CB 10 votes to put docs, tots on main streets

The effort to ease traffic brought on by care centers and medical facilities is one step closer to being a reality in Community Board 10.

At the last general meeting of the board on Thursday, October 21, CB 10 voted in favor of a plan to restrict the growth of daycare centers and doctors offices on residential side streets, and encourage their construction on main, commercial streets.

Under the Lower Density Growth Management 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 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. CB 10 also recommended to the Department of City Planning that they consider similar restrictions for houses of worship and group homes.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca first heard of the plan while sitting on the council’s Land Use Committee. It was being proposed for Staten Island community boards, but CB 10 had also been designated Lower Growth Density Management Area, so brought it to the Bronx. Vacca said he was pleased that CB 10 may soon be included in the zoning text amendment.

“This is part of my continuing efforts to deal with the growth of my community and to deal with the growth of community facilities,” Vacca said. “Community facilities like day care centers and medical offices often pop up on residential streets, where there is not the parking or infrastructure to support them. They should be properly sited on commercial streets. I am pleased that CB 10 has approved this plan, and it now goes to the City Planning Commission. I think it is well on its way.”

Vacca said that after hearing about the plan, he then requested that the Department of City Planning conduct a study and customize the zoning initiative to the specifics of the CB 10 service area. He sees it as part of larger effort to control growth, which included downzoning CB 10 and CB 11 in stages since 2003. CB 10 was named a Lower Density Growth Management board in 2005 when he was still district manager.

Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns said the measure should go a long way to making the community more livable. Residents have been concerned for years about increased traffic on side streets, he said.

“I think that the vote was a good thing for our board service area in that it will limit the construction of medical and day care facilities to commercial streets and control the level of parking at community facilities,” Kearns said. “It will control the parking problems that people have with community facilities, and issues surrounding drop off and pick ups at these facilities. I think this measure will go a long way to correcting those issues.”

DCP Bronx director Carol Samol said that since the Throggs Neck community was included in the Lower Density Growth Management in 2003, DCP has been working to prevent out of character development. Samol said that she thinks bringing the zoning text change to CB 10 will make an impact.

“The proposed text amendment will prevent out-of-character buildings in lower density residential neighborhoods and provide incentives to redirect their future development to appropriate commercial areas,” Samol said. “After all, we do need to ensure that there is access to medical offices and day care centers in the Bronx.”

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