfront: City floats less-restrictive development rules

February 15, 2009 at 1:27 am Leave a comment

Barren and remote waterfront areas in Queens could become lively parks, cafés and playgrounds under new regulations being proposed by city planners.

The new Waterfront Text Amendment, which is being reviewed by Queens community leaders, would allow developers who build along waterfront areas to provide more lush promenades, better seating and improved lighting.

Advocates are hailing it as a “quantum leap forward” for waterfront access and usage.

“We have this incredible waterfront,” said City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden. “These new regulations will help make these spaces more inviting, more beautiful and more fun.”

The new rules could have a big impact on formerly industrial and commercial sections of Long Island City and Flushing that are attracting large residential developments.

City planners are set to explain the new rules to members of the Queens Borough Board Monday night.

For the past 15 years, developers who have built certain structures along the waterfront have been required to provide access areas. But those regulations forced them to follow a series of rigid guidelines.

In some cases, the results have been waterfront areas that are tough to get to and have little to offer.

Under the new regulations, developers would have more flexibility. They would even be allowed to open cafes and boat launches.

Burden said she envisions tree-lined streets that draw people to the water.

“We want to make sure a lot of people use the waterfront,” she said. “Having more people there will also make the area safer.”

Roland Lewis, president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, a group dedicated to making the waterfront more accessible, called the plan “a quantum leap forward.”

“It’s needed to improve our waterfront,” he said. “Now we have very straightforward and nonflexible zoning.”

Lewis would like the new regulations to go a step further and require developers to build bollards to anchor boats and barges.

“These can be used for recreation and emergencies,” he said. “It’s amazing how few places there are to moor a boat along the waterfront in the city.”

The plan needs final approval by the City Council.

BY Lisa L. Colangelo
New York Daily News

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Entry filed under: Dive In, Public Waterfront, Queens.

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