Column: Bruckner upzoning proposal could just be the beginning

Photo Adrian Childress

Years ago, Michael DeMarco, the revered, late councilman and judge, stressed the importance of zoning regulations through a simple message: Loss of low-density zoning brings community risk. In the post-DeMarco era, circa 2004, preceding his time as councilman, Community Board 10 District Manager Jimmy Vacca fought hard to attain low density growth management designation for segments of CB 10.

Today, the slogan: Lose your zoning, lose your community, conveys their messages. If approved, the recent application to upzone segments of Bruckner Boulevard will place low density communities, including seemingly untouchables like Spencer Estate and Country Club areas, on the endangered species list. Upzoning areas creates uncontrollable paths for overdevelopment. Upzonings are frequently compounded by additional upzones; add unimpeded as of right building into the mixture for a recipe destined to eradicate low-density communities.

Diversity is a widely used term; often contextualized to fit a need. Our low-density communities are organically undergoing demographic change, becoming more diverse; however, the suburban-like landscape remains. Diversity of environment is an important characteristic of New York City. Low stimulation and absence of some services are expected elements of low-density life. Low-density living is not for everyone. However, diversity in choice of living environment remains a beautiful swatch of New York City’s fabric. A swatch that should never fade.

BRUCKNER UPZONE:

TNALLC, a conniving group, designed to monetize, monopolize and disenfranchise our community, should not be trusted. Among TNALLC members are local business owners, a longtime area resident/developer-contractor, a Queens community board member and a notable Queens businessman. TNALLC hired land use specialists, the law firm Akerman LLP, and powerful lobbyists Constantinople and Vallone to orchestrate the lucrative Bruckner upzone project.

In September 2020, under a shroud of secrecy, Akerman LLP, on behalf of TNALLC,  filed with city Planning a text amendment application to upzone a 3/8-mile stretch of Bruckner Boulevard. A costly, detailed 273-page Environmental Study to support the upzone was completed in April 2021. The filing includes 34 parcels; some excluded from the highly publicized 4-segment project. The large number of parcels strongly indicates plans for additional upzone developments besides the Foodtown to Gifford Avenue strip. Bottom line: The presented, will not be the received.

TNALLC hired Constantinople and Vallone, influential lobbyists with strong relationships with city government. From the Constantinople and and Vallone website: “We at C and V believe that effective government relations is not just who you know, it’s knowing who you need to know.”

The Vallone family is a reputable well-known Queens political dynasty. In the pre-term limit era: Peter Vallone Sr., served as Queens councilman (District 22) for more than 20 years and speaker of the NYC Council from 1986-2001. His sons are legacies — Peter Vallone Jr., once a Manhattan assistant district attorney, is a former NYC councilman and currently a Queens Civil Court judge. Paul Vallone, also an attorney, is a sitting NYC councilman for Queens District 19 and chair of the council’s Committee on Economic Development. C and V are influential lobbyists with strong connections. TNALLC hired prominent people with connections and know-how.

TNALLC has monumental financial investment in the Bruckner upzone. Estimates suggest many millions of dollars are at stake. The covetous bunch has invested much time, thought and money into the project. It is plausible to believe, under the guise of anticipated dormancy, TNALLC will continue their devious pursuit to upzone and monetize our community. TNALLC is unlikely to walk away from a multi-million dollar deal.

TNALLC began this upzone process prior to September 2020; community awareness occurred on or about July 20, 2021. This 10-month head start on an unsuspecting community provided ample time to set unobstructed plans in motion. The following part of a recent TNALLC statement is telling: “we figure out our next steps.”

Sun Tzu, “The Art of War” — divide your army and engage on multiple fronts. Is TNALLC  in the war room cleverly preparing attack? B6 Real Estate Advisors have listed non-profit location 2800 Bruckner Blvd., the former site of the epic Miracle City battle, for $7.95 million. Could that be another front? Possibly. However, a clear certainty stands: Communities must not be lured into false senses of security. Because, lose your zoning, lose your community.

Community Footnotes:

Kudos to NYC Parks Department and Department of Sanitation for their yeoman-like efforts during difficult times. Your efforts are appreciated. If we want to keep and reap the blessings of our fine quality of life, we must endure the fatigue of supporting it. Our community has traditionally exhibited a “We are Family attitude.” Now, is the time to let it shine. Communicate; make that phone call, text message or email. Please check on family, friends and neighbors especially the elderly and vulnerable. Our next meeting is Wednesday, Oct. 20at  7:30 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus (Ampere and Research avenues). Any area homeowner or renter interested in the inclusive Spencer Estate Civic Association attend a meeting or send an email to spencerestatecivic@gmail.com.

Remember: Community= Common-Unity and Inclusion Brings Solutions

More from Around NYC