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Plan to control medical office growth

A new zoning resolution has been brought before Community Board 10 at the request of Councilman James Vacca to control growth of community facilities,like doctor’s offices and day care centers, on residential streets.

CB 10’s housing and zoning committee is now considering a Department of City Planning proposal originally designed for Staten Island communities designated as Lower Density Growth Management Areas. It would restrict the growth of daycare centers and doctor’s offices on residential side streets, and encourage their construction on main commercial streets. CB 10 was designated a Lower Density Growth Management Area towards the end of Vacca’s tenure as CB 10 district manager in 2005.

“When I heard during a City Council hearing that Staten Island was going to be able to create incentives for the placement of doctor’s offices and day care centers on commercial strips, rather than residential streets, I saw no reason why Community Board 10 should not be included, because they both have the same lower-density designation,” Vacca said. “These facilities belong on commercial strips because of the amount of traffic they produce and the number of parking spaces they demand. This text change will certainly help address the over development issues that are always on my front burner.”

Currently, day care centers are allowed to go above the height restrictions on residential streets and do not require parking. Medical buildings in residential areas currently are often granted parking waivers. This allows for facilities with no parking or parking in inappropriate areas.

Under the proposal, the size of medical facilities in residential areas would be restricted by creating a minimum lot size and width. Lot size would also be restricted in the case of residential districts in terms of day care centers, and the operators would have to provide a drop-off and pick-up area for the children and parents in all new construction.

All of these changes are designed to create incentives for the building of doctors offices, day care centers, and other community facilities on main commercial streets, which are better equipped to deal with larger amounts of traffic, Vacca said.

“The councilman thought that it would be a good idea to have this plan applied to Community Board 10,” said CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns. A presentation regarding the plan was made to CB 10’s housing and zoning committee on Tuesday, May 4.

Vacca said that he hoped that the zoning plan could also be applied to parts of Community Board 11. If these regulations were put into effect in CB 11, a medical facility planned for 1624 Astor Avenue might have been scaled back or built elsewhere in order to comply with the new rules.

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